How to Master Ballet Moves

by Goody Clairenstein
Ballet is a challenging and rewarding art form.

Ballet is a challenging and rewarding art form.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Ballet is a beautiful art form that requires dedication, determination, and a positive attitude in order to reach mastery. While you don't need to begin at age 3 in order to become an excellent ballet dancer, you will need to put in a lot of time and effort to master the ballet moves that make up the classical dance repertoire. The old aphorism that practice makes perfect is a cliché because it's true - with practice, you can be a great dancer, and get creative with the choreography you know and love.

Items you will need

  • Barre
  • Ballet shoes
  • Pointe shoes
  • Tights
  • Leotard or close-fitting dancewear
  • Practice dance floor or studio space
Step 1

Set aside time that you dedicate exclusively to practicing ballet moves. Setting a schedule and sticking to it are the most important and basic steps you can take towards mastering ballet moves. Whether you are pursuing a self-study schedule, joining a dance academy, or apprenticing with a dance instructor, you will need space to dance, preferably with a professional dance floor, lots of space, a barre, and a mirrored wall so you can check your form. Set aside as much time as possible each week -- five days a week is ambitious but can help you meet your goals faster, and you can dedicate the time you would normally dedicate to other endeavors, such as general exercise, to practice dancing.

Step 2

Establish a curriculum. Ballet is an immensely complex and varied dance form. It is, however, built on a set of established dance moves, starting from the very basic five foot positions, leaps, and jumps, to the more complex pas de bourrées, chassés, and battements. If you are starting to learn ballet, it is essential that you begin at the beginning -- if you try complex moves that professional dancers always make look so easy, you will become frustrated. Use a beginner ballet DVD to set a beginner curriculum if you are not a dance student or don't have an instructor. Your beginner curriculum should cover the five foot positions, arm position, and some basic jumps and leaps that use the barre and the floor.

Step 3

Practice, practice, practice. Mastering ballet moves requires extraordinarily focused concentration and a heightened awareness of your body and positioning. Everything about the way you hold and move your body is vital to mastering ballet -- when you practice, be aware of everything from your toes to fingertips to the top of your head. Ballet instructors, both live and on DVDs, will tell you to imagine your head is attached to a string that is suspended taut directly to the ceiling to make sure you keep your chin up, shoulders back and down, to maintain good ballet posture.

Step 4

Enlist the help of a friend or instructor. If you can't afford lessons or don't have a schedule that accommodates taking lessons, inquire about periodic private lessons so that a professional dancer can check your form and offer guidance. If you have a friend who is a dancer, ask them to practice with you from time to you so that they can help you avoid getting bored with your routine. Hiring a private instructor for however often you can afford is also important if you plan to dance en pointe, which usually requires special training and building ankle and foot strength.

Step 5

Remember the importance of regular exercise. The lithe, graceful form of a ballet dancer often disguises the immense strength necessary to execute ballet moves correctly and beautifully. Exercise classes that are based on ballet, such as the Bar Method, are springing up all over the country -- try one out to learn appropriate strength training moves. Pilates classes are also excellent for ballet, as they build strength through low-impact resistance training to create long, lean muscles perfectly suited to ballet mastery. High-impact exercise, such as running, is ill-suited to the goal of becoming a good dancer, because it can affect joints in the long run and lead to injury that can incapacitate you as a dancer. Use machines such as ellipticals and stationary bikes to build cardio strength and endurance. Swimming is also an ideal low-impact workout.

About the Author

Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images