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Why do some teachers ignore the real level of the class?


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I have recently come to think of why some teachers (and quite many of them actually) tend to put too high level on their classes even though it's obvious that nobody gets the excercise right they still continue with their fast tendues. Why do some teachers just teach you lots of steps and long combinations without any corrections? If I want a class with lots of difficult combinations without assistance I could go out and buy a ballet video an practice by myself in front of the mirror at home! :P

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Short answer: they aren't good teachers.


Long answer: They may think their combinations are basic enough and that you just have to do it a lot to improve. Some teachers have absolutely no idea how to train beginners--they usually prefer to train more advanced dancers, and are usually not too good at that either, though it is more difficult to see in that case. They tend to be good dancers themselves but have forgotten what it's like to not know anything at all (or very little) about ballet and they don't think about things that come naturally to them that beginners have to work on. They are often novice teachers, but sometimes they have dance teaching degrees or have been (or are currently) professional dancers.

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Guest sissonne

I had exactly the opposite problem. One of our teachers would teach below the level of the class despite some 20 students being regulars who attended all class levels and only 3-5 having never had a class. Each new session, she'd start with the history of ballet, what is 1st position, 2nd positon, the breakdown of a plie, etc, etc, etc. The rest of us would become quite frustrated and could quote her "speech" verbatim, we'd heard it so often. Too much talk, not enough time spent on the exercises themselