Ballet Etiquette’s Top 10 by Cynthia Blanco-Mathers and adapted by Dena Cronholm
Whether you dance for recreation or professionally, there are 10 simple things every ballet dancer can do to demonstrate great etiquette and maximize success in class, rehearsal and performance. Added bonus: Most of these tips will apply to your other dance genres too!
- Be silent. The only sounds should come from the teacher and the music. If the teacher asks you something, then reply quickly and respectfully. If you have a relevant question for the teacher during an appropriate moment of class, then raise your hand and ask quickly and respectfully. Ballet class is an inner journey of self-learning and growth. Social time happens outside of class.
- Wear proper attire. If the dress code is a black leotard and pink tights, then wear that. If it is a class en pointe, then have your shoes ready to dance- prep them the night before so you aren’t suffering during class as you constantly adjust your shoes. Many times the dress code for a rehearsal is more lenient, and you can wear colored leotards. Just make sure the attire is appropriate for what you are rehearsing; if you wear a tutu for the performance, then wear a practice tutu. If you perform in a skirt, then wear a practice skirt. And if you have a lot partnering, then wear something your partner will be able to hold onto. Don’t allow your clothing to become a safety issue or time drain!
- Your hair should be secured in a tight bun. It is OK to have some variants of bun styles as long as the hair does not hinder your classroom focus or performance. Your hair should be completely out of your face and secured tightly so it doesn’t get in the way of dancing and learning.
- Be on time. Always be ready to dance at the time the class starts. If you are running late or will be absent, then call the office yourself and let them know.
- Always finish each exercise and sequence. Each exercise at the barre and in the center usually ends in a particular position of the feet, body, arms and head. This position must be found at the end of each exercise and held until the teacher says to relax. For example, if the sequence finishes in a croise attitude derrière, then hold that until the teacher says, “Finish.” To finish, elongate and close in fifth. Then wait to come out of that fifth position until the teacher says says, “Relax.” This also applies to choreography- always finish the dance until the lights go out and/or you are completely off stage.
- Have spacial and directional awareness. When at the barre, space yourself so you will not kick anyone or anything else.
Turn towards the barre after each exercise unless otherwise indicated by the teacher. When in center or going across the floor, space yourself in windows so you do not crash into anyone else, and stay in your lane! If you have to cross the room to get to the other side, then always go around the back and do not walk in front of the teacher.
- Be teachable. If you receive a correction, consider it a compliment, gift and lesson all in one little interaction. Take the correction and apply it immediately. Students who resist correction will not improve as rapidly as those who eat it up like a chocolate bunny on Easter. Dancers who take corrections well receive them more frequently, so they will advance in their craft much quicker. The biggest obstacle to being teachable is you!
- If you have an issue with something, don’t gossip or dwell. Find an appropriate time and place to bring your concerns or frustrations to the people that might be able to help you with them.
- Always be grateful. Say “thank you” for each correction, and at the end of class make a point to thank your teacher for the class.
- Be a team player and not a diva. Even though you might be the best dancer that ever existed in all the history of humanity, you still have room to grow artistically and personally. Everyone you share the stage with matters- even the stage hands-so always be humble and kind.
What do you think about our picks for Ballet Etiquette’s Top 10? Would you add anything to this list? Do you think etiquette matters? Why or why not? Please share your comments!