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Since I started taking dance notes after ballet class I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my memory of what I need to work on and what I want to focus on in the future.
When you physically write something down, it just sticks better in your brain. If you are looking to start taking ballet notes then keep reading! I’m going to share my favorite tips on the best way to write ballet class notations.
What is ballet class notation?
Ballet class notation is exactly how it sounds. Some dancers follow an exact method of ballet notations, but many have their own personal way of taking notes.
It can be done in a way where movement is written on paper similar to music sheets. Each symbol has its own meaning. If you want to learn more about the history of dance notation, check out this in-depth post from Britannica.
Many dancers don’t write out choreography anymore preferring just to record themselves instead but it could be an option for some people. If you are writing out the exact movements in class I suggest creating a system and sticking with it.
That way it will become second nature, and easy to replicate. For example, you could do something like this:
Demi plie (1st)
4x, engage turnout
That way if you want to practice later you know exactly what you did in class! For me, I prefer to record myself and watch it back later. Find what works best for you and start building up the habit of recording yourself or writing out different combinations.
What other types of ballet notes can you write?
Well, I don’t write out the choreography, I do like to take other notes from ballet class. It can take some time to write out, but I really have made a big improvement not only with my technique but also with my mindset.
Here are some ideas of things you can write about first thing after class.
Class corrections/Technical Ballet Notes
This is one of my favorite things to write down. As an adult ballet beginner, it can be really overwhelming learning all the little adjustments that you need to make during each movement.
Taking the time to write down any corrections you received in class (or anything the teacher said to other students) will help cement them in your mind more.
Every month I try to have a new goal or “theme” that I’m trying to accomplish. I don’t write anything complicated but I do like to take time to think about what I want to achieve. It could be something like learning a new step or even something broader like improved turnout.
Whatever you want to work on, you should write it down in your ballet notes. There is power in your words and if you believe you can get there, then you will. 😊
New steps/positions you don’t know
There are so many steps in ballet that it can be very overwhelming in the beginning. Everything is foreign and it can be hard to tell your left from your right.
Writing anything new out will help you visualize it better. You can even include stick figure drawings or print out a photo of the movement. I have a digital planner that I use, so I tend to insert a video from youtube showing the movement.
This one is HUGE! If you take the time to document any progress that you had after class you will start to see that you are getting better! Often as adults, we fall into the comparison game, and when we do this it makes it hard to see how far we have come.
Getting into the habit of writing down the things you have accomplished in your ballet notes will help show you that you are improving in every class. Next time a step feels easier or you didn’t fall out of a pirouette, write it down!
It’s so rewarding to look back at the real progress you are making.
If you are doing any cross-training or PBT classes (which I highly recommend you do) then you may want to write down some of the exercises. It is easy to forget exactly what you did in class but if you write it down you will be able to refer to it later.
Try to use simple terminology or the exact name of the exercise so you can Google it later if you need to.
Inspirational quotes or images
This isn’t necessary but it can be nice to include. Whenever you feel down you can look at your vision board and be reminded of your “Why”.
Having a visual reminder of what you are working towards can be very inspiring for dancers when you aren’t motivated to practice. It takes a little bit of time to put something together, so I made a free template for you to use to help speed up the process of creating a vision board!
All you have to do is switch out the images and quotes until you create something that inspires you. You can download it straight to your email below.
Experiences and emotions attached to them
This writing exercise is more of a mindset, emotional release practice. Sometimes it can be nice to just journal what you felt in class. Maybe you want to write out the feeling of a port a bra or that class was overwhelming.
Or maybe you felt so much joy in practicing a new variation from Giselle! Whatever it is, it can be very therapeutic to get it out on paper how you felt during class.
If you aren’t writing out affirmations yet then you need to! This has been a game-changer with how I look at myself as a dancer. Just being able to say I am a dancer used to be hard.
We think that we have to be good at something to share it with people but that isn’t true. By adding affirmations into my daily routine, I am starting to view myself in a different light. It can be as easy as “I am graceful” or “I am made to dance”. Just start saying something every day until you believe it then move on to the next mindset hurdle.
So you learned everything that you can take notes on after dance class but now let’s talk about where to write it! I personally use a digital planner on my Ipad with the apple pencil. I just uploaded my digital planner to my GoodNotes app and use it from there. It’s really convenient to use because you get to still write physically but also you can insert YouTube links or images easily from the internet. This is the planner that I created and use after every class! You can grab it below.
Another option is to write it in an actual notebook! I absolutely love this ballet journal from Claudia Dean Collections or if you want to go a cheaper more customizable route then I would grab a bullet journal.
Bullet journals are also great because you can customize them so much! Go on Pinterest and you will find so many ideas of what to include.
I hope you found this blog post helpful! Please share it with your ballet friends so they can learn how to take awesome ballet class notes as well!
Happy dancing! 🩰