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Ballet Pedagogy

The Art of Teaching

Rory Foster

Publication Year: 2010

There are many different methods for teaching classical ballet--Bournonville, Vaganova, Cecchetti, and Royal Academy of Dancing being the most widely known. All of these methods are effective tools for presenting the technique and art of ballet. Knowing how to use these tools successfully requires more than being a devotee of the technique; it also requires the mastering of various skills.

In Ballet Pedagogy, Rory Foster aims to share his extensive knowledge of how to teach rather than focus exclusively on what to teach. He argues that it is not enough for a ballet teacher to be well trained in technique, but that he or she must also know how to utilize pedagogical skills.

Designed as both a manual for beginning teachers as well as a reference for experienced instructors, Ballet Pedagogy is appropriate for either followers of a single methodology or for those who have adopted a more eclectic approach to technique. Foster believes that effective teaching skills--proper demonstration, counting, correcting, musicality, anatomical approach, etc.--do not come automatically just because one has trained as a dancer.

In this book, Foster--an expert in multiple ballet methods--covers all areas involving dance, from history to injury prevention, from anatomy and kinesiology to vocabulary and music. He even offers pragmatic advice on the business of starting a dance school. The result is an essential addition to every dance teacher's library.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

Globalization has opened borders, innovations, thoughts, and creativity. This inspirational and fluid exchange of information has also occurred in our art form of dance, and it is very inspiring that Rory Foster has devoted the time and patience to comprehensively write about the art of classical ballet. Rory’s background is rich and diverse. ...

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pp. xiv-xviii

Throughout my performing and teaching career, i have watched many well- trained dancers, including seasoned professional performers, teach their first ballet class or series of classes. Many of them did not know with any certainty how to construct and sequence the barre and center floor exercises correctly for the stated age range and level of advancement, ...

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pp. xix-xx

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who encouraged me and gave me assistance during the realization of this book. I wish to thank all of my teachers for imparting a wealth of knowledge to me throughout my career and American Ballet Theatre for giving me the opportunity to work in my art alongside many of our greatest dancers and choreographers. ...

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pp. 1-5

I have been fortunate in my career to have had excellent training, studying under many world-renowned teachers such as David Howard, Vincenzo Celli (Cecchetti Method), Valentina Pereyaslavec and Vera Volkova (Vaganova), Benjamin Harkarvy, Harold Christiansen, Maria Fey, and many teachers from the Sadler’s Wells/royal Ballet who passed down the combined Franco-Russian ...

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1. Danse d’École: A Historical Synopsis of Ballet Pedagogy

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pp. 6-19

Most ballet careers are short-lived. and when dancers retire, they quickly become unknown to newer generations of aspiring ballet dancers. ask most students today if they know anything about—or have even heard of— Sergei Diaghilev, Ninette de Valois, Margot Fonteyn, Antony Tudor, Igor Youskevitch, Lucia Chase, or Erik Bruhn, and the answer will usually be no. ...

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2.The Ballet Class

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pp. 20-53

When it comes to the technical and artistic execution of a step, dancers are not reticent about voicing an opinion as to the correct way to do it. They can be quite opinionated, even myopic, and at times critical of other schools that vary in approach from their own tradition of training. dancers, universally, are passionately loyal to their ballet pedigree, ...

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3. Anatomy for the Dancer

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pp. 54-78

A classroom combination or piece of choreography can be danced in many ways by altering the elements that create quality of movement: time, space, energy, phrasing, style, focus, aesthetics, etc. one teacher may request a step to be executed in a particular way, while another wants the same step danced differently. ...

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4. Music for Dance

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pp. 79-89

Mastering the use of musical accompaniment can be the single most difficult aspect of teaching for most pedagogy students and young teachers. ...

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5. The Teaching and Learning Process

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pp. 90-95

Dance schools usually divide students into four categories based on age: primary or predance (below the age of 6), preadolescent (ages 6–10), early adolescent (ages 11–15), and late adolescent through adult (ages 16 and up). Primary and preadolescent levels make up a lower school or division, and the adolescent and adult levels constitute an upper division. ...

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6. Teaching Your Class

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pp. 96-120

Historically, many if not most ballet teachers have believed that students can and should learn ballet by rote—learning through mechanical, unthinking repetition. Classical ballet positions and movements are repeated over and over with little or no mindfulness of why a particular exercise is done and with little or no understanding of anatomy and the physics of movement. ...

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7. Dancer Health and Injuries

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pp. 121-129

Ballet has long been called a plastic art because the dancer-artist communicates the creative ideas of the choreographer as a moving sculpture. There is nothing natural about classical ballet and the various positions and movements that are required of the dancer. ...

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8. Establishing Your Own School

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pp. 130-135

Many private studio teachers prefer to work for an employer rather than cope with all of the responsibilities of owning their own business. But for entrepreneurial minded teachers, this chapter is devoted to opening and operating a dance school enterprise. ...

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9. A Final Word

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pp. 136-138

After teaching for many years, i looked back on my training, along with the years it took to become a professional dancer, and the success I had in accomplishing my goals and having the career I had planned. It struck me that there are intrinsic characteristics or qualities in our training both in technique and performance that go far beyond merely training the body and mind to dance. ...

Suggested Reading

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pp. 139-140


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pp. 141-150

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About the Author

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Rory Foster is professor emeritus of DePaul University in Chicago, where he taught for twenty-five years and held the rank of full professor and dean of the Barat Conservatory of dance. He received his training in Chicago, New York, and London with renowned teachers from the Russian and Italian schools. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048284
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813034591
Print-ISBN-10: 0813034590

Page Count: 176
Illustrations: 26 b&w photos, 4 diagrams
Publication Year: 2010