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DANCE-141 - Beginning Ballet - Shelby Curtis

Course:Beginning Ballet
Professor:Shelby Curtis
  • InPerson
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


You Belong Here!


My name is Shelby Curtis and it is with great enthusiasm that I invite you to explore the art form of ballet in DA141!  In this course, students will learn and refine fundamental ballet techniques that promote strength, stability, flexibility, balance, and proper alignment.  The practice of classical ballet offers stress relief and the opportunity to apply ballet training to improve your performance in other dance genres, sports, and everyday life.  I understand that you may be stepping out of your comfort zone by taking this course, and I am here to support you.  I am approachable and love hearing from students, so please feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, clarification, or ideas!

My purpose for teaching is to learn, build community, and offer a safe space for students to study and share their dance knowledge.  I have been teaching at the College of the Canyons for 20 years, and my dance education includes a BFA in dance from the California Institute of the Arts and an MS in Dance Kinesiology from CSUN. My early dance training was rigorous in classical ballet and modern dance. I teach ballet, yoga, and dance appreciation at College of the Canyons and am passionate about dance pedagogy and integrating dance arts in K-12 education.

Statement of Support:

I support all students and realize some students face unique challenges and opportunities. I value diversity and am committed to providing equitable opportunities to grow as individuals and as a community. I welcome all students regardless of their immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and background. I am an ally and can provide resources both on-campus and off-campus to students who may be: LGBTQI+, veterans, undocumented or mixed status, and more. Feel free to talk with me about these resources.

Course Description

This course surveys the fundamentals of ballet technique through the practice of ballet exercises and combinations. Attention is given to developing strength and flexibility and applying improved strength and flexibility to the practice of ballet barre and center floor work. This course is designed as an introductory course, however, students with ballet experience will be accommodated with the option to practice intermediate-level exercises. 

What to Expect in this Course

During this course, students will participate in laboratory-style technique classes for three hours a week.  In each class, students will learn and perform ballet exercises and movement combinations that are designed to improve range of motion, build muscular strength, enhance flexibility, and refine body alignment.  

Types of Assessments

Grading Policy:

This course uses a grading contract. A grading contract is a system of grades that are based primarily on your efforts or work completed. Your final course letter grade will be the result of your participation and completion of assessment and self-reflection sessions, rather than a subjective evaluation of your final assignments as compared to the assignment rubrics (as typical grades are usually assigned).

Here are some reasons I find grading contracts valuable:

  • Offers students the opportunity to be experimental and exploratory in their dance training and encourages risk-taking.
  • Values the time and effort students decide to commit to the class.
  • Provides students with a clear and concrete understanding of your grade at all times throughout the semester.
  • Does not penalize or reward students for the level of knowledge and experience they have upon entering the class.  
  • Acknowledges students who are investing time, energy, and effort into dance training.
  • Functions as a model for forming professional relationships and professional communication practices.
  • Grading process emphasizes offering students meaningful feedback.

Sample Grading Scale:

Final Grade


Missed Self-Reflections

Missed Feedback Opportunities


2 or fewer




3 or fewer




4 or fewer




5 or fewer




6 or more



During the course, there are five opportunities for feedback and two opportunities for self-reflection.  All assessments and self-reflections will include feedback through rubrics or written narratives so that you can monitor your ballet training progress.  

Textbook Information

This course does not require a textbook. An interactive ballet terms glossary, readings, and video/lecture content are provided in Canvas.  Videos of exercises and combinations practiced during class are also posted in Canvas so that students can review material outside of class.

Other Relevant Course Information

Course Supplies:

The following supplies will be provided and available for use during each class session to accommodate various stretching sequences:

  • Resistance bands
  • Yoga blocks, straps, bolsters, and mats

You may want to bring the following supplies for your own comfort:

  • Hand towel (to cover yoga block since this is a shared supply)
  • Warm clothing as the classroom temperature can be unpredictable
  • Water 

There is a filtered water station directly outside of the classroom to refill water bottles.  Restrooms are also located directly outside of the classroom.

There are no dress code requirements for this course.  I encourage students to wear clothing that is comfortable and allows for full range of motion.  Dancers are welcome to wear traditional attire, including ballet tights, leotards, and skirts, or workout attire, such as sweatpants, shorts, leggings, t-shirts, and tank tops.  Street shoes are not permitted in the dance studio so students should be prepared to participate in socks or ballet shoes.

Ballet Shoes:


If students would like to purchase ballet shoes, they are offered in canvas and leather materials and can be purchased in many shades and colors.  Traditionally, ballet shoes and tights are designed to match the dancer's skin tone, but students are welcome and encouraged to purchase any color that they prefer.  Ballet shoes, tights, leotards, and other dance supplies can be purchased at our local dance store:


Location 23300 Cinema Dr #101, Valencia, CA 91355

Phone (661) 253-0300 Email 

Students can also purchase dance shoes and supplies at online vendors, but I usually suggest purchasing these items in person if you have never worn them before. 

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 05/22/2024 Sub#: 644