If you are new to teaching adult ballet, there are a few things you may want to consider. Teaching adults is not the same as teaching kids–there are a different set of concerns, and they are often coming to class for different reasons. Here are a few things to keep in mind that can help get you started off on the right foot (sorry for the bad pun!):
+ Ask about injuries. This is a very important thing. Many adults will have some type of physical issue that can limit them in certain ways when it comes to taking ballet class. I have a student with a hip replacement, one with a bad ankle and one with a bad back. You absolutely must know about these things ahead of time. Don’t try to play doctor–ask your student to check with their physician about what they can and can’t do in ballet class–and remember to follow up so that you are aware…
+ Use caution with turns. Since turns can be dangerous, make sure that you are exposing adult students to them slowly. Teach spotting first and explain it several different ways so that you are certain the students understand. Tell them how to do it, show them how, and then have them practice slowly. Start with something easy like chaine turns or soutenous and pass on fouettes. Limit them to two or three in the beginning and make sure you do them every class so that they can get used to the feeling of how to turn.
+ Do jumps sparingly. Small jumps are a better idea than large ones overall as they are easier on the body and generally have less risk involved. There is nothing wrong with including jumps, but be sure that you are mixing them in with other combinations so that you don’t overtax your students.
+ Be sure to encourage them. Don’t forget to remind adult students that they should be patient with themselves and that they will improve with time. The learning curve in ballet is long and slow and even if they took dance in the past, they may have forgotten how much time it can take to master a movement at the barre or in the center. A little encouragement can go a long way.