Fascinating Facts About Ballet & Ballet Lessons
At East West Music & Dance, we’ve been providing ballet lessons for more than 40 years, so you might say we have quite a passion for ballet. While we can train dancers from beginners to elite, we also love to share some fun and fascinating facts about ballet and the benefits of ballet dance classes.
1. Ballet Is The Foundation For All Dance
While people have been dancing for thousands of years, ballet is considered the foundation of all modern dance forms. While your child or teen might prefer jazz, hip hop or contemporary dance styles, taking ballet lessons is recommended as the first step for anyone interested in dance.
The skills and techniques learned during ballet lessons will translate to all other types of dance training, even skills such as tap dancing, contemporary, ballroom dance, etc. When we teach beginning ballet dance classes, we focus on poise, posture, rhythm and timing. Students learn the proper terms for many specific dance moves, such as a pique turn, which is used in other forms of dance.
If you browse through our class descriptions, you will see that we offer ballet classes for students as young as 3, but our other styles, such as jazz and hip hop, don’t get started until about age 7 or older. Ballet is the best option for young dancers because it is age-appropriate for their growing bodies and all of the skills they learn in beginning ballet classes will transfer as they move into different styles of dance.
2. Ballet Isn’t Just “For Girls”
Ballet lessons are beneficial for any person, regardless of gender. It might surprise you to learn that back in the 1400s when ballet developed, women were forbidden to take part in public displays of ballet. Of course, these days, boys often face opposition if they wish to take dance classes and that’s a shame because ballet is beneficial for everyone. Ballet dancers of any gender become as strong as professional athletes through the course of their dance training.
Ballet helps you build strength in every part of your body not to mention improving your flexibility and endurance. If you’ve ever watched a professional ballet performance, you see men hoisting 100-pound women above their heads with ease. That takes an enormous amount of strength, skill and grace. Many professional athletes also take ballet classes to help them improve their core strength and agility. Ballet is a fantastic form of exercise for all genders, and we encourage anyone interested in ballet to come in and give it a try.
3. Before The Tutu, Ballet Outfits Were Cumbersome
In the early days of ballet, once women finally were allowed to dance in public, the costumes were heavy and the length hit the floor so as not to expose a woman’s ankle, which would have been scandalous. Obviously, these costumes did not allow for much freedom of movement, so in 1832 a dancer by the name of Marie Taglioni wore the first tutu and caused quite a stir.
This scandalous tutu showed off Taglioni’s ankle, but it still was formed out of more than 30 yards of fabric, so you can imagine how difficult it was to dance with all of that fabric. As the years passed (and ballet become more complicated), it simply wasn’t feasible for dancers to wear heavy long tutus, so eventually, this gown became shorter and shorter until it transformed into the modern garment we use today, which allows for much greater freedom of movement.
4. You Can Get A College Degree In Dance
If you love to dance and want to make a career out of dance, you can go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree in dance. Schools such as Julliard, UC Berkeley, San Jose State and the Royal Academy of Dance (all of which some of our instructors have attended) and others offer a bachelor’s degree program for dance making it perhaps the only “sport” or athletic type of endeavor where you can earn an actual diploma.
In addition to UC Berkeley and San Jose State, many other colleges in California offer dance degrees, including UCLA, USC, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, UC Long Beach, Chapman University, Loyola Marymount and more.
With that degree, you can become a professional dancer, dance instructor, choreographer, dance therapist or even work as an arts administrator or dance administrator for a dance company or theater company. Some dancers even move into careers as physical therapists, costume designers and set designers.
5. The Transition To Advanced Classes Can Take Time
Every dance school is unique and at East West Music & Dance, we focus on perfecting techniques before students transition to a higher level. For our Ballet I and Ballet II classes, students often stay at one of these levels for several years. For instance, you might start at Ballet I and after a year move up to Ballet II but stay at Ballet II for two or three years until you are ready for Ballet III.
Our Ballet I and Ballet II classes are suitable for students ages 7-11, while our Ballet III classes typically include ages 10-14. It can be quite common for students to stay in Ballet II until they are 11, rather than progressing immediately at age 10 to Ballet III. We believe it is important to allow students to progress at their own pace, and every student is unique.
When it comes to Pointe classes, we offer Pre-Pointe, Pointe I and Pointe II classes. Admission to Pointe is based more upon a student’s technique level than the student’s age. Some students will be ready for Pre-Pointe as early as age 12, but many will be in their teens before they are ready for Pointe, and that’s perfectly fine.
Whether students want to take ballet classes simply as a fun, creative outlet and a fantastic form of exercise or they envision a career in dance, we can accommodate either wish. With practice and focus, all students can be successful, but some will transition more quickly through the levels than others including those who go on to become professional dancers.
At our San Jose dance studio, we offer an assortment of beginning, intermediate and advanced ballet classes. For our youngest students, we offer Mini Ballerina classes for ages 3-4 and Tiny Tots classes for ages 4-6. Ballet I and Ballet II classes are open for students ages 7-11 and we have more advanced ballet classes and Pointe classes for our older students up to age 20.
Our Ballet Fundamentals class is open to students from ages 11 to adult and can be a great option for someone who has taken a break from ballet but wants to brush up on those old ballet skills. All of our ballet classes (and other dance classes) are taught by experienced instructors with degrees or professional experience in dance. If you have any questions about any of our ballet lessons, please contact us at any time. In addition to ballet, we teach many other styles of dance and offer jazz dance classes, hip hop dance classes, tap classes, lyrical and more. Our San Jose dance school is conveniently close for those wanting dance classes in Cupertino, dance classes in Sunnyvale or dance classes in Los Altos, Los Gatos, Campbell and other nearby towns.