Class Etiquette

Etiquette in ballet class is vitally important for both respect and responsibility.  It’s important that we have utmost professionalism at all times in class so that you can notify your teachers of your respect for them and your appreciation of the corrections and advice that they offer to you.  So, in order to achieve these simple yet complex elements of respect, here is my list of necessary pieces of etiquette.  Etiquette can also help you in the long term by helping with job offers, auditions, and production casting.  I have even included a quiz at the end for you to test your knowledge on this course.

Remember, the most important thing in regards to class etiquette is respect.


Prior

Grand Rapids Ballet company dancer Cassidy Isaacson does a stretch in a la seconde before company class.

Before class should be filled with just as much respect for your teachers and elders as there is in the duration of class.  Below is a list of descriptive words for what prior to class should feel like:

  • concentrated and focused
  • quiet and hushed (whispers only!)
  • efficient and productive

In order to achieve these items of respect, here is my list of do’s and don’ts for prior to class:

DO…

  • Create a conditioning routine that will adequately prepare you for the upcoming time.
  • Be there AT LEAST 30 minutes early.  I recommend 45 minutes – 1 hour for the most preparation possible.  Anything over that can get a bit underproductive.  Spend as much of this time possible conditioning.
  • Talk quietly to your peers (and competition!)  This can be spent as a time for getting to know one another and getting a good laugh out of things.  Don’t be afraid to socialize!
  • Select a barre spot immediately.  Waiting around will only confuse people and make everything even more hectic in the minutes before class starts!
  • Review your corrections.  Everybody should keep a journal and write down any corrections they have ever received, and any choreography they have ever learned.  Review these things in your journal while you’re stretching before class for maximum productivity.

DON’T…

  • Take somebody else’s spot at the barre!  The rule for EVERYWHERE is that if they got there first, they have that spot.
  • Be this person:
    • Once upon a time, it was a Tuesday and we were all waiting for class to begin, doing our exercises.  All of us were perfectly following the rules, except one girl.  I went over to the side of the room to put down my warm ups and toolkit for my muscles.  When I came back, somebody was standing in the spot I had previously reserved.  I said, “Sorry, I was standing there.”  She said, “Calm down, I was only talking.”  I was very angry.

    • If you have reserved a spot at the barre and you want to stand there and do your exercises, you should be able to!  Please tell that person to stand that was standing in your spot unproductively to move.
  • Wear only a leotard and tights.  It comes across as disrespectful to a teacher – it looks as if you don’t need a passive warm up (or any warm up, really) for their class because their class is “so easy.”
New York City Ballet dancer does resistance band exercises before class.

During

During class is when your real respect can shine through.  Below are some adjectives that should describe the feeling of the room during class…

  • focused and concentrated
  • respectful (towards the teacher, pianist, and other students)
  • quiet (only the teacher, pianist, or a student asking a question may talk)

Here is my do’s and don’ts list…

DO…

  • Listen to your teacher and be very quiet!
  • Mark the combinations as your teacher gives them.
  • Stand directly aside to the person you are across from if you are standing at the center barre.  That way, your hands always fall in the right place and you don’t get in eachother’s way.
  • Be spatially aware!  Know that if you have to travel one way during a center combination, you should give yourself room to do that.  Don’t stand directly next to somebody so that it’s awkwardly close and prohibits them from doing a combination full out!  This applies at the barre, as well.  Angle in big extensions.  Don’t hit anybody!
  • Stand in the back corner during a center combination that you’re not dancing during (multiple groups).  Stay out of everybody’s way!
New York City Ballet dancers in class.

DON’T…

  • Vary any combinations unless you have told your teacher beforehand that you are injured and that it is necessary.
  • Ask any personal questions.  Those should be asked after class.  If you have an injury and it prohibits you from dancing fully, your teacher should have been notified before class, and then talked to again afterwards.
  • Turn your back to your teacher or talk!  Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Go in the first group if you don’t know the combination.  That doesn’t make any sense, and it’s only super distracting for the people that are trying to dance and do know the combination.
  • Stand in front of or directly next to people in the back if they are doing the combination full out or even marking it and you’re just standing there when you’re not dancing.  If you ever do multiple groups for a center combination, please, please do not get in the way of the people that are in the group that is dancing, or even people who aren’t in the dancing group but are practicing, marking, or mimicking in the back.
  • Lean against the barre!  That’s super disrespectful.
Prestige Pittsburgh Ballet students execute well-placed tendus and proper etiquette during class.

Appearance

Here are my basic pointers on appearance so you can look utmost professional:

  • Have neat hair!  I recommend a classical bun or chignon that is slicked back, neat, good quality, and won’t bother you.  If you would like a bun tutorial, please don’t hesitate to ask for one!
  • Don’t wear ripped tights or leotards!  Ripped warm ups are fine before class,  they are actually kind of in fashion.  🙂  But, never wear ripped or runned tights or leotards, it looks as if you don’t care and you are very disrespectful.
  • Take care of your personal hygiene.  Make sure you wear whatever you need to wear and do whatever you need to do.  No bad breath in pas de deux class!  That’s the worst of all.
  • Wear neutral makeup.  Look presentable and nice, but don’t cache your face with loads upon loads of unnecessary cosmetics.  Be sensible, and keep it natural.
Beautiful hair for a class at the Prix de Lausanne.

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE…

Now it’s time to see what you learned and test your knowledge.  Take the quiz below and use the URL when you’ve finished to check your answers.

Take the quiz: click HERE


Thanks for reading this article on etiquette during ballet class.  Leave a comment down below telling us how you did on the quiz.  Never hesitate to give us any feedback or ask any questions.

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2 thoughts on “Class Etiquette

  1. Hahahaha the thing about barre spots is so true!! But sometimes you can’t blame people when there is no room, I mean too many people and they’re all in splits, that’s a nightmare for someone just coming in.

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