BWW Blog: Claire van Bever - Cracking the Code of Class Etiquette
In today's modern world people often complain, "Chivalry is dead! Manners are gone! Where are the social graces of the past?" I'll tell you where they are: a ballet studio. While the outside world has left behind many of these "outdated" social graces, they are what keep a ballet studio focused, polite and structured. It can sometimes be daunting to be a new ballet student, and feeling like you're out of the loop, but maybe this blog will help you "crack the code" of ballet class etiquette.
First off, entering and exiting the studio. If you get there early or on time, you can usually just walk right in, and take your place at the barre. If there is a class still going on in the studio that your class is in, wait until they have finished, let the dancers exit, and then take your place at the barre. If you show up late (the horror!) it gets a little tricky. I always go for this tactic: Wait at the door, quietly, looking at the teacher. If he or she acknowledges you, you may enter, and immediately, quickly apologize for your lateness. Then take your barre spot, and do some pliés to warm up before joining in with the rest of the class. If your teacher says you may not enter, then, tough luck. You might have to watch the rest of class, or see if you can take another class later. Know that your teacher is only trying to set a precedent for tardiness, it is not a personal affront to you. After class, always apologize again for your lateness, ballet is all about being overly polite! As for exiting the studio, if you are leaving the studio with the rest of your class, there is no special etiquette to be followed, besides getting your things quickly and leaving immediately if another class is beginning. If you have to leave class early, gather your stuff and wait by the door until your teacher acknowledges you, then bow or curtsy and quietly say thank you before leaving. It is also common courtesy to tell your teacher before class that you will have to leave early.
Ballet dancers are territorial...really territorial, to the point of death glares. You don't want to be on the receiving end of a ballet dancer's death glares. You might shrivel under the pressure. To help you avoid that terrible fate, here's a few tips! If you are new to the class, you can approach an empty barre spot and ask "Does anyone usually stand here?" It's important that you ask if someone typically stands there as opposed to asking, "Is somebody standing here?" or "Did someone save this spot?" The first version will prevent you from standing in someone's favorite spot, and avoiding the glare. If you are a Trainee in a company you must wait until all company members have spots, then you can find a barre spot. It's not fun, but its part of being a Trainee. Center is usually more of a free for all, so you can go in whichever group you want, unless the teacher specifies otherwise. If you are man, then always go last, and stand behind the ladies. Also, a note to the male dancers out there, since you always you get to go last, you have no excuse for not knowing the combination/making up your own combination! Teachers love it when you know the combination, trust me.