Here's everything you need to know about Ballet teachers and how to find one who is right for you.
They can be some of the most gifted teachers of dance.
Don't underestimate just how encouraging they can be. They'll teach you with confidence and skill and your lesson will be pleasant, pain-free and filled with laughter.
There are Ballet teachers who are so beloved by their cherished pupils that they are teaching well into their eighties – and still have beautiful poise.
You'll find teachers who make their best effort with adult beginners.
Teachers who approach every pupil as if they are the most important.
Teachers who make you feel as though anything is possible.
They are out there. You just have to find them.
And you'll be glad you did when you do.
They'll teach you the skill of dancing and you'll never forget it.
A habit popular among Ballet teachers, when meeting brand new pupils, is to get some idea of their knowledge of Ballet and their general fitness levels.
It doesn't matter one bit if you know nothing more about Ballet than what you've read on these pages or seen our video, or if you haven't been exercising for years.
Ballet has a lot to offer you – but it's just useful for the teacher to know where you're at.
So quite often, when starting a new Ballet class, you'll get asked your experience.
Your Ballet teacher should always teach the class to include the most unfit or inexperienced pupil.
If you think that your beginners class is being pitched too high - that it is including moves or positions that aren't being explained, or that the teacher is assuming you have more knowledge than you do - please speak up.
Even some experienced teachers get the pitch of their classes wrong occasionally and if they are a good teacher, they will appreciate the feedback.
Not every teacher is of the standard of the truly talented ones that we work with, like Deborah (above). So it's time to get some negatives out of the way...
Teachers of Ballet have an occasionally bad reputation. And unfortunately in some cases it is justified.
There is an 'old school' type of Ballet teacher who teaches the way he or she was taught themselves – in a brutal regime of moving their bodies far beyond what was comfortable, suffering great pain, being screamed at for making the tiniest mistake or having a hair out of place.
This is an extreme example – but they do exist. Anyone who has been in the Ballet world for long enough has been taught by a few of them...
This approach to Ballet is outdated and counter-productive. But to approach adult beginners this way is particularly pointless.
Rest assured there are probably very few teachers of adult Ballet who are like this – generally teaching adult Ballet doesn't appeal to this type of teacher who is just out to find the next Margot Fonteyn and put her though her (painful) paces.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are Ballet teachers out there who make such little effort they may as well not bother to show up.
We've been in Ballet lessons taught by teachers wearing jeans. We know of teachers who, regardless of what level they are teaching, use their classes as their own personal workout session and hardly look at what the class is doing.
We've seen dancers-turned-teachers whose professional career has clearly been cut short by injury and who now creak around studios as though every step pains them.
There are teachers who constantly
turn up late. Teachers who tell you to work hard – rather than simply inspire you to.
It's just not the stuff that dancing dreams are made of.
If you do come across any of these styles of teaching, please don't accept them. They are not the way to teach Ballet.
Don't be afraid to quit a class if you are ever told, expected or encouraged to do anything that hurts you. Or if you feel embarrassed or humiliated in any way.
Don't put up with negative reinforcement. It is stupidly counter-productive and as a customer, you have the right to be taught in a respectful and professional manner.
Ok – warning over with. Don't panic.
The ghastly creatures described above are a thankfully dying breed and you will probably never encounter one.
Usually, the type of Ballet teachers
drawn to and enthusiastic about teaching adults, fully understand how gentle and pleasant the class environment should be.
Just find someone who appeals to you and is careful with their pupils. And someone who also makes the class fun.
Ballet is such hard work – you need to be having some fun in there too!
One last word of warning, though. And it's a big one that not only applies to Ballet but to a lot of dances.
Ensure you are taught by a TEACHER not by a DANCER.
A professional teacher will have had anatomy and physiology training. And preferably some kind of psychology of teaching training.
There are a lot of dancers out there who, once their professional dancing life is either over or didn't work out quite as planned, turn to teaching without actually re-training as a dance teacher.
Knowing how to dance, even to a very high level, is completely different to knowing how to teach it safely and effectively. The best dancers know this and would never dream of attempting to teach without teacher training.
Knowing what hurts your own body is one thing. But being able to recognize what may cause pain to someone else is an entirely different skill. This is an incredibly important point.
As well-meaning as they may be, being able to dance well does not qualify dancers as teachers. It's a crucial distinction.
So make sure your teacher is a fully qualified dance teacher and not just a dancer moonlighting for some extra cash.
And then enjoy your classes and your time with your wonderful, gifted and well-chosen Ballet teacher.