Ballet has many serious (and mysterious!) ways, and to the newly minted ballet student, it can feel like a minefield! There are many expectations around your behaviour in the ballet studio, and they’re not always when you’re dancing. Think you’re on top of them? Read on to find out…
First on the list is chewing, of any sort. Gum is the obvious one, but you’d be surprised what teachers come across. Don’t chew in class, ever! Yes, it’s unattractive, but more importantly, it’s an OH&S issue. You may feel that you know your teacher well, but do you really want them to be giving you mouth to mouth when you choke during allegro?
Everyone loves a good chat, but as soon as you step into the studio space you should be in the ballet zone, which means no casual talking. Save the social catch up for after class. And if you are a serial offender, don’t be surprised if your teacher moves you on the barre!
This one can drive even the sanest teacher crazy! Mobile phones should be off or on silent anyway, but the break between barre and centre is NOT an opportunity for you to check your phone. Your social media accounts will manage just fine for the hour and a half that you are in class. There are, of course, exceptions, but these should be discussed with your teacher before class. No phone checking, unless you’d like to be doing 64 sautés to make amends!
Everyone has moments when they need a little leaning time, but that is not during your ballet class! The barre is not there to prop you up at any stage. The barre should be treated with respect – it is your partner for the first part of class. Would you drape yourself across a human dancing partner if you felt tired? No! Stand on your own feet, everybody!
So if there’s no leaning on the barre, there’s definitely no sitting down! This includes any type of stretching that you think you might need to be doing. You are far better off staying on your feet to mobilise your body, including during the break between barre and centre. When your teacher tells you to rest, they mean you can relax your body from your ballet technique, not have a sit-down!
Some teachers would argue that this should be much further up the list! There is nothing more off-putting for a teacher than to have students yawning their heads off during class. You might be tired, you might not be breathing enough or you might be bored… Hopefully not the last one! The point is if you do need to yawn you should be trying to minimise it as much as possible – for common courtesy if nothing else.
Unless it’s between barre and centre (and even then it should be quick), you are expected to stay in the studio. Ballet is a physical activity and so if you leave the studio without checking in with your teacher, you are likely to be chased down out of concern for your wellbeing. Students’ safety is a priority – we need to know that you are okay. This rings true regardless of the studio space – if you are off the tarkett, then you are out of the studio.
Being corrected is a wonderful thing, as it helps you to improve. However, being corrected during an enchâinement is not an invitation to have a discussion. Teachers are expecting you to listen and implement what is being asked. There is no need to respond! If you need clarification, wait until the end of the enchâinement to ask. There is also no need to thank your teacher for the correction – it’s their job!
Sometimes being late is unavoidable, and it’s understandable that you want to jump straight into class to get going. However, consider the disruption caused to other students already in their ballet zone if you race in and plonk yourself on the barre. It is expected (and good manners) to apologise to your teacher and wait for them to place you on the barre at an appropriate time. Remember if you are too late, you will not be allowed to start for safety reasons. If that’s the case then consider staying to watch the class, as your brain will still learn!
Ballet etiquette can seem overly strict, but it is part of the tradition and what makes ballet, ballet. Knowing these dos and don’ts will help you navigate the ballet world and also keep your teacher happy!