This article about Dance Discipline is from a dance blog written by Theresa A. Velardi, certified to teach Classical Ballet (Cecchetti method) and Tap through Dance Masters of America teacher, Dance Educators of America and Associated Dance Teachers of New Jersey.
Discipline in ballet class simply means learning, practicing and demonstrating expected behaviors specifically associated with ballet. From the dancers’ viewpoint, discipline comes from the desire to meet and obtain the desired results in class, that is, learning and perfecting the steps taught. Taking ballet class develops self discipline of the body as well as critical thinking skills. Practicing ballet physically changes the body by teaching it a way to communicate through the choreographed movements, we call steps.
Dancers, executing the required barre, center and across the floor dance combinations, requires them to focus on the exercises and combinations in logical, orderly phrases, that create a sequence. Those phrases relate to the accompanying music. The dancer requires self discipline to meet the standards of ballet. Sometimes, learning to commit to the study of ballet, dancers increase self discipline and abilities which may have a positive effect on learning in other areas of their lives.
The ballet teacher views discipline as a commitment to practicing the steps taught as well as structure, rules and etiquette of the ballet class. Discipline in the ballet classroom connects dancers to the history of ballet that dates back to the courts of the Renaissance period and the formal traditions that have become ballet classroom heritage The connection to tradition results in combining performance with an appreciation of the beauty of ballet.
Dance students need to understand that becoming a dancer requires accepting feed back from the teacher. Too often, teacher feed back is received by the dancer incorrectly. Dancers who are Teens, high school students, especially, believe that the teacher may be there to make their life more difficult, and take correction personally. The teacher, while applying discipline to her class is only applying discipline as a whole.
One area is class attire. The dancer’s and teacher’s attire for class contribute to professionalism and class atmosphere. The school director decides how stringent classroom attire should be to obtain professionalism. Today there are too many dance catalogs on the market and online dance stores in which the manufacturers believe how dance students should dress for class. It is not up the manufacturer of these garments to dictate what the dancers need and need not wear. It is up to the teacher of the class to promote professionalism within the classroom.
Class attire is a discipline that is important for me as a teacher. Unity in class attire gives the dancers a piece of history as well as an ease of eye, for the teacher, while she looks at her class in the mirror. With class unity, it is easy for the teacher to identify any mistakes or dancers who are out of place. Confusion comes from seeing too many colors, styles and forms of dancewear in the mirror. Hair needs to be confined and off the neck. Bangs and short hair need to be confined. No hair should be swinging at any time. It creates a distraction to the dancer as well looks sloppy in class.
Another area of discipline is class behavior. During class, dancers are expected to be quiet while the teacher gives the instructions for combinations, or offers a correction. Talking in class to your classmates, should be prohibited. If the dancer has question, then she should raise her hand and wait to be acknowledged by the teacher to ask her question. Obviously gum chewing is unsafe and unsightly in the class and also distracts the dancers concentration. Jewelry should be absent. Small post earring are not a hazard or distraction and may be worn, but dangling earrings create not only a hazard for the dancer but a distraction for the teacher.
Classroom behavior also involves courteousness towards other dancers as well as respect for authority…the teacher. Cell phones, which are a distraction, need to remain off and tucked away and never checked during class time. This is not only a distraction to concentration for the dancer but rude to the class and mostly to the teacher.
Discipline in ballet is a way of life, a good way to learn to lead your life outside of the dance room. Self discipline will follow your for the rest of your life and your beginning is in the ballet classroom.