As a professional in today’s industry climate, I feel it’s absolutely necessary to try out as many different styles of technique class as possible – in fact, I really enjoy doing so.  However, I only feel comfortable doing so because the Vaganova method set me up with the technical arsenal to adapt myself to a variety of classical styles (and, invariably, from which to learn new and valuable skills). See this post for more on Russian ballet training.

 

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Weighing up the options

During my time at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, I followed very repetitive technique classes centred on turn out, use of demi-pointe and upper body port de bras. The repetition (especially leading up to exam time) built stamina and ingrained the rules of Vaganova technique in my brain – rules that have, when used properly, never failed me.

Russian training was my preferred route – everyone’s is different and identifying the correct ballet training for you should be tackled accordingly. There are many different styles of classical dance – Vaganova, Balanchine, Bournonville, French, Cuban, just to name a few.

Some schools focus very strongly on one particular style (think, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, etc) while others teach an amalgamation of a few styles, although, even so, they probably sway more to one particular method than another. The trick is to educate yourself through summer intensives/master classes in a variety of classical styles and by watching as many performances (live or online) from companies across the world; work out which methods of ballet you equally enjoy most, are best suited to, and from which you feel yourself improving at the fastest rate.

 At the Bolshoi, we also trained intensively in pas de deux, character, acting and gymnastics class; it’s worth checking out what the curriculum of your chosen school is to make sure you will be receiving training that prepares you for the sort of repertoire you want to dance in the future (if you dream of dancing Wayne McGregor’s work, for example, a strong contemporary base is definitely advisable, or for the dramatic John Neumier ballets, acting class is key).

Is this the career for you?

Another pretty crucial point, when thinking hard about the pre-professional journey, is being honest with yourself – do you really want this career? Classical dance is as much about mental aptitude as it is about the physical aspect of the art form; all the dancers I know that have continued to dance to professional level are intelligent and determined.

Any method of ballet training will teach you to be disciplined, but remember this is for yourself, not anyone else. It follows that you should give everything you’ve got to a specific style, once chosen, but if, after truly immersing yourself in it, you feel something’s not right, it’s perfectly ok to seek out other styles. In fact, in graduation year it’s probably even necessary to try and diversify your training; the more universal a dancer, the more employable you are.

 

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Do your research

Making the right choice can seem like a daunting prospect at first. Finding the best route takes time to research and try out, but it’s very much worth it; your ballet training will set a strong foundation upon which you can build your career as a professional dancer.

I hope you found this article helpful. For more ballet tips and to learn more about my dancing career, please take a look at the rest of the articles on my blog. You can also follow me on Instagram and like my Facebook page.

 

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