I would never want to suggest you can learn ballet dance without a class and a teacher. It just is not possible to study classical technique by yourself. However, there is so much technical data to learn about ballet, that you can study this huge body of material at home, with the help of photos and some video footage, and you will gain an advantage for your progress in dance classes.
If you are a teen, or an adult ballet beginner, you have a lot of catching up to do. But, you can get ahead on the technical end of things if you understand some basics, which you can learn on line. To point out some basics:
- ballet turnout
- ballet barre exercises
- higher leg extensions
- core muscle exercises
If you have already begun your classes, you have noticed that the ballet teacher will explain and correct as much as is possible throughout the class – yet, the pace must be maintained to warm up and keep the muscles ready to work. There is no time to take notes or mull over the material.
Learning the French ballet words is essential. While there is some variation of how these words and phrases are used in the Cecchetti, R.A. D. and Vaganova methods, the terms are pretty well universal.
Posture is a little tricky in ballet, because the classical technique uses of the body is not always anatomically correct. However, while standing on two feet, the spine can always be maintained with its natural curves at the neck, upper back and waist area.
If you are older and less flexible, you will not be able to maintain this posture in every ballet position, but you can always return to the correct spinal posture. This is something that will improve as you get stronger and learn how to get really flexible.
Understanding how much you can improve your ballet turnout means discovering your natural turnout, and working on the correct rotator muscles. Clenching your butt and hip muscles doesn’t help rotate your thighs, and in fact, this creates too much muscle tension. I’ll give a reference to the ballet turnout factor at the end of this article.
The ballet barre routines improve your ballet technique. This includes working toward higher leg extensions, through development of your core muscles. Cross training for these elements is Pilates – strengthening the core muscles, and increasing flexibility at the same time.
Barre exercises may be varied in a class. Your teacher may give brand new exercises every class, and you have to learn them instantly in order to get some use out of the exercise. Or, you may be learning a syllabus grade, in which case the exercises will be exactly the same every class. This helps with the correct execution of the technical details, because you are not challenged with memorizing a new combination all the time.
This all sounds a little dry, but basically you are dancing because you love it. Ballet inspires you and while there is much to learn, you will feel the movements and the music and get that intangible satisfaction. To someone else, this looks like a thankless grinding effort, but not to you.