More thoughts on quitting pointe

It’s fun to say I quit my pointe class, because it sounds all dramatic like I stopped mid-chainé and yelled EFF THIS and tore my tutu off and slammed it down on the studio owner’s desk and stomped out all defiant (and loud, because pointe shoes are loud),
but the whole truth of it is that while I was in the yucky process of admitting that this class wasn’t working for me, the class was totally loosing attendance and dwindling down and about to be cancelled anyway. Which I could totally feel happening around me. In fact I considered not leaving the class at all but just sticking with it until it’s bitter end just so I could feel all virtuous like I hadn’t given up, you know, like I wasn’t one of the ones who flaked, but that would be dumb and not honest.
What is honest:
Earlier this year when I was in a vague goal-making mood, I made a vague goal to work back up to pointe in a couple years, like add classes to my week so that I’d be up to the two to three classes per week they recommend for pointe,
You know, They,
Figured that would probably be a goal for maybe 2016. With a new teacher. Because as much as I love my teacher, his style is to sketch out the general gesture of a thing and then refine it, which works well enough for regular ballet class, but I knew, in the back of my head, in my vague goal-making planning sessions, that I hadn’t enjoyed that approach to pointe and I wanted to try it a different way next time.
But then this pointe class just happened, like bam out of nowhere, and I already had shoes and it was actually a time I could do on a day I could do, and, you know, it’s like when someone hands me a piece of cake, I’m not going to be all like, “Oh, no thanks, this isn’t the exactly perfect cake to fulfill all my super-specific cake needs, I’ll just wait a couple years until The Right Cake comes along, thanks though.”
No, I’m gonna shut up and think ‘Oh what a nice treat! How lucky I am!’ and take the pointe class. I mean cake. This is just a reality of taking ballet as an adult. Pointe for adults is rare, it might never be available again, eat it while you can.
Actually cake is a bad example because the Adult Beginner routinely turns down cake. Unless it’s an especially good looking cake or there are political ramifications to turning it down, I’d rather just not and have a mocha later. Or ice cream. Or a mocha ice cream. But I’m kind of whatever-y about cake. Remember back when you were a kid and all you wanted in life was the giant icing-rose from the corner piece of a big ol’ cheap grocery-store sheet-cake? God, those things loom mythological in my mind.
Some specific things about this pointe class:
1. Regular ballet class is an hour and a half and costs $20. Pointe was just a half hour but cost a whole ‘nother $20. That is a lot, even when you are working. I’m not working. When class starts late and that first plié slides to five past, ten past, fifteen past, more, and suddenly you realize you are paying $40 for a slim hour and a half total, you start to feel like some kind of chump. Or at least I did. I should note here that Mr. Adult Beginner is totally cool with me spending his money on ballet class as long as it makes me happy, but I wasn’t happy I was some kind of chump.
2. This class was started at the request of the students, with the condition that there must always be a specific number students or else the class would have to be cancelled. And everyone swore up and down that the core group would always attend, and anyone else was icing (giant sheet-cake-rose icing). Not me, I made it clear that I couldn’t commit because baby, so don’t count me in. I ended up being in. Last pointe class I took, I was one of two. Two! Down from ten at the first class! Not cool. Not cool for anyone.
Moral is: if you are starting a pointe class for adults, it can’t be drop-in. Make all them bitches pay for like two months up front. As a show of commitment, and to get everyone to actually look at their damn calendars and figure out if they can really be there or not.
3. This is kind of a weird one, but I gotta tell you Gentle Reader, I felt really apprehensive about even telling you about quitting pointe. I dreaded it.
I totally appreciate the advice and encouragement you’ve given while I was in the pointe class, and I appreciate that you understood when I left.
Thanks friend.

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to More thoughts on quitting pointe

  1. Rori roars says:

    Bummed for you that it didn’t work out, but I totally pick up what you’re putting down. I’ve kind of been going through a… well, a THING, with ballet lately. Love the studio I’m in, but realizing that it doesn’t scratch all my itches. I’ve made the choice to cut back there so I can take advantage of cake, I mean, classes offered at other studios. It’s hard to make a decision that, yeah, this isn’t working for me and I need to step back and reconsider. But I’m glad you did it and shared that with us and that we didn’t all jump on you like that time you decided to quit ballet to grow a fetus. ;)

  2. Paulina says:

    As adults we can and must make choices. It is not like being eleven years old and going to ballet class twice a week,because mummy tells you to. We have jobs and/or kids, we have people to care for and responsabilities. Often we cannot afford to spend time and money on a class that does not work for us. A few years ago I thought I should study Turkish. I am a linguist, so learning another language did not seem to be a big thing. I really do not know why, but I hated it from the first lesson. So, after a while, I quit. I am not proud of that, but somehow spending so much time which could have been used for other things seemed wrong.

  3. Barbara says:

    It sounds like you have different classes to choose from where here in Podunk Portland, Oregon evening classes are few. The ONLY one I can get to has 3 dancers including me and if only two of us show class is canceled, I thought you quit because you did not feel like you could keep up with the others and I did not understand that but…now.I get it ….so hard to keep energized when all around you drop out. P.S. I adore your writing style!!!!

    • Oh man, I Hate it when class happens or not depending on my attendance. Talk about letting ballet friends down, ugh.
      Yeah, a big part of the not keeping up was the class style of starting with general gesture and refining down rather than starting small and building up. I think this approach would be great for people Returning to pointe.

