Ensuring that the timing of a 90-minute class delivers the best results can be struggle. Here, two teachers discuss the importance of leaving enough time to maximize your dancers’ strength.
It’s a struggle to build stamina while focusing on the finer details of artistry and execution. But try to leave yourself enough time at the end of class for exercises like petit allégro and grand allégro. “If I’m not having them jump by the 20-minute mark prior to the end of class, I’m already late,” says Kristina Windom from The Washington School of Ballet.
Andrea Paris-Gutierrez of Los Angeles Ballet Academy also prefers 20 to 30 minutes of jumping, but only for dancers with good strength and alignment. “You have to build up to it,” she says. “A lot of kids sit in front of computers or in cars, and they don’t get a lot of running, skipping and jumping in their regular day. If they don’t do it when they’re little, they get injured as they grow, because they haven’t built up strength in the ankles and shins.” For dancers under 10, Paris-Gutierrez incorporates these activities into class first and then introduces basic ballet jumps.
Another way to build stamina is to pick longer selections of music, to keep dancers moving. In center, give eight counts between groups so there’s no stopping. “It’s a great way to make them pay attention to when it’s their turn,” says Paris-Gutierrez, “and the students can skip around and repeat it.”