Perhaps ballet etiquette is never mentioned aloud in class — but you can count on it: it matters to your instructor and the more experienced dancers in your class! If you think ballet etiquette is old-fashioned or stuffy, remember that you are studying a traditional art form. It’s kind of amazing to think that adhering to traditional etiquette links you to a long line of previous generations of dancers, and that you’re helping to maintain these traditions for the future of ballet. Here are 11 pointers to help you get started in the studio:
- An open door invites you to come in. If the studio door is closed, please wait until an instructor or staff member opens it before entering. Another class may be wrapping up, the instructor may be working with a student, or the instructor may be preparing for the following class.
- Find a Seat at the Barre. When you get into the studio, the first thing you do is pick a position at the barre that is appropriate for your level. As a beginner, you should stay in the middle and let the more experienced dancers handle the ends. If you are unskilled, pick a middle spot closer to where the teacher usually stands so you can see and hear the teaching better.
- Mark your spot with a slipper or a sweater over the barre, then stretch on the floor, collect rosin if they let it, or chat with others before class starts. It is fair game if you did not mark your spot and leave for even a moment. First and foremost, be courteous: if you see someone who requires more space than you do, volunteer to move or make way for them to stand where you are.
- Leave the finishing touches to the professionals. The space at the extremities of the barre, especially the spots farthest away from the teacher, should be reserved for more experienced dancers. When all dancers are in a line, they can look to people ahead of them for cues on what to do and how to perform it correctly. It is extremely beneficial to have an experienced dancer in a position where he or she can demonstrate good technique and form. It can slow down the entire class if they are following the last dancer, who turns around to observe what the others are doing because they are unsure. The last place is frequently kept for an instructional assistant or someone who is knowledgeable with the combinations and can help lead the class.
- At the barre, keep an eye on your spacing. Be mindful of your surroundings so that you do not kick or are kicked by those around you. Consider parallel parking: you don’t want to be too close to the automobile in front of you or take up a space and a half since you parked incorrectly. Angle in toward the barre during combinations with extensions and battements if room is limited.
- Setting up portable barres. If all of the barre spaces are claimed before class, dancers will usually start moving out the portable barres. The portable barres in the center are for more advanced students or unlucky late arrivals. Consider yourself late if you arrive fewer than 15 minutes before class begins. The barres might wobble or even tip, and you must be mindful of adjusting your hands throughout combinations in order to accommodate the dancer on the opposite side. When you share the barre, this can be difficult. If you move the barres, keep them at a decent distance apart to avoid kicking your neighbor, and if possible, select ideal spots where the dancers behind you at the barre can still see themselves in the mirror as well as yourself.
- Don’t overcrowd the studio. As adults, we may have more precious stuff with us that we do not want to leave in the dressing room. We don’t want you to trip over your handbag at the barre, though! Adult ballet instructors are often more tolerant about letting purses or bags in the studio, but pay attention to where others place their possessions – are they tucked away in an inconspicuous corner? Water bottles are sometimes permitted at the barre, but you can usually get through class with just a drink. Place your belongings somewhere out of the way.
- Switch off your phone completely. Every professional venue reminds us to switch off those obnoxious ring tones, and dance class is no exception. Also, please turn off the vibrate function; it is distracting. If you have a new baby or something critical that requires you to be on call, you must be accountable for checking your phone in your bag.
- Here, we’re all trying to learn. By going closer to the barre, you should avoid blocking the instructor’s perspective for those behind you. You can either observe the combinations or mark them with your body or merely your hands. While an instructor is teaching, it is best to avoid extending or practicing a different step.
- It’s a barre workout. It’s not a bar. There will be no leaning, yawning, or sitting at the barre. Instructors prefer pupils to stand up straight, with good posture, weight well distributed, and shoulders back. Another key advice is to always turn toward the barre as you finish your first set of exercises at the barre and turn to face the opposite direction.
- Beginnings and conclusions. Stand up and take your place at the barre when the instructor enters the room. Begin on the barre with your left hand. Please show your teacher respect by paying attention and conversing before or after class. Move everything from your location to the side or back of the studio at the end of the barre. This includes the portable barres, which are returned to their original location by the dancers who stood at them. The time spent transitioning from barre to center can be used to stretch, use the restroom, or even change into a center dance skirt.
Learn more: Exercise outside the studio