with Esther Juon-Veitch

Saturday Morning Children's Classes

The idea is to make the classes simple and easy to follow. Everything will be taught from a bio-mechanical point of view and you will find out why you do a movement, what it is for and what it will lead to eventually. So a ballet class will not have to be a mystery where you simply follow and learn by copying. The aim is to for you to discover the range of your own movement and what your body can and cannot cope with.

What are the Children's Ballet Classes about?

The children's ballet classes are planned for Saturday morning and the children need to be 7 years old to attend these classes. We will try and grade the classes by age. The children will be following a structured class tailored to the children attending this class. The aim is to introduce the children to ballet and awake the love of dance in them.

Adult Ballet Classes

To give an introduction to ballet, establishing basic class discipline, learning to share space, time and attention with other children. The classes aim at developing an understanding of the structure of classical ballet and most importantly, develop the love of dance and music.

What are the Adult Ballet Classes about?

The adult ballet classes are open to all ages over 14 years old. To start with the classes will be graded by age. Everyone will attend a beginner’s course and then the classes will be graded, Grade 1, Grade 2 etc. There will be a proper structure to the course of learning, which will allow you to work up to your full potential.

Esther's Ballet Philosophy

The idea of ballet is magic to most young children and especially little girls. Entering the world of ballet through a “Mother and Toddler” group should be a special experience of entering a world of fantasy. Through storytelling, exploring simple movements, through games and play the children get gently introduced to the social skills required to attend a ballet class when they are a bit older. This class offers the opportunity for the child to gain confidence, share time, space and attention with other children and ultimately let go of mum so the child will form her/his first friendships and interests without mum being there. This process will take time and each child will complete this step in her/his own time.

The bones in children in this age group are very soft and vulnerable to damage. Doing a “ballet class” with the “legs turned out” at this stage, is not a possibility as working in turn-out will need much more understanding and being able to concentrate. The concentration span of these children is very short and so exploring natural movement through music, rhythm, play and improvisation is a much safer option.

Once the children start Kindergarten and school the training changes to gradually introduce very basic ballet steps but again this has to be introduced carefully through a Syllabus called Pre-Syllabus. This is also the very first level a child can explore the excitement of what it is like to take a ballet exam. They experience the fun of it and that the classes lead to a reward and recognition for the work learned and performed during the year. The children receive a badge for their work as well as a certificate.

Then there are two more Exams available called Pre-Primary and Primary. During these grades the children learn more about ballet and putting the steps together into simple patterns. These classes still have creative elements, play, music, rhythm and improvisation and the children are invited to contribute with their ideas too.
Esther will establish which would be the best level for the young dancer to deliver an exam at the end of the year.

These classes then lead into a real ballet class, now using all the basic elements learned in the Pre-grades, building a movement library on which the training of ballet will be based. The children move up through the grades 1-5, taking on average one year for each level. When it gets to Grade 3 two ballet classes per week are recommended and the children need to start practising at home too!

After our dancers have passed Grade 5 Ballet Exams the dancers can stay together in the same classes, but the work has two streams called Grade 6 (no pointe work) and Intermediate Foundation (starting pointe work). The actual work stays the same for both groups but Inter/Foundation dancers will do the last part of the exam on pointe and the Grade 6 dancers will perform their work on demi-pointe which is half pointe and wearing ordinary ballet shoes.

Needless to say pointe work is what every dancer aspires to and most of our students will achieve this goal. For pointe work the dancer needs to be very strong physically and have completed the adolescent growth spurt. During the adolescent growth spurt the dancer not only does a lot of growing but is emotionally on a roller coaster. The dancer needs careful management during this period of growing. They need plenty of sleep, good food and patience and their training has to be adjusted to cope with the rapid growing. For these reasons each dancer is assessed for “pointe readiness” individually before such a step is taken.

There are three more levels our dancers can achieve, Intermediate and Advanced 1 + 2. Passing these higher Exam Grades allows the dancer gains points for entry to any University.
My aim is to get all my dancers to achieve Intermediate level because it will give them the entry qualification either into full time dance training or entry into starting a teachers training course in later life.
Our Adult dancers have the very same opportunities and when I was teaching in the UK, 4 of my adults gained Intermediate level on “pointe” and two of them went on to successfully pass Advanced 1.