I started ballet when I was eight years old from the very bottom. I had terrible technique, awful stage presence, and overall was pretty much clueless about this elegant art in general. Here are some mistakes that I made when I started ballet and what you can avoid doing all together.
Turning My Foot In
When my teacher told me to turn my foot out, I turned it in. I did this simply because I thought she meant for me to turn the inside of my foot out. If you think anything like me, I should let you know now that when someone says turn your foot out, it simply means to rotate your whole leg out rather than in.
Having No Facial Expression
Wether you are just at rehearsal, class time, or on stage, you should always be expressive. You don't always have to smile, though. If music is adagio, which is a slow, often sorrowful sounding music, you would be more calm and less expressive. If it is more allegro, which is upbeat and often cheerful, you would be more exciting and joyful. Please don't ever go without expressing yourself like I did.
This kind of goes hand in hand with the previous mistake, but being timid in ballet is actually not the way to be. Along with the fact the being expressive is a must, coming out of my shell outside rehearsals was pretty important too. The more I learned to be expressive with my friends, the more that was reflected into my stage presence.
I know this kind of goes without saying, but bad posture is a big no-no in ballet. As soon as I learned proper posture, the rest of my technique became even better. The proper balletic posture goes as follows: draw your ribs in, put your shoulders down and back, lean slightly forward, elongate your neck as if a string was pulling up your head, and lift your sternum.
You wouldn't think that with getting hot and sweaty that one would forget to breathe in ballet. I, along with many of my classmates, forgot to breathe, however. It is actually quite a task to learn how to breathe while you are thinking of your technique. Make sure you practice breathing from your diaphragm, and to practice breathing exercises as well.
Going with the Crowd
One terrible mistake I made when I started ballet was following other people's mistakes. If someone would roll their feet in, I would roll my feet in. Even if the teacher previously told us not to. I did this simply for the fact that I was afraid to stand out, even to possibly be laughed at by my classmates. NEVER be afraid to stand out in class by doing the right thing. Plus, your teachers will love you. 😉
I hope you learned from my mistakes sooner than I did. Be patient, however, your technique still won't change overnight. Over time, you will improve. Never give up. The show must go on!
We're fools wether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. -Japanese Proverb