Slow Down

I’ve never been a very patient person or dancer, and this has always been reflected in the kinds of classes I like to take.  I prefer a pretty fast class in which the barre just flies by so that I can get to center and really dance.  I love petit allegro, too—the faster, the better, and since I hate doing adagio, I prefer to get it over with quickly.  I enjoy a speedy and difficult class, and when I’m enjoying myself, I feel better about my dancing.  However, I’ve recently started taking a slower class twice a week, and it’s made me realize that the real test of your technique is not how fast you can dance or how many whip-like pirouettes you can do.  It’s about how refined your fundamental technique is, and I really believe now that this can only be achieved by regularly taking a slower class.

These kinds of classes may not be a lot of fun, and you may find yourself chomping at the bit to speed up, but it’s always worth it in the end. It’s a valuable opportunity to challenge yourself to make everything as perfect as you can, which in the end is a lot harder than flying through it without a second thought, because you don’t have time to think.  For example, take a simple movement like a passé relevé from fifth front to back.  Easy to do quickly, right?  After all, you just go up and down.  Now try it again, but stretch the descent of your working foot over eight slow counts without holding on to the barre, and without coming off relevé until that foot is in fifth.  It’s really hard to do without losing your balance, but if you practice it regularly, as I do in my slow classes, your pirouettes will definitely improve.  This is because what you’re really doing is practicing holding the retiré position and controlling your landing.  You’ll be able to do more and cleaner turns; not only because your balance will be more solid, but also because you’ll be more patient in staying on relevé or on pointe before putting your working foot down in fourth or fifth.  When I started doing this exercise, I was surprised at how much self-discipline it took not to get in my own way by slamming my foot back down on the floor as quickly as I could.

This is just one example of how a slower class can benefit your technique, but if you work correctly, everything you do in that class will benefit what you do in a faster class or in rehearsal.  Since you’ll have been able to identify and correct errors that you wouldn’t see in a fast class, your dancing will be cleaner and more confident overall.  More importantly, you’ll also learn to be more patient with yourself, and your work ethic will improve, which will not go unnoticed.

Latest Posts


Vikki Sloviter

Sydney Dolan Takes Center Stage at Pennsylvania Ballet

This is Pointe's Summer 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Just days before the world shuttered under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, and the curtain came down indefinitely on dance companies everywhere, Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Sydney Dolan debuted Gamzatti in La Bayadère with captivating ease. Her jumps soared, her technique was sound, and her cheeky smile paired with exquisite port de bras was beguiling. Though she didn't know the company would soon cancel the remainder of its season, her beautiful performance acted as a kind of send-off into the unknown.

Dolan's career could be described in one word: charmed. At just 19 years old, she's flown through the ranks at PAB, debuted a long list of roles, won a Princess Grace Award and been named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." Yet it's her challenges that have shaped not only her training but her outlook, giving her a solid foundation for becoming one of Pennsylvania Ballet's rising stars.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
VAM/Siggul, Courtesy YAGP

YAGP Has Announced the Winners of the 2020 Pas De Deux Virtual Competition

Last weekend, Youth America Grand Prix took to the internet, hosting its first virtual pas de deux competition. Over the course of three days, YAGP streamed videos from its regional events' highest-ranked competitors for a panel of esteemed judges. And, drum roll please... YAGP has just announced the winners, spanning three categories: Senior Classical, Junior Classical and Contemporary.

You can watch the full virtual awards ceremony, hosted by YAGP director of external affairs Sergey Gordeev, below, or scroll down for the list of winners. And if you're missing the thrill of competition, don't fear: Gordeev announced that registration for the 2021 season will open on July 10, with both in-person and virtual options available.

Congratulations to all!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Defining and Refining Musicality: How to Tune In and Develop Your Artistic Voice

Ask a hundred people what musicality is, and you're likely to get a hundred different answers. "Musicality is where an artist's personality shines brightest," says Smuin Contemporary Ballet member Ben Needham-Wood. For American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt, "it's what distinguishes one dancer from another. It helps me express myself more vividly and emotionally."

Teachers encourage it, directors seek it out and dancers who possess it bring choreography to life in compelling ways. But what exactly is musicality, and how can dancers get more of it?

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks