at Bonita's School of Ballet
Classical ballet is exciting, demanding, and inspiring. It is vital to have professional classical ballet teachers, equipped with internationally recognized training, who impart their knowledge and love of dance to future generations. Teachers at Bonita's are trained in Cechetti, Royal Academy of Dance, Vaganova (Russian), and American Ballet Theatre syllabi. These methods use a sequence of grades or levels, carefully measured as to degree of difficulty and physical development. Each level is developmentally appropriate and builds upon what has been taught before, much the same as an academic grade level. Our class offerings have been designed so as to provide a complete program form the beginning of Creative Ballet through the advanced level. Classes are divided by level, based on teacher recommendations. In keeping with the tradition of classical ballet, each class level will be assigned a specific color and style of leotard. It is important that a child master each level before they proceed to the next so that they fully understand the movement and the quality that it utilizes.
The advancement of a dancer happens through correct repetition of steps and development of physical strength until both mental and physical comprehension has been reached. Every student is different and reaches this comprehension at different times. It is better for the student to wait until his or her body has fully matured and understands the movement at one level before moving on to a more complicated level.
Our instructors are trained to evaluate the students and understand each child’s physical development. If adjustments need to be made, instructors will advise the parents of a different placement.
Creative Ballet (Ages 3&4)
Our youngest dancers begin to explore the art form as creative Movement, a fun-filled and story-based educational journey into the world of dance. The children are introduced to concepts of basic movement and music. Exercises for strength and coordination as well as classical ballet positions are introduced, and our focus is on establishing developmental skills necessary to execute dance steps. While using imagery and imagination, the students are encouraged to closely follow and imitate the instructor as they learn many common ballet steps and movements. Dancers learn the importance of musicality and group movement as they participate in activities using dolls, visuals, props and a fun variety of music. *Four year olds who have not had any previous dance training should be placed in a 3-4 year old class so that they learn the basic movements and dance class structure.
Pre-Primary Level (Ages 4-5)
Building upon the skills learned in Creative Ballet, dancers in the pre-primary level continue to explore the art form through creative educational journey into the world of dance. The children are introduced to more advanced concepts of basic movement and a basic understanding of simple musicality. New ballet positions are introduced, and fun ways to build muscles necessary for future dance endeavors. Through use of developmentally appropriate imagery and imagination, the students are encouraged to begin exploring the muscles in their own bodies as they learn new ballet steps and movements. *Four year olds who have not had any previous dance training should be placed in a Creative Ballet (3-4 year old class) so that they learn the basic movements and dance class structure.
Primary Level (Ages 5-6)
This class is uniquely designed for this age, keeping in mind the special characteristics that come with it: wonderful imaginations and boundless energy. This class continues to utilize story, song, and role-playing to help each child develop physically, mentally, and socially. Floor exercises are incorporated to help condition the muscles and facilitate proper alignment and placement. It is also at this level that students are introduced to basic exercises at the ballet barre and begin to understand its importance.
Level 1 (Ages 6-7)
This class provides an excellent foundation for students wanting to pursue the study of classical ballet. Exercises at the ballet barre are increased in number and difficulty to enhance flexibility, coordination, strength, and muscle tone. By building on the foundations learned in Primary and Children's classes, the students are introduced to new dance movements and various styles of music. Exercises with a definite rhythm further develop musicality and creativity. Gentle discipline and adherence to proper classroom etiquette promote self-discipline and self-confidence. Repetition of movements and combinations increases auditory and visual memory.
Level 2 (Ages 7-8)
As is developmentally appropriate, young dancers will be encouraged to perfect their posture, body alignment, and basic ballet technique in this class. More vocabulary and classical dance movement will be introduced. Exercises at the ballet barre are increased in number and difficulty to enhance flexibility, coordination, strength, and muscle tone. By building on the foundations learned in previous levels, dancers will explore balance, learn many kinds of jumps, and begin to combine many different dance movements together.
Level 3 (Ages 8-9)
By this level, students are expected to have mastered the basic principles of ballet, including the positions of the feet and arms as well as a basic understanding of posture and turn-out. All of the vocabulary and movements of the previous levels will be incorporated into this class along with the introduction of new exercises that are developmentally appropriate. Class work begins at the ballet barre where students are guided through a series of exercises designed to strengthen the leg muscles and train the torso and upper body to maintain ballet placement. Simple conditioning exercises are begun to ensure the muscle strength and suppleness necessary in years to come. Center combinations are kept simple and appropriate. Center work incorporates technique, coordination, and awareness of space and rhythm. Flexibility is a priority and students are encouraged to stretch at home.
