Class today was very crowded: about 30 students in a room more appropriate for 20. One of the late arrivals was a woman I hadn't seen in class before. She ended up on the other side of a portable barre from me, sharing that side with one of the better regulars.
At first she seemed to not know which way to face, which struck me as odd. In this class, as with most classes I've taken elsewhere, a barre exercise starts with the left hand on the barre, and then is repeated with the right hand on the barre. She also didn't seem to have picked up the instructions for the exercise, so I suggested that she and the student she was sharing that side of the barre switch so the newcomer would be sandwiched between two regulars regardless of which way she faced. They readily agreed. I told her this class is much closer to Advanced Beginner than the advertised Beginner II, so not to worry if it was a bit more difficult than she expected. She spoke briefly with our instructor, who assured her that she was fine to do what she could, and if she still felt unable to keep up that she could get the class credited back to her account.
Even with experienced students to follow, though, she still seemed to be having trouble. And by "trouble" I mean not knowing what basic movements were. After the next exercise she explained that this was her second ballet class ever. Using what I hoped was a understanding voice, I quietly confided to her that when I'd first come into this class I'd had two years of ballet, and I'd felt totally lost at first. Taking the hint, she smiled and gathered her things, thanking the instructor on her way out for being understanding.
Our instructor later confided that at first she thought this student looked familiar but couldn't place her, and only later recognized her as one of her students from the Wednesday evening Beginner I class. This might also explain why she didn't know which way to face, as the Wednesday evening barre is done facing the barre rather than parallel to it.
I feel sorry for this student. She went out on a cold Saturday morning (it was 17F/-8C when I got up this morning) and fought her way through traffic to come to class, only to leave after maybe 10 minutes. But frankly, there was no way she was going to keep up. Shortly after this student left we did a degage combination that I found challenging due to its speed, and then we did it again even faster. Everyone struggled with that. And centre work was no easier. Probably smarter to leave once she realized she was in over her head and get the class refunded than to struggle and just end up frustrated.
I hope she sticks with the Wednesday evening class. It is possible to start from scratch as an adult and work your way up, but it takes time and perserverence.