As magical as ballet can be, it’s not always a smooth path. We all face struggles and dream of improvement. Ah, but let me share a little secret: the transformative power of ballet is within each and every one of you, regardless of age or body type. If you’re experiencing difficulties, it’s most like because you’re lacking some technical ballet foundations. Unfortunately this happens a lot to ballet students who took up ballet in adulthood.
In this article, we’ll explore how foundational ballet technique can create the base for a long and fulfilling ballet journey in an adult student’s life.
The Importance of Establishing Foundational Ballet Technique
Picture this: ballet foundations are like the sturdy bricks that lay the foundation of a majestic castle. Without these essential techniques, your delicate ballet dreams might crumble. Building solid ballet foundations is key to unlocking your progress. Studies show that a solid technique aids in preventing injuries and enhancing performance potential. It’s the scientific secret to dancing with grace and confidence. Every single ballet step, from the ‘simplest’ to the most complicated one out there, is built upon the same technical principles. Usually, advanced ballet steps are the evolution of a basic one.
A grand jeté (split in the air) is a combination of two grands battements: a grand battement devant (kick forward) and a grand battement derrière (kick backwards). A grand battement is an evolution of battement glissé/degagé (low kick) and the latter is a step above a battement tendu.
When you first see a grand jeté, you don’t immediately think, this is a development of a battement tendu, but as you can see, this is what it is. It’s like a wonderful tree which once was a tiny seed. If you look at the two next to each other, they don’t look that similar. Same thing in ballet.
Technique wise, this means that if one is performing a battement tendu with poor technique, there’s no way they could ever improve their grand jeté. That’s why it’s fundamental to not skip over this first part even if it seems tedious at times.
Establishing Ballet Foundations
Now that you understand the importance of ballet foundations, let’s unravel the path to unlocking their magic. The first step is finding a qualified ballet teacher (preferably one who’s experienced and believes in teaching adults). The right guide will make all the difference.
It’s also important to enrol in the right class level. Joining a more advanced class as a beginner is how a lot of students skip passed that basic technique, which is considered a given in a more advanced class. Consider your experience and goals, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. Remember, every ballet journey begins with that first plié. Embrace the beginner’s mindset, revel in the joy of learning, and let the magic of ballet sweep you off your feet.
The Foundations of Ballet Technique
Flexibility, control, and fluidity of movement all become second nature when you’ve established these foundational skills. The possibilities become infinite and this is only the beginning.
With a solid technique, you unlock the doors to more advanced ballet vocabulary. Those clear pirouettes and high extensions with control can only become your reality if you truly understand the mechanics of your body. In other words, you need to know what your muscles are doing and why in order to understand how to do it. Embrace growth, even in the tiniest of movements, and watch as your inner ballerina blooms.
So what are these foundations? Let me break it down for you:
Posture and Alignment:
Imagine a string pulling you upward, lengthening your spine, and aligning your body. Your alignment starts at your feet and includes your entire body all the way up to the top of your head.
This is the first step towards achieving that famous ballet posture. Remember, proper alignment doesn’t just make your movements look elegant. It also supports your balance and reduces the risk of injuries.
The signature ballet position. This is when you rotate your legs from the hips, allowing your toes to point away from each other. Developing a strong turnout is key to executing those gorgeous ballet movements with grace and precision.
So, to “develop” your turnout, you need to look into two aspects. The first one is your natural range: how much do your hip bones allow for leg rotation (usually that’s a lot more than you’ve witnessed or imagined)?
The second and most important one is strength. The strength you need in order to rotate to the maximum and then hold that opening there for extended periods of time while dancing (usually this is a lot harder than one can imagine).
Your core is like the sturdy trunk of a ballet tree! It provides stability, control, and the starting point for all your movements. Therefore, building a strong core through targeted exercises will enhance your balance. Additionally, it’ll help you control your extensions and landings from jumps and empower you to perform challenging sequences with ease.
Balance and Control:
The delicate art of finding your centre! Balancing gracefully on one leg, executing perfect pirouettes, and effortlessly gliding across the floor are all a ballet dancer’s dream. Through dedicated practice and focused training, you can achieve the balance and control that make your performances mesmerising.
To improve your balance, you need to be actively working on this. Ideally, you want to improve your balance before you can “use it” in a sequence (i.e. a pirouette combination). Otherwise, you’ll be relying on the hope that it’ll magically improve while working that sequence.
Your body’s flexibility allows you to achieve those stunning extensions and beautiful lines. However, it’s important to approach flexibility hand in hand with strength. Because if you don’t have the strength to control your leg for example, the flexibility alone not only won’t bring you the result, but it could even cause injuries.
Make sure you incorporate active stretching routines in your schedule, and not just static stretches on the floor. Having said that, you don’t need to be too concerned about your flexibility if you only just started ballet. That’s for two resons.
First, just by taking ballet classes regularly, you should see an improvement in your flexibility naturally. Second, all the other aspects I mentioned are much more important at first.
Bonus: Musicality and Artistry:
Ok, this one isn’t exactly technique. However, the music and the artistic side of ballet are essential and are definitely worth a spot in the foundations of ballet.
The joy of dancing to the rhythm of the music! Connecting your movements to the music and infusing them with emotion and expression is the essence of ballet. Let the music guide you, and find your unique voice through the artistry of ballet.
Dancing “on the music” can also help you improve your technique. For example, a slow exercise that’s there for strengthening will be more effective on a slower music where you’d have to ‘hold it’. Let’s say you’re doing a developpé and you have to jold your leg in the air of 1 count – that count will impact differently depending on how long it lasts for.
Also, the style of the music can make you change the way you stress your movements, how continuous or sharp they are, which again can educate your body on how to move in ballet.
These ballet foundations are just the beginning of your extraordinary journey. Embrace them, nurture them, and let them flourish within you. You have the power to unlock your true potential and dance with confidence.
Remember, age is just a number, and your body type doesn’t limit your ability to excel in ballet. Believe in yourself, surround yourself with supportive fellow dancers, and let your passion for ballet light your way.
The Ballet Foundations Masterclass
If you’d like to dive deeper into all these topics that encompass the foundational ballet technique, you can join The Ballet Foundations Masterclass, a comprehensive course teaching you all the above.
With the Masterclass, you’ll have not just one, but THREE incredible ballet classes that will break down the foundational technique you need to keep progressing in ballet.
In Module One, we’ll establish better ballet technique for the rest of your ballet life. That means better balance, higher extensions with control. We’ll dive deep into the foundational technique that serves as the building blocks for any ballet movement.
The Soreness Cure
Then, in Module Two, get ready for a flexibility-focused class that will reset your body after all the hard work. It’ll help your body absorb all the new training, feel energetic, and release any tension so you can dance even more tomorrow. It’s all about giving your body the love and care it deserves, so you can keep pushing boundaries and reaching for the stars.
The Perpetual Ballet Progress Recipe
And of course, we can’t forget about Module Three: the ballet habit tracker designed with you in mind. This is where the magic of turning good ballet technique into your second nature truly happens. Imagine effortlessly implementing what you’ve learned, not even having to think about it.
Alongside the Masterclass, you’ll also receive a set of incredible resources to boost your ballet progress even further.
The Ballet Progress Boosting Journal
The Ballet Progress Boosting Journal is like a secret weapon in your ballet arsenal. It’s a printable journal that will not only help you track your progress but also magnify what works best for YOU. Every step forward, every leap of faith, every grand jeté—this journal will be there to celebrate your wins along the way.
Effortless Foot Articulation
The sheer joy of beautifully articulated feet! This recorded class will help you improve the flexibility of your arches and strengthen your feet, allowing you to use your full range of motion. This class is also excellent as preparation for pointe work.
Ballet Foundations in 7 Days
Think of this as the first week of the rest of your ballet life. Because all of the above might sound slightly overwhelming, I’ve designed this guide to help you plan and go through the entire course as smoothly as possible. Following this plan, you’ll go through the whole material in a week and then revisit as preferred. However, because there’s no one size fits all, there’s a lot of space for you to customise it in order to make this work for you and your daily life.
By consistently implementing all the components in the most effective order, you’ll supercharge your progress and unlock your inner ballet superstar.
Long story short, the Masterclass is so much more than just a class—it’s a transformative ballet experience. It’s your opportunity to strengthen your overall ballet technique, and bring your ballet dreams to life one step at a time.
Remember that every awe-inspiring ballet movement begins with solid foundations. Foundations are like the secret ingredient that helps you craft your dance story.
To support you in this fundamental step of your ballet training, The Ballet Foundations Masterclass is your gateway to a transformative ballet journey. If you’re ready to commit to your ballet journey, click here to learn more about The Ballet Foundations Masterclass.