Ballet Technique (Classical Dance)
Based upon long established concepts and ideas that were codified by Agrippina Vaganova in 1937, Ballet Technique develops the physical and mental coordination, the refined sense of music and movement and the muscular strength and flexibility that shapes the human body into a perfect instrument for classical and all other forms of dance. Up to six days a week students participate in a classical ballet class. Though the steps differ from day to day, the structure of the class closely follows an order that dates back almost three centuries.
The curriculum at MBA consists of seven levels. During the weekly schedule levels are often grouped together to afford the students opportunity interact with students with a broader range of accomplishment. Once a week students at each level will have a separate class just for their level. When classes are combined the instructor will adjust the exercises to fit the individual levels when it is appropriate.
In the first level the goal is to introduce the students to elementary exercises that will allow them to master the placement of the body (core), legs, arms and head. They are introduced to several of the basic movements of ballet such as bending of the legs (plié), raising on the ball of the feet (releve), and stretching of the legs (tendu, & jete). They also learn the appropriate way to execute gliding and jumping movements, as well as developing flexibility. They begin to learn preparation for turning exercises. All exercises are first completed facing the bar, and later are done with one hand at the bar. The exercises are done slowly to help students develop their muscles and body placement appropriately. Students are asked to pay careful attention to the tempo of the music. Most of the class at this level is spent doing barre work.
Students in level B continue developing their mastery of body, leg, arms, and head placement, while learning new movements and steps. The exercises are longer and students repeat the previously learned steps in an increased number. Students continue to develop strength and flexibility. By the second semester they begin to combine steps in simple ways. Tempo of the exercises is slow to allow students to concentrate on correct placement and lengthening of the body. The time spent at the barre is slightly reduced and increasingly more time is spent in center work where students have to learn to move without support from the barre.
Note: By the end of the second year students must have mastered the seven basic movements of ballet (pliér, relever, etendre, glisser, sauter, elancer, tourner).
In the third level students begin to learn to execute steps in releve in the center floor (no barre to support them), and are introduced to turning movements. They begin to combine steps in more complicated ways and begin to execute movements using different tempos.
In the first intermediate level. students work to strengthen the stability in turns and other exercises executed on half pointe. Strong emphasis is placed on developing smooth coordination of the arms, head and body. Increasingly more complex combinations of steps are executed.
The following elements will be stressed in level 5: mastering the technique of beats (beating steps); turns executed in various ways; starting the study of turns in big poses; developing the smoothness of graceful movements and suppleness; introducing more complicated forms of adagio; and developing elevation in the big jumps.
Also in this year, the study of jumps in various ways and the development of the ballon quality in the big jumps (bounce, springiness, elasticity of feet) will be stressed. Complicated combinations with beating steps performed in a quick tempo will be given as well. The exercises of previous years in combination with multiple turns from fifth position, with temps leve, and with preparations from second position at 45° are reiterated.
Advanced 1 & 2
At this Level, the execution of all fundamental movements is carried through with finishing touches to reach the perfection of classical dance. The accompanying tempo picks up speed, in comparison with the preceding lessons. In this level there is also an emphasis on physical development of virtuosity and artistry.
Men’s class is designed to fine tune the technique of male dancing, focusing on physical strength, power, and brilliance with particular emphasis on elevation, pirouettes and beats.
Modern Dance Technique
The Modern Dance Technique is based upon the principles formulated by Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, and Martha Graham, with emphasis upon the concepts of breath, weight, fall and recovery, and spinal articulation. Strength, flexibility and creativity are the major components.
Pas De Deux
Literally the “step of two,” pas de deux classes are the culmination of a student’s training. Due to the potential of physical injury, only the strongest males and the most appropriately conditioned females can participate in these classes. “Pas De Deux” training begins with simple promenades, floor work and basic pirouettes. Eventually, and only when the partners have developed the necessary strength and timing, they can partake in the aerial work such as overhead lifts, throws and catches.
One of the defining elements of classical ballet, female students attend three or more classes on pointe a week including classical repertory on pointe.
In variations class, students are exposed to the classical ballet repertoire by learning historically accurate choreographies from the great ballets. Students will learn excerpts from Swan Lake, Giselle, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, The Sleeping Beauty and many others.