Level 4 (Ages 9-10)
More serious training begins at this level. Because the student will be introduced to more complicated and demanding exercises, it is suggested that the student enroll in at least two ballet classes per week to provide sufficient class time to ensure adequately strengthened muscles. More emphasis is placed on proper turn-out, lengthening of the muscles, and correct body placement. Students continue barre work, which becomes more demanding. The challenge of working on demi-pointe is incorporated into barre work and time is spent balancing on one leg. Center combinations/become more complex as more attention is given to placement and body positions. Dancers begin to learn different variations of steps including waltzes, jumps, and turns.
Level 5 (Ages 10-11)
Students at this level are expected to be enrolled in a minimum of two ballet classes per week. Focus is placed on dancers' placement and proper turn-out are emphasized in classes as students begin training for pointe work. Barre work becomes more demanding as new steps are introduced. Center combinations become more complex as basic pirouettes and intermediate jumps are added. This increases strength, balance, and stamina. Dancers are also asked to enroll in one pre-pointe class each week.
Level 6/7 (Ages 11 & up)
Students at this level are expected to be enrolled in a minimum of two ballet classes per week. Focus is placed on dancers' placement and proper turn-out are emphasized in classes as students continue seriously training for pointe work. Barre work becomes more demanding as longer exercises and variations of previously learned steps are introduced. Dancers begin to learn more about their own bodies and how to use them to improve their dance technique and abilities. Center combinations become more complex as more attention is given to jumps and turns. More complex pirouettes, adagio, and intermediate jumps are added to the center combinations, continuing to increase strength, balance, and stamina. Dancers are also expected to enroll in at least one beginning pointe class each week, and many female dancers will begin their pointe training at this level.
Pointe: It is very important to be cautious and conservative about the age at which a female student begins training on pointe. Usually between the age of 11 or 12, a student that has been training for at least 4 years is physically strong enough and technically advanced enough to begin pointe work. It can be detrimental to start training on pointe too early in a dancer’s career. At too early a stage, a dancer may not have a full understanding of proper body alignment. She may not have developed toe, foot, ankle, leg, and/or abdominal strength and may practice bad habits that can lead to injury or chronic conditions such as tendinitis. There is no need to start pointe training too early as an accomplished dancer will easily be able to go on pointe with little effort and progress at a rapid pace. Many students who begin training too early become discouraged with the difficulty of proper execution which they did not expect. It is much wiser to wait until the proper time when a dancer is physically ready to take on the work level and can achieve the results that she hopes for. Certain requirements must be met to be considered for Pointe. To be considered for pointe a student must have taken at least one year of pre-pointe and 2 ballet technique classes a week for a full dance year prior to going on pointe. Pre-pointe is a strengthening class that is open to students in Level 5 and older. Teachers must always approve a student before they go on pointe.
*Students may spend more than one year in each level.
Intermediate Level (Ages 13 & Up - By Placement Only)
Three ballet classes per week plus a minimum of two pointe classes are required in order to maintain progression. For the more serious student, a fourth class per week is strongly encouraged. This level continues to strengthen the student physically and mentally by increasing the length and complexity of classroom exercises. Exercises on demi-pointe are stressed, as well as pirouettes, adagio and intermediate-advanced jumps. Center combinations are intensified in order to increase strength, balance, and stamina. Female students should have at least one year of pointe training, which continues at this level. If the student misses multiple classes or is returning from an injury, for her safety she may be asked not to wear her pointe shoes for a few weeks. This is important so that she can work to restrengthen technique. Even if the student does not have pointe shoes, a pointe class is required to continue strengthening the feet and core for pointe work.
Pre-Advanced Level (Ages 14 & up - By Placement Only)
The pre-advanced level builds upon the foundation that was developed in the intermediate level. Three - four ballet classes per week are required in order for a pre-advanced dancer to work fully towards the level of becoming an advanced dancer. This level is for the serious dancer and is designed to provide each student with a focused, challenging curriculum so as to assist them in reaching their personal goals. Combinations of steps become more complicated, requiring increased coordination and attention to detail. Musicality, quality of movement and more advanced techniques are explored. Pointe work is included in technique class at this level, and ladies should have had at least two years of pointe training.
Advanced Level (Ages 15 & up - By Placement Only)
The advanced level focuses on refining and polishing technique acquired thus far, further exploring musicality, quality of movement, and artistic expression. Three to four ballet classes per week are required in order for a dancer to be considered a true advanced level student. Students at this level show great commitment to the demanding art form of classical ballet. Complex barre exercises with little to no demonstration from the teacher are followed by complex center exercises which incorporate the full range of ballet steps. Students are expected to have mastered proper placement and turn-out and can now use the strong technique they have gained from previous years of training to explore the world of contemporary ballet alongside classical ballet. Pointe is incorporated into the ballet class for ladies, and the technique from demi-pointe should flow seamlessly to pointe work.