top of page

Starting Ballet Class on the Right Foot

young ballet dancers facing the barre

Do you have a ritual to start each of your ballet classes? You probably have your own, personal pre-class ritual as a dancer that involves warming up, rolling out, and generally centering yourself for the work to come. While this individualized routine might have started as physical self-care only, the act of repeating the same sequence over and over has elevated this to ritual status for you.

Why do you (and your students) benefit from a ritual beginning to class? Rituals (a set of actions and/or words that are repeated regularly) help us transition from one activity to another. They are a signal to your brain that it is time to focus on a particular activity and are a predictable structure you can count on, no matter how crazy your day has been. When we are able to set class time apart as something special, it helps quiet the chatter in our brains enter that alert relaxed state that best fosters learning.

A starting ritual is not necessarily the same thing as a set warmup. In order to get the benefits from an opening ritual, it must encourage mindfulness. Advanced dancers who have created their own pre-class habits might naturally do this but less experienced students need guidance learning this skill. The set warmup you do prepares their bodies, while the welcome ritual prepares their minds. Fortunately a ritual can take far less time than a warmup! Some examples of welcome rituals include:

  • Welcoming each student by name as they walk in the studio. Create a set response for the student as well so that the ritual is something they get to participate in. They could bow/curtsy, say hello to you by name, show you a favorite dance step, etc.

  • Taking roll by asking students a "get to know you question." While the question changes daily, this moment for the teacher to connect with each student briefly is predictable and consistent. Not only do you build a closer relationship with your students, getting to participate in the question of the day is a fun motivator for kids who struggle with punctuality and, if you refuse to repeat yourself or allow students to repeat their answer, this can be a playful way to reinforce classroom etiquette with chatty groups.

  • Repeating a studio mantra. This can be your studio mission statement or unique to each class. "Dance Studio dancers are smart, kind, and hard-working" is an example of a studio-wide mantra while "We improve our turnout each day in Level 5" is a specific class mantra. Either way, you are helping students focus on both their identity as part of your group and the values that are important to the group.

  • A set révérance. Révérance can quickly become a habit rather than a ritual unless you carefully build mindfulness into it. You can include repeating a mantra as part of the révérance or you can teach students how to focus silently. Ask students to set a goal for themselves for the day as they bow/curtsy and then self-evaluate during the same bow/curtsy at the end of class. Révérance can be a particularly helpful beginning ritual if students are coming from another dance style since it includes a physical cue that we are creating a special ballet space.

While an opening ritual may seem small, the benefits accumulate over time. Creating a welcome ritual for your class helps create a focused, friendly culture of learning for dancers of all ages and skill levels.


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page