Sunday, September 19, 2010

ballet étiquette (beware: i'm about to vent)

so i recently had the wonderful opportunity to begin dancing with a new company in a completely new dance environment.  even though its only been a few weeks, i already feel that the experience itself has been amazing in terms of growth and learning about who i am as a dancer and what i want out of my career.

while i love the program and the opportunities it has already exposed me to, there is one glaring thing i cannot stand.

as a classically trained ballet dancer, i grew up with strict rules in terms of how to behave in class.  no excess talking (especially when the teacher is giving corrections or advice), always turn towards the barre, no sitting between barre and center, some silly yet some very necessary.  the most necessary of all however was to always respect your fellow dancers.

i think the dance environment is one that can so quickly become hostile and competitive.  that being said it's important that we respect each other as artists and give each other the proper space to dance and move and explore.  at my new company, there are a few dancers who have obviously been there for quite some time and choose to completely disregard this notion.
when we split into groups for combinations, they are constantly joining in with the second group.  this isn't necessarily awful,  however they insist on dancing full out, taking up space out of that group and prohibiting other dancers from getting to dance the movements in their full extent.  to me it's just plain selfish.
and when we do combinations in groups, with four counts to change groups in between, instead of running forward and out the way we are instructed, they insist on slowly walking directly to the sides, often times running into dancers of the next group and making them start two counts off beat.

when you dance in large groups, its important to always remember to respect those around you and to remember that everyone is entitled to their time to dance.  to me it's so incredibly rude to completely disregard others.  i understand the necessity of dancing for yourself and having those selfish moments where you turn the focus inward, but its important to remember to respect those around you.  if i'm trying to do the combination and you're marking it in the back but moving into my space, its going to throw me off and keep me from getting the most out of the combination.

so i guess the point of this post is just to remind everyone out there to pay a little extra attention to what is going on around you.  because no matter how amazing of a dancer you are, respect should always be given to everyone.


  1. I completely agree with you. I took a trial class at one of the other large academies in my area, and I could already fell it in the room. Another thing is that sometimes (not saying anything bad about your studio) girls compete and try to be in the best shape they can, by developing eating disorders. Luckily for me (and other young dancers out there) I have a very high metabolism, so I don't have to worry as much about those things.

    Some Advice to Others:

    When starting ballet, stay in a small studio, without a lot of drama or too many students. As your career progresses, If you feel comfortable, switch to a bigger studio. At least that way you don't have to grow up with the competition, and have it imprinted on your dance life, so that you show it yourself.

  2. OMG! THANK YOU!!!! sometimes i feel like i'm the ONLY one who is conscientious ballet etiquette! and yes i totally agree with you about how people can sometimes be so selfish with their dancing that they are completely oblivious to others.

    when i started a new dance studio, it was completely different from my old one. my old one was very strict on ballet etiquette and in the new one, dancers would walk in late with their hair down and not even wearing leotard and tights!!! soooo yeah, i know how you feel!

  3. i totally know what you're talking about in terms of girls competing in every possible arena. i've danced with companies where lunch time turned into a big game to see who could eat the least.

    i think there are amazing studios with girls that feel like your family and respect everyone, and then there can be the worst times when everyone thinks only of themselves and takes every opportunity to knock you down. so frustrating!