Ballet Foundations (I & II) - Ages 10+
Overall Objectives of Foundations (age 10+)
Foundations is essentially an intermediate ballet class. (OR for beginners ages 12+.) Foundations establishes and builds on core placement throughout an entire technique class and moving into work en pointe. The primary difference between Foundations I & II is that II moves slightly faster (more choreography-intense combinations at increased speed), and dancers should have 1 year of pointe. Steps (like pirouettes in both directions and from all positions, or larger grand allegro steps) can be added incrementally as dancers continue to stabilize their core placement and demonstrate mastery of basic technical principles (like straight knees, pointed toes, epaulment, etc.). Throughout Foundations classes, some exercises may focus on speed, some on transfer of weight, some on port de bras. Instructors may pick one focus for a challenging exercise (sharp degagés with smooth port de bras) and another for a different exercise, OR may structure a whole class around one concept. These classes begin to hone in on how the audience perceives the movement - considerations like Head, expression, tempo, dynamics etc. can be discussed.
Dancers ready to move beyond Foundations will have mastery of the following:
1) Proper and consistent placement of their corps = pelvis, stomach up, shoulders open and down; rotation from the hips of the standing and working legs simultaneously; even and especially through their work en pointe
2) Have time practicing barre and center work including frappes, waltz turns, tombe pas de boure prep for pirouettes and saute de chat, jetes and tour jetes, jumps with beats, positions of the body, promenades, etc. - essentially come to know the rest of the "steps" of ballet
3) Critical thinking habits - can answer questions like “Why do you think that didn’t work?” “What could help make this better?” AND have learned how to use the mirror appropriately.
Class Outline - 1.5 hours, 2x/wk for technique, pointe 30 min/wk (added 30 min/class for performance piece rehearsal)
(Warm up should be encouraged before class by the individual dancer. In-class warm-ups MAY be incorporated for a month or two at the start of the year. Otherwise the exercises below can and should be used if and when dancers fail to engage with placement concepts when they are standing. If core placement and rotation is being executed correctly, these exercises do not need to be part of class. See the Foundations Prep Syllabus for more detail about what these exercises entail.
1. butterfly with back on the floor
2. grand plies while lying on back in 1st position
3. retires on back
4. tendus to the front and side on back
5. ronde de jambes on back
6. Slowly stack spine)
Barre - 45-55 min of class Combinations should also be repeated for AT LEAST one month and to the same music building dancers' abilities to execute the combinations without relying on demonstration, and focusing on doing the steps with correct technique and not merely doing the steps. The teacher may choose to alter between demonstration while naming the steps, to merely naming the steps when giving combinations. (The teacher should NOT do the steps with the dancers and should work to ween them from having the teacher call out the combination. Dancers should work towards memorizing combinations when they HEAR them.) When combinations are first given, for those having 1 hand on the barre, initially place the other hand at the dancer's shoulders, increasing awareness of placement and position of the upper back. When dancers have mastered the legs, keep the combinations but add port de bras to add difficulty. Have dancers build speed through tendus, degages, and frappes by working first through the a le seconde facing the barre to stabilize core placement. Combinations should end with balances in various positions to develop placement of the upper body and ankle strength. A pre-pointe focus could include: relevés, stamina, calf strengthening, foot articulation, turnout control, weight on the ball of the foot. Time should be spent on finding placement with opened hips throug the arabesque - drilled with ronde de jambes. Stretching should be done as part of barre and should stretch ballet positions. For developes, have the dancers work on their backs for the first few months of class to develop the coordination that maintains their core placement BEFORE progressing to standing on their feet. Do not have them hold extensions in positions they can't maintain with proper technique. Fendus, progressing to en elevet is appropriate to build arm/leg coordination for jumps and strength through the legs and feet. Corrections should focus on core placement, feet, clean transitions, and arm, head, and epaulment placement.
Center - 35-45 min of class Tendus to finesse technique without barre support. Adage to strengthen the standing leg, add control, and move gracefully through the positions of the body with a sense of line. Pirouettes, progressing to both directions and from all positions - the first goal should be clean, placed singles. Doubles should first be drilled from 5th. Doubles from 4th should not be encouraged until doubles from 5th can be landed with control. Jumps - smoothing the plie for a nice rebound - jumps should be given with the accent up or without sufficient time to sit in plie. Clean beats. As jetes, pas de chats, glissades and assembles increase in cleanliness, they can be combined in combinations. Grand allegro can also move beyond drills to incorporated, simple combinations of multiple steps. Focus should continue to be placed on arabesques in adage and through sautes in jumps, hitting clean lines and maintaining rotation of the STANDING (or jumping) leg. Grand jetes should be taught before saute de chats. Saute de chats should not be taught with arms in 4th arabesque before they are mastered with arms in 1st arabesque. Pique turns, step-up turns, and chainnes should all be practiced. Walks and runs with varying arms should be practiced. Class should end with reverance.
Pointe - 30 min after class 1x/wk All dancers, even those not en pointe yet, can do 30 min of foot and ankle strengthening with theraband and elevet combinations at the barre, including lots of balances. Beginning pointe work should focus on pressing onto pointe with both feet, followed by springing onto pointe with both feet, followed by stepping on to pointe from one foot to another, both onto a straight knee (as in a pique arabesque), and through a bent knee that quickly straightens, as in a pas de boure. LOTS of focus should be on how one gets OFF pointe - via a controlled roll through, a spring down, or a tombe or step down. The dancers should practice all 3 ways to get on to the top of their boxes, AND all 3 ways to come down. More time should be spent practicing coming down. Lots of time should be spent working through the demi and 3/4 pointe. Dancers should work towards controlling their way down from pointe to demi pointe. Beginning pointe (Found I) should work towards getting off the barre for bourres, sousous, echappes, passes, pas de bourees, soustenous and chainnes turns. Intermediate pointe should work on single leg work at the barre, progressing off the barre towards pique turns, pique arabesques, step up turns, consecutive single leg relevets in simple positions, and pirouettes on point - starting with singles from 5th.
PERFORMANCE: The Foundations level has 30 min of "rehearsal time" added after 1 class each week.. Work on the piece should begin within the first 3 weeks of class. Portions of the piece should break down into class work so that the technique of the steps can be thoroughly cleaned within class time. Include instructions on walking to one's spot for the dance gracefully, having an appropriate facial expression, bowing, and exiting gracefully. Choreography should be well within the class's average skill set, and MAY highlight or feature skills of individual dancers. The objective of the experience is 1) to increase a dancers level of confidence in the performance experience, 2) to create the need to establish ownership of the dancer's performance and individual responsibility to prepare for it, 3) to create work that will both challenge the dancers and be something that will highlight their work and progression. The piece should be entirley set 5 weeks before the show.
The dance is a success if dancers feel challenged by the piece and are able to successfully meet the challenge. Because the parents will be invited to observe ALL of class, the performance piece need not cover or highlight all of what the class instructs.