7 Things Adult Ballet Students Wish They Could Tell Their Teachers

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I have never met an adult ballet teacher I didn't like. I am so grateful for everything that ballet teachers do. I have had so many teachers who have given me rich and challenging classes that have left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated (even if a bit sore). However, that being said...

Adult ballet is still a fairly new and unique concept, so there are still many teachers who aren't quite sure how to approach teaching adult students. And because of that, there are many adult ballet students who are left longing for more after class, just wishing they could somehow respectfully express to their teachers what they hope to get out of class time.

But these students aren't sure if they should speak up or not. Maybe they don't want to offend, or maybe they feel like they are expecting too much from a hobby.

So, I am here speak the unspoken. Ballet teachers of the world, please listen! Here are the top seven things that so many adult ballet students wish they could tell you...

#1) Teachers, please don't hesitate to correct your adult ballet students. We want to learn! 

If you are new to teaching adult ballet, you might feel strange about giving your adult students corrections, especially if your students are older than you — but please, don't hesitate! We value your feedback, and we genuinely want to improve.

Those of us who didn't grow up doing ballet haven't heard all of the basic corrections reiterated over and over again. Therefore, it can be easy for us late-beginners to forget some of the fundamentals.

So, even if a correction seems basic or obvious to you, go ahead and talk to us about it!

We are listening. And most of us will not be embarrassed. We come to class to learn, and your personal corrections are the most valuable feedback you can give us. 

#2) Feel free to laugh along with us when we make funny mistakes during your ballet combinations. 

Facing the wrong direction at the barre? Falling out of a pirouette? Grand jeté-ing into the wall? 

These things can be pretty funny. 

As long as no one is physically hurt, and as long as we see the humor in it, too — it is okay to laugh. 

Adult ballet students know that looking silly once in a while is simply part of the adult ballet experience. 

We aren't delicate, sensitive flowers. Most of us are pretty self-aware and have a good sense of humor about our ballet journey. 

But that being said...

#3) Ballet teachers, please take your adult students seriously! We want REAL training.   

We definitely want you to laugh with us at our funny moments, but we also want you to know that we are serious about our ballet training

And we want you to take our training seriously, too!

If we just wanted to work out, then we could follow along with a YouTube video at home or go to the gym instead of the ballet studio. Either of those options would be a lot cheaper and a lot easier. 

But that's not what we want! We can do regular exercise any place or time, but when we go to ballet, we want the experience of a classical ballet class. 

Please, give us a real class focused on technique and artistry, not just a ballet inspired workout. 

For many of us, putting on a leotard (even if we end up throwing a t-shirt over it) and walking into a ballet studio is a huge feat of courage.

We push ourselves out of our comfort zones, because we love ballet. We want to learn real ballet — with an emphasis on all of its beautiful details, subtleties, and even its rigorous exactitude.

So please, don't hold back or oversimplify when you teach us!

Even if we never dance on a stage, please teach us as if you were preparing us for the stage.

That's the experience we are longing to have. 

#3) Don't go easy on us! Adult ballet students want to get stronger and try new things. 

Definitely be aware of our abilities, and please don't give us combinations that give us zero chance at success.

But! Also, please don't be afraid to push us out of our comfort zones, both mentally and physically. 

We want to grow. We want to get stronger. We want to work our way up to new, more advanced ballet steps and more complex combinations. 

You can help us get there!

It's okay if our bodies hurt a little — we expect that! 

You don't have to go easy on us. We aren't made of porcelain. We won't break! And if you push us, you get the satisfaction of watching us improve and knowing that YOU are the reason for our success.

#5) Don't be afraid to poke and prod adult ballet students into proper alignment or the correct position. 

Of course, it is always good practice to ask permission when it comes to physical touch — but don't assume you shouldn't give your adult ballet students hands-on corrections.

Many times, I cannot feel my alignment correctly until a teacher nudges me into place. Those pokes and prods are the most valuable corrections that I receive, because I finally begin to understand what correct placement actually feels like!

Once my teacher helps me find the position, I am so much closer to finding it on my own next time.

So, while it may be a good idea to ask permission first, please don't be afraid to offer us the same hands-on corrections that you give to your younger students. Most of us are going to greatly, greatly appreciate it.

#6) Give us ballet combinations that are pretty and make us feel like we are dancing. Adult ballet students want to dance! 

Think: lots of long, luscious port de bras and expressive movements with steps that cleanly and smoothly transition into each other. 

Too many awkward changes of direction can really confuse adult ballet beginners — it's not that we don't want to work our way up to more complicated combinations, but at the same time, we like to have at least a few combinations that allow us to relax, feel the music, and just dance.

In each class, I think there should be a good ratio of combinations that allow us to let go and dance to combinations that push us to really think about the details.

Please, challenge us, but also give us at least a handful of pretty, dance-y combinations during each class.

We will be so grateful. 

#7) Get to know your adult ballet students! We would love to get to know you, too.   

We are so grateful to you for teaching us ballet. THANK YOU!

You are literally making our ballet dreams come true every single time you give us class. 

Truly, most of your students are probably secretly fascinated by you and would love to know more about your life and your dance background. (I can vouch for this — I have been in awe of every ballet teacher I have ever had.)

And if you take the time to get to know us, you just might find that we are interesting, too!

I mean, what kind of a person decides to randomly take up ballet — a physically demanding art form known for it's impossible exactitude — as an adult? 

Super cool, people, that's who!

So get to know us! And we can't wait to get to know you, too. 

If you're an adult ballet student, what is something you wish you could say to your ballet teacher? And teachers, what kind of experience do you hope to give your adult ballet students?