Ballet Term Definition

Class or ballet class is a lesson taken by a dancer or ballet dancer.  For serious students or professional dancers, class is taken at least once daily, usually five or six days out of the week.

For a student, dedication and resources to take a daily class is practically necessary for any hope at a professional career.  This is simply because of the degree of difficulty of achieving a high level of technique and need for a dancer’s body and muscles to get used to the movement and endurance, among many other things, required to become a professional.

For a professional, taking class daily is also important, whether required by their company or not.  A professional ballet dancer will take class before a day of rehearsal or a performance.  The class is to not only maintain their level of technique, but also improve upon it.  It also serves as a warmup, allowing the dancer to engage the right muscles that will be used throughout a full day of rehearsals or a performance.  Professional dancers must take a class, much like a professional baseball team is expected to go to a practice; how could a top level athlete maintain their ability without a practice?  A professional dancer, as athletes, are no different.

A typical ballet class will start at the barre with a series of exercises given by the class teacher.  The exercises typically start slow and progress in speed and difficulty with each exercise done on both the left and right “sides” of the barre.  Once the barre exercises are complete, a teacher will call the dancers into the center and continue the class with exercises done away from the barre. These exercises typically have more movement to them since they aren’t restricted by holding on to a stationary barre.  Center exercises eventually progress to jump combinations including small, medium and big jumps.  Sometimes a teacher will give a révérence at the end of the class, which is an exercise done with all the dancers as a sort of “cap” or “finale” that usually contains some sort of bow to the teacher and pianist (if there is one of course).