  4. Jane Lambert says:

    I am very sorry that you did not get the satisfaction that you had expected from the pointe class and that the other students drifted away too. I do hope that you and the other students are not discouraged. There is a lot more to ballet than pointe and there is a lot more to dance than ballet. There are many reasons why we study ballet as adults. For me it is as much about the friendships I make outside the studio as the technique I learn in class. Finally, US$20 (£12.40) does seem a bit steep. At Huddersfield University and KNT Danceworks in Manchester an hour’s class with barre, port de bras, turns, jumps and various other exercises costs £5 (US$8.06) and at Northern Ballet in Leeds which has excellent studios, top teachers and a pianist a similar class costs £6.50 (US$10.48). I should be interested to learn what other readers around the world pay.

    • Katy says:

      KNT is something truly special, both atmosphere, types of class and price!

    • Wide range of price for ballet class here in LA, I’ve seen prices all the way from $11 to $20, the average is $17 for ninety minutes.
      Just to put that into my own personal context, babysitters in LA cost $15 per hour, and just to put *that* in context, back when I was a teenaged baby sitter I charged $3 per hour. $3! It’s a wonder those parents ever came home!

      • abc says:

        Here in Austria, classes mostly cost 15-20 € (19-25 USD), rarely 10 and 25€ depending on whether you pay for just one or the next 10 classes…
        By the way, does anyone know any good classes in London for advanced beginners/intermediate?

        • Jane Lambert says:

          There are lots of classes in London. I have already mentioned Paul Lewis’s at the Royal Ballet School on Wednesdays. You should also check Pineapple, Danceworks and Urdang. If you want to sign up for a series of classes try English National Ballet and Rambert,

  5. d1a2n3e4 says:

    That is so too bad about the pointe class not working out. Where I teach there are many university students /high school students, and they usually move away when they are finished with their studies. So I have “build-up” the dancers, have a few lovely pointe-groups, sometimes even enough for pas de deux lessons, and then they leave. Oh, well. So these things are like that.
    I hope you do find that the new class (if I understand correctly, that is the situation?) is better suited to your needs. :)

    Jane Lambert, do you mean a drop-in class? Most drop-ins where I spend my time (Germany and Austria) cost upwards of €10 ($12.70?)- most more towards €15 ($19) for 90 minutes. If one signs up (signs a contract) with a ballet school, then the classes are usually cheaper – more like €7-€8 /90 min; totally dependent on where you are, etc.

    • Jane Lambert says:

      Thanks for that information about fees in Germany and Austria. All the classes I mentioned are “drop in” or “pay as you go” including those with Northern Ballet Academy which is linked to Northern Ballet, one of our top companies. I believe English National Ballet School require students to sign up for a term but I can’t remember the fee. I think Paul Kelly’s classes at the Royal Ballet School is £10 (US$16.20 or €12.70) for 90 minutes but then that’s London and it is the Royal Ballet School. I wrote a little piece about Mr Kelly’s classes in my own blog

  6. Katy says:

    Don’t worry about us! If it’s not working, it’s not working and you write a blog post about it and move on.

    Sometime classes just don’t give you the vibe you need to carry on, and that goes extra if you spend your days herding a small child.

  7. No fear! When I first started, we had twin girls in my class who were about 17, and they had been dancing since they were 4. Talk about intimidating. They were picture-perfect ballerinas, graceful and beautiful and extremely talented. They made the rest of us feel like walruses, clumsily schlumping across the floor. But they never took class in pointe shoes. I later came to find out that it was because they just didn’t like it. They had been there, done that, and decided that they could dance better and be more expressive if they weren’t worried about doing everything on pointe, and to hell with anyone who thought they should be doing otherwise! And there’s a lot to agree with there. If you don’t feel like it’s working for you, don’t sweat it! Do the dancing that makes you happy. Any other kind just isn’t worth it. We all love you just the same. :)

  8. QMichelle says:

    Being an adult sucks, not just an adult dancer, because that DOES suck, but in general because we put all this pressure on ourselves to Not Fail. At anything. The fact you have simply and rightly decided that something you are doing isn’t filling your requirements and needs has somehow turned into you Giving Up. That’s adult pressure. I do it to myself all the time. I can’t do pirouettes – FAIL. I can’t do grand jetes in full split – FAIL. I can’t do 180 degree side splits – FAIL. Of course I can’t do those things because I’m new to dance, yet in my head I’m a big, fat failure. I just wish we didn’t put so much pressure upon ourselves.

    • I think that as an adult people get better and better at flipping the switch between Must Get It Right, and Fuck It. Kind of like like lucid dreaming; when I can control that switch I feel like I’m tapping into the secrets of the universe or something.

  9. I recently started an adult beginner class in Germany and it is 44 euros per month and I signed a 6 month contract. The class should be 60 minutes but I am starting to feel like I am not getting the whole 60 minutes. We always start late and we don’t seem to make up the time. Also, it feels like the teacher takes a while to pick a track for the next combination. Oh well, I’ll see where I am after 6 months.

  10. kaija24 says:

    I appreciate your willingness to write about your tumultuous affair with pointe. I can empathise completely. Adult pointe IS a fickle thing…no classes, no classes at the right level, not enough people, too many people at different levels, not the right instructional approach, the right instructional approach but the wrong audience…so many factors have to align. I’m away from pointe for now as well. Like you, I say ‘maybe’ in future with the right instructor/correct level. Hell, I’d be happy working on the basics/strengthening drills with the keen eye of an instructor to give corrections and avoid bad habits, but no such class is available to me right now. I can do some stuff on my own, but like you, I’m not willing to pay without feeling like I’m getting my money’s worth or at least not feeling demoralised. But there are plenty of other things that keep me dancing and plenty of other non-dance learning opportunities to draw my energy and attention :)

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