Barry Kerollis, a ballet teacher who prepares students of all ages for the stage

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Photos by Shalem Photography

Barry Kerollis is a renowned choreographer and dance educator. He is also a writer, blogger, and social media aficionado, and in addition to all of that, he has made quite a splash with his podcast Pas de Chat, which is featured on the Premier Dance Network...

I recently came across Kerollis' article "How I Grew to Love Teaching Adults to Dance" in Dance Magazine, and as I read it, I could not stop nodding my head in agreement with everything he shared about his approach to teaching adult ballet students.

Although Kerollis initially felt reluctant and even blasé about the prospect of teaching ballet class to adults, his attitude quickly changed once he discovered how eager and enthusiastic adult ballet students can be about learning ballet.

In his article, Kerollis shares his own unique perspective as an adult ballet teacher, and the following portion really stood out to me. Kerollis writes:

Before I stepped to the front of the [adult ballet] classroom, I did some research as a student in other adult beginner classes. I found that the focus was often on fun and charm. This meant that information was generalized, corrections were rarely specialized or hands-on, and classroom etiquette was infrequently enforced.

But I remembered how necessary it was to have instructors physically adjust me when I was training. I thought to myself, "How can these dancers ever understand technique if they aren't shown how it feels to dance?" I also found myself incredibly frustrated by the students' lack of awareness of certain etiquettes, like how to share a barre, when to ask questions and proper spacing in center.

Being a young teacher at the age of 28, I questioned whether adults (most of them my senior) would be open to me enforcing strict rules, or if they would adapt to me putting my hands on their bodies to convey placement or movement.

In the end, I decided to use the same approach with all of my students, from young pre-professionals to middle-aged recreational dancers and beyond. It is my opinion that whether a dancer plans to have a performance career or not, they all need to be taught to be ready to step onstage. (Emphasis added.)

No matter their age, skill-level, or future prospects in the dance world, Kerollis teaches all of his students as if he were preparing them to perform.

This is actually quite logical — ballet is a performance art, after all.

Ballet is also steeped in etiquette and traditions.

Watering down the richness of ballet to accommodate an adult class is a disservice to both the art form and to the adult students.

I really admire Kerollis' approach to teaching adults and wish all ballet teachers would offer their adult students this type of training and experience.

In my last blog post, "7 Things Adult Ballet Students Wish They Could Their Teachers," I expressed that adult ballet students don't go to class just to have fun and get in shape.

Yes, that is part of why we go, but more importantly, we go to ballet class because we love ballet and want to experience it in a meaningful way.

I think the majority of adult ballet students are longing for the type of training that Kerollis offers.

We go to class hoping for personalized corrections and in-depth explanations of technique, musicality, and artistry.

We don't want the material to be oversimplified, and we don't our errors to be flippantly dismissed.

We want to improve, and we want to be prepared for stage whether or not we ever perform. 

I found Kerollis's perspective and his approach to adult ballet both encouraging and refreshing. He is exactly the kind of ballet teacher any adult ballet student could hope to have.

You can follow Kerollis on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, and you can listen to his podcast on the Premier Dance Network here.