Things Russian Ballet Teachers Say

Hello everyone, first of all sorry about the lengthy absence I’ve been having some internet problems! You can stop sobbing in front of the screen and hitting ‘refresh’ because I am back with a new post!

Okay, so my ballet teachers are Russian, and their English varies from a few words to being completely fluent. Regardless, they all come out with a few gems of misguided English, or general bluntness, from time to time that make me really laugh to myself. I have decided to compile some of my favourite quotes for your amusement (I have also provided helpful translations).

Things Russian ballet teachers say

  • “Put your leg in the backside!” (“Close your leg at the back”)
  • “Do not break your toys in here” (“Don’t break your toes”/ “Don’t put your weight on your back foot so the front of your toes touch the ground, just rest the tip of your big toe on the floor”)
  • “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ENGLISH?!” (“Why don’t you understand my very heavily accented English?”)
  • “Tors! Tors!” (“Torso”/ “Use your upper body!”)
  • “Why are your body going in the back side you cannot stay like this you must stay in the front side.” (“Don’t lean your weight back, it makes it hard to balance. Bring your weight forwards.”)
  • “Why are you lying on the barre?!” (“Don’t lean forward or hang on to the barre”)
  • “Higher… higher… higher…!” (When your extensions are anything below 160 degrees)
  • “You have to straight your knees” (“You have to straighten your knees”)
  • “Think that there is a butterfly on your toys and you don’t want him to fly away” (by “toys” she meant “toes” and by “toes” she meant “fingers” but this was actually a very helpful analogy)
  • “Speak to your audience with hands- ‘here, this is for you, and this is for you’, then they will not look at legs.”
  • “Do again, this horrible”
  • “JUMP!!” (Hey it works, you gain an extra three inches when your teacher is shouting at you)
  • “You must stretch everything before it hurts.” (“You must stretch everything until it hurts”)
  • “Your legs are like overcooked sausages” (If we don’t straighten them)
  • “Squeeze your breakfast!” (6pm)
  • “Why are you doing like this?” (Every day)
  • “Your hands are like shovels, you think they like to see this on the stage?” (Does an exaggerated impression of person’s hands)
  • “Roll over back!” (“Don’t let your supporting foot roll inwards”)
  • “Slide your steps, then bring!” (Tendus- “Go through the foot on the way out, then bring straight back in”)
  • “You have lost some weight, it looks good, you have shape. Before you look like square.” (This is my all-time favourite)

Hope that gave you a giggle- if you have similar ones, add them in the comments below!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. “It’s arabesque, not ala-besque,” when telling a student that arabesque is directly behind, not slightly sideways, like a la seconde. (Not from a Russian teacher though, sorry.
    “Squeeze that behind! I want to see a smile back there!” (Also, non-Russian, they all aren’t.)
    “Lick the floor with your toes! Lick, lick, lick, lick lick!” While explaining to a student that during tendus the foot is pressed against the floor as it slides out – you know what I mean. Oh, and said very enthusiatically while running around in a manic frenzy.
    “You should be able to balance a teacup on that ankle! Tea cup feet!” When explaining foot in attitude position.

    I’m sure there’s more I can’t think of right now…


    1. Haha, these are great. The things ballet teachers come out with are so funny, but sometimes their strange analogies are just what you need to understand a position or movement.


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