In the coming season, the students of the National Ballet Academy will be introduced to two new teaching methods. From the start of the new school year, the youngest pupils will have a weekly class in ‘Progressing Ballet Technique’. And the Bachelor’s students will work under the guidance of a psychologist on strengthening their mental skills, using the ‘ACT’ method.
Progressing Ballet Technique
Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) was devised by an Australian, Marie Walton-Mahon, in close collaboration with physiotherapists. The method, in which students work with things like different-sized balls and ‘dynabands’ (elastics), helps young ballet pupils train their muscle memory optimally for classical ballet, without the body having to bear weight. Marieke van der Heijden, who has already introduced the PBT method in her classes for pre-NBA children in recent years, says, “through this method, you train young pupils’ proprioceptors; the little nerve endings that determine how you make a movement. So if you do certain movements using a ball, for example, you learn to do them in a way that means you can’t actually do them incorrectly any more when standing up straight without equipment”. She takes the example of a retiré, where the foot of the working leg is pulled up to the knee of the standing leg. “On a small ball, you can only do that movement if you turn out well, otherwise you roll off the ball”.
In the coming season, Marieke van der Heijden will give classes in the PBT method every Friday to the new NBA1 pupils.
In the coming season, the Bachelor’s students will be introduced to ACT, which stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This is a new form of behavioural therapy that can help students to deal better with any obstacles, make space for emotions, reflect more on what is most valuable to them and invest in it, build up assurance and self-confidence, and strengthen their personal resilience. A psychologist guides the students during the six sessions that introduce them to this method.