Company Class Primer

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Ever wonder how we warm-up for our day here at SF Ballet? It’s all thanks to Company class: a period of one hour and fifteen minutes in the morning dedicated to the Company dancers.

All of us take this class and sometimes the kids from the school attend if they’re in select rehearsals. Company class is designated in the morning because it allows us to focus on things that we need to work on while helping us prepare for rehearsals and performances later in the day.

 

San Francisco Ballet in Company class on stage while on tour in Chicago (2008) Copyright Erik Tomasson.

Class usually starts at 10 am but some dancers dedicate an hour or more just to pre-class warm-up and preparations, pushing back their start times to 9, even 8:30 am. Before every class I like to commit a minimum of  fifteen minutes to half an hour, stretching. Generally this is enough time for me.  However, when my body feels extra sore or a part of my body needs more time to get warm, I’ll show up to the studios an hour early and include more low impact exercises like pilates and floor barre.

 

 

Jennifer Stahl and Sarah Van Patten in company class. Copyright Erik Tomasson

 

The first combination of class generally starts facing the barre. The dancers focus on stretching their backs, feet and hamstrings with portabras, plies, and elongated tendus. The slow music gives the dancers time to emphasize each movement, which allows their muscles to warm-up more thoroughly. With each combination the music and steps progressively become faster and more advanced, making the second portion of class the most exciting. The dancers move the barres to the side of the room and begin combinations in the center.

 

Daniel Deivison in company class (© Erik Tomasson)

 

The first combination in center usually starts with tendus. Unlike the exercises at barre, combinations in the center progress faster. Center combinations are more upbeat and the dancing starts getting more complex and exciting. The dancers apply the balances they worked on at the barre, add pirouettes, and finally jumps. Grande Allegro is the most exciting combination. If you stick around to the end you will be pleased!

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