Ballet Aligned training is focused on progressing dancers to and through advanced levels of ballet TECHNIQUE. While that aim may seem obvious, it is a departure from other approaches that emphasize progression through ballet VOCABULARY. That latter is more obvious to dancers (and parents!). Dancers learn new steps all the time, regardless of their level of mastery of previous steps. Combinations are “choreography” heavy, adding many steps or moves. Progression through various levels of training is automatic and based on the names and concepts of movement known OR the age of the dancer.
Ballet Aligned teachers have a deeper technical knowledge of the skills and muscle memories needed to make dancers DANCE WELL. Beginning at about age 8, our classes begin to hone in on HOW a dancer is executing steps, and not merely the basic shaping of ever-advancing steps, regardless of the readiness of the dancer to try them.
When new steps are given to dancers before they have mastered the basics, NEGATIVE muscle memory and coping strategies emerge that prevent the dancer from being able to DANCE WELL. The process to unwind these bad habits can be long and frustrating to dancers. Some, having not developed the needed patience and attention to detail from their previous training, abandon the pursuit of excellent ballet technique all together.
Yes, our training appears slower. Yes, it appears to be more repetitive. Establishing proper technique is a slower process than “trying a bunch of dance moves.” When you see our teachers dial in to the proper muscle use or finer details of a movement with physical and verbal cues , it is because THESE are the things that make a WORLD of DIFFERENCE in the dancers we aim to produce.
You can support your dancer in recognizing and celebrating his or her progress by asking questions like, “What were you able to do better today?” rather than “What did you learn today” which can imply if no new material is covered, learning did not occur. Ask, “What are the steps you are working to perfect?” And encourage your dancer to work on concepts and exercises at home – because establishing proper muscle memory takes repetition, and the more often movements are repeated, the faster that solid foundation is laid!
It is our delight to provide training that has the potential to create truly excellent ballet dancing! The process is not unlike creating a beautiful oil painting: to reach its potential, the student must put down the pencil used to sketch the form and take up the tools to add the texture, color, and life. Sketching more and more objects won’t ever produce the full color and glory of a ballet piece of art! Thanks for training with us!