How Crucial is Spotting? Evidence-Based Pirouette Hacks for Adult Ballet Learners

So that pirouette thing continues spinning my head. For the first time ever, I had like two weeks in a row where I was consistently doing a double on the left side - a nice one even, not just getting around. But then last week I think I lost it again. It was better again today. So much for consistency.

There is an endless number of cues and corrections when learning and mastering a pirouette. From which one has always stood a bit out for me: Spotting.

What I have always wondered, from all the things you can focus on - how important is spotting when you are just learning a pirouette, or a double, or triple (I guess after that you got the hang of it, so you don’t need that question any more!)? And what actually happens during a spot, with your head, your eyes, and your brain? And if you know all that, how can that help you with learning to pirouette?

The Pareto Principle in Adult Ballet? How to Build 80% by Focusing on 20%

For a long time, I seriously doubted that the Pareto Principle could be applied to ballet.

This principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It was originally applied in the area of politics and economics, but has come a long way since then. It does sound quite crude, and it certainly is not exact science. But it has been surprisingly predictive.

Hobby or Calling? The Case For Becoming an Adult Ballerina

Could there be something like a late calling to ballet? And if so, how do you respond to it?

By calling I mean the quiet nudge to take your adult ballet beyond a hobby, beyond studio show cases - to becoming a dancer. Is it possible to become a ballerina despite starting at an age when professional ballerinas usually start wrapping it up?

I am aware that the conventional wisdom to this would be no.

Breaking Out of Repeated Failure: How to Turn on Your Ballet Learning Switch

Most of us have a pretty good idea of what it means to have the Learning Switch turned on or off. It is an actual change in the way your brain is working. You become more alert and you find yourself interested, suddenly grasping what you couldn’t understand before or being able to do something you couldn’t do before. - Anat Baniel (student of Moshé Feldenkrais) in “Kids Beyond Limits”

The ability to ‘learn how to learn’ is a big advantage you have as an adult. It means that you don’t always have to wait until you stumble upon success, but you can direct your efforts consciously and in a smart way - thus speeding up your learning process and get more easily through plateaus and frustrations.

There is once concept that I found quite profound in this regard.

Master Class Time with Principal Dancer Evan McKie: How my Son Got me Over My Scared Adult Ballet Self.

Ballet can be so incredibly intimidating.

Especially when you start out as an adult. You have to not only learn the technical and artistic side of it - but also sort of “decode” the whole ballet party. Like: Knowing class etiquette. How to stand in pictures. What to wear. How to have conversations. Not to clap between groups during exercises. And so on. Being late to the party means you’re breaking into this whole world of rituals, traditions, manners, conventions, old networks and relationships. You’re basically learning a new language (even literally).

Flexibility is Overrated: What you Really Need to Get the Front Split as an Adult Ballet Dancer

The front split is probably one of the most desired milestones for adult ballet dancers.

And there are probably just as many opinions and stretching recommendations for it as there are ballet websites on the Internet.

So here is to one more!

Basically, I want to add to add to the richness of split knowledge from the perspective of someone who:

  • started ballet at age 37, and not very flexible

  • was not born flexible, nor flexible as a child - and I never did any siginificant, deep stretching until my late thirties

The Number One Reason Why You Just "Don't Get it": Tackling Adult Ballet Learning Frustrations

Learning something new as an adult can often feel like you are just not smart/talented/coordinated enough to ‘get it’. Especially with something perfectionist like ballet, it can feel like only a few naturally graceful adults can expect results (those who won the genetic lottery, or who did gymnastics or figure skating as a child), while the rest of us has to settle for some sort of 50% version of it.

Alright, if you have followed my blog for a bit, then you know that I won’t give you the pleasure of indulging in this pre-neuroplasticity point of view. Hate to break the news - but we ALL are selected!

Why You Should Not Feel Guilty About Doing Ballet (Even if You do a Lot!)

For us late party ballet dancers, it’s easy to let ballet be pushed to the side when the going gets tough.

You may have a demanding job*, a bunch of kids to take care of, or a slightly possessive boyfriend. Maybe you do volunteer work on top of it, and then there is always a full email inbox to work through. Or you are possibly buying/building a new house, or going through a custody battle at court. You name it.

Don't Give up on Your Pirouette: How to Help Your Adult Ballet Brain Understand Rotation

One of my core drivers for this blog is the fact that adults simply learn differently than children. And while we all have great and dedicated teachers, most of them are so good because they learned ballet as a child and had a career as a professional dancer. And that’s great. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am grateful for teachers who have been dancing for a long time and have a solid amount of stage experience.

The other side of that experience is that these teachers haven’t lived through the feeling and challenges of starting ballet later in life.

These Five Neuroplasticity Principles May Significantly Change The Way (And How Fast) You Learn Ballet

How the heck do you define and explain neuroplasticity?

I keep trying, but I am not at a version that makes me fully happy. Even experts remain a bit vague. It really IS a hard-to-come-by term - but also one of the currently hottest topics in neuroscience, rehab, and education.

So let’s try anyway. I’ll give you a bit of history-in-a-nutshell first: Until a few decades ago, science believed that once you are done with being a child, your brain is essentially fixed like concrete.