Corrections in ballet are compliments! It means your teacher cares about you. The teacher is saying, “I like you and want you to be a better dancer.” If you get lots of corrections, pat yourself on the back! You must be doing a great job!
You have to know how to “take” corrections. Getting the correction is only the first step. You have to work on the correction to improve your dancing.
Sometimes, if you understand the correction and your body is ready to change, you can apply a correction immediately. That’s fun, to change and improve before your teacher’s eyes.
But usually a correction takes time to improve your dancing.
Here are some tips for using corrections to improve your dancing:
- If you don’t fully understand a correction, talk to your teacher after class. Ask for an explanation so that you can take the correction and use it. I often have students ask me not only about the corrections I gave them, but also to clarify corrections another teacher gave them. Sometimes I can give them a different point of view, which helps them to improve.
- If you understand the correction, but your body can’t do it yet, talk to your teacher after class. Sometimes a teacher can give you exercises or stretches to do at home. You’ll be able to improve faster if you can practice at home.
- If you understand the correction and can do it, but not consistently, then you need to practice. Several things have helped me with practice:
- Make a list of your corrections. Before every class, read through the list. Try to work on as many corrections as you can in each class. Corrections are like weeds. You pull them out (fix them) and before you know it, they’ve grown back! Reading through your list helps you keep your dancing “weed free”.
- Pick one single correction and try to work on just that one thing for the whole barre (warm-up). I tried this over and over again. I never fully succeeded. The longest time that I could focus on one correction was three exercises. But I still improved very fast. Any amount of focus is better than none!
- “Burn the candle at both ends.” This quote usually refers to people who are working too hard and getting “burned out” or sick. I use it to mean “Pay attention to beginnings and endings.” Pick a correction to focus on. Let’s say you are working on body placement. At the beginning of each exercise, make your placement as good as you possibly can. Then at the end of the exercise, get the best placement you possibly can. Gradually the good placement at the beginning and end of the exercise will last a little longer and a little longer. Eventually, both ends will meet in the middle and you will have beautiful placement for the whole exercise!
- Pretend your favorite (or meanest) teacher is standing next to you while you do your barre exercises. I did this when I took classes in New York City. The classes are so big that you almost never get a correction. I imagined my favorite teacher standing next to me. His arms were crossed and he watched my every move, correcting every mistake I made. Even though I got almost no corrections in New York, I improved rapidly!
It is very important when you get a correction that you take it with a good attitude. It is irritating to have your teacher tell you that you have to fix something. Don’t let your irritation show! Making a face and rolling your eyes tells your teacher that you don’t want or appreciate help. I don’t think that is the message you want to send!
Sometimes I have gotten inappropriate corrections. A teacher once told me that my arm was wrong, and I knew that it was right. Instead of challenging the teacher, I asked myself, “What did she see that made her say that?” I realized that my back placement was incorrect and it made my arm LOOK wrong.
Some teachers have a hard time pinpointing what is wrong, but they are still seeing SOMETHING. So if you look at things through your teacher’s eyes, and try to see what she saw, you might be able to give yourself the correction.
A teacher’s job is to help you become a better dancer. If you take corrections well, you teacher will feel like she is making a difference. She will want to help you more and more. It is gratifying to a teacher to have a student who takes corrections well.
Always smile and thank your teacher when your get a correction. Then get to work on it!
The more corrections you can apply, the more your dancing will improve. Improvement is priceless. It’s one of the things that keeps us all going!
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