So often in life we are expected to ‘get it right’ – whatever ‘it’ might be. There’s a sense that we should have known better than to make a mistake, creating an expectation that we always need to be right. This is not the case in the ballet studio! Don’t try to hide them – mistakes are good!
If ballet is new to you then it’s important to understand that being corrected for a mistake in class is a very good thing. Many new students feel that doing something wrong and being corrected for it is negative. Yes, something has gone astray, but it also means that your teacher has noticed you and wants to help you. Their correction is going to enhance your learning experience.
Some corrections will create discussion in your class and this means that everyone will get the benefit of the teacher’s attention. It will give you an opportunity to consider a step or an enchaînement in a way that you hadn’t before, regardless of whether it’s your mistake or not. If you are able to give the new and improved way a try, then even better! Which leads into our number two…
A correction in class gives the perfect opportunity to practice. Practicing whilst under the careful watch of your teacher is the ultimate practice. Your teacher understands how a movement should be executed and can help you make adjustments to improve the quality or balance of the movement. Even if the correction hasn’t been given to you specifically, you will benefit from trying it on your body. There are times that corrections are personal, but if the correction is general enough and can be applied to everyone then a good teacher will discuss it with the class. The point of an adult ballet class is to learn ballet! You are not expected to be able to do everything perfectly on your first try! Practice during class will not only improve your technique, but help you develop a good ‘ballet’ work ethic.
Without making mistakes, your ability to develop an understanding of ballet and how it works for your body remains limited. Mistakes encourage discoveries, which in turn develops our understanding. Working with adult bodies means that one size does not fit all. The guiding principles of ballet will always remain unchanged, but individual bodies will respond differently to the technique. Making mistakes will help you understand the unique way that ballet sits on your body. We are all different and that is to be celebrated!
Not knowing something in your ballet class doesn’t make you inadequate – it gives you an opportunity to learn and improve your knowledge as well as your technique. If your mistakes lead to corrections, which enhance your understanding and lead to good practice, then you are going to improve. You will also improve your ballet brain, as the thinking required for ballet is immense! When good thinking habits can develop alongside good moving habits then you are on track for maximum improvement, which means you’ll be getting the most out of your ballet class.
In essence, mistakes mean opportunities for learning. And whilst we’re not suggesting that you should actively try to make mistakes (!) it’s more than okay when they happen.