The English version of this article will be coming soon...
A good dancer may have beautiful legs, long arms, and strong muscles but her most valuable asset is her brain!
Of course, ballet is a physical activity...but if it is only physical it is not dance! Dancers perform jumps, spins, and balances but they must do it expressively. They must speak with their dance. They must use their minds!
What do I expect my students to think about? Here are a few things:
1/ ANATOMY How do each of the muscles do their work? How are the bones shaped and how do they help or limit motion? How can bodies move more efficiently? I keep a full-sized skeleton in the studio and use it often to demonstrate to students.
2/ HISTORY I take every chance I can to share stories from ballet history with my students. Knowing why we do what we do and remembering that we are part of an ongoing story enhances our experiences!
3/ MUSIC I quiz students about the music we dance to: What is the time signature? What type of music is it? Waltz or mazurka...tango or march? How would this dance change if we did it to different music? Which ballet is that piece of music from? Giselle or Cinderella?...and who is the composer? Good dancers really listen to the music. They never take it for granted!
4/ COMMUNICATION A dancer communicates to an audience when she performs. A dancer communicates with other dancers to be able to work together with them....and I love it when my students communicate their desire to learn by asking questions!
5/ LANGUAGE The first school of ballet was in France (400 years ago) so the names for ballet steps are French. Dancers should know what these names mean: "tendu" - to stretch, "plie" - to bend. Some of the important centers of dance, like New York and London, are in English-speaking countries. Dancers who can speak some English are at an advantage. I use quite a bit of English when I teach...by the time my students are junior high school age most of them can understand simple instructions in English.
Regardless of whether a student wants to be a ballet dancer, a bus driver, or a dentist, in the ballet studio she can learn things she will use for the rest of her life.
Ballet slippers are not indoor shoes, running shoes, or house slippers. They are shoes designed specifically for ballet dancers. Of course, it is not absolutely impossible to perform ballet in bare feet but some movements may not be as smooth and the feet may be injured.
At Actus we recommend students use ballet slippers with a leather front and canvas back made and sold by Chacott. The leather front will stretch slightly and conform to the shape of the toes.
Choosing the correct size shoe is important. If they are too small or too big they will affect the student's ability to dance properly.
At Actus we help students find the right fit for their shoes and can order them to be delivered.
Often during a holiday a child's feet will have grown and new shoes will be needed. Students should let us know if they want us to order the next size up!
Actus Ballet Studio has a close association with the dance supply shop, Chacott Co., Ltd.
They are conveniently located in front of Yokohama Station.
We recommend new students visit the store to see the wide range of leotards, tights, shoes and dance goods they have to offer.
If you have grown out of your ballet slippers and just need the next size up Actus staff can order them for you. We usually receive delivery from Chacott within two to three days.
Visit their English website for product information:
Everyone knows that a leotard is what dance students wear in class.
Leotards come in many styles and colours. Some are so fancy they almost look like stage costumes!
Why do dancers wear leotards in class? Since many dancers started taking ballet classes when very young, wearing a leotard in ballet class is something they have never thought about or questioned.
I believe that wearing a leotard for class is one way to make our dancing look more beautiful.
Dancing is not simply moving around the room randomly: a good dancer will be aware of the details of technique as he strives to achieve perfect control of his body. Proper training will develop the muscles in an aesthetically pleasing way. By wearing a well-fitting leotard and using the studio mirror the dancer can easily adjust his body's alignment and correct the movements he makes.
Some ballet schools stipulate a style and colour of leotard that their students must wear. At Actus we do not have any such rule. We simply ask that students wear leotards that fit well.
Young girls often enjoy wearing leotards that have skirts attached. We have no objection to Actus students wearing these except if the skirt is too elaborate and distracts them during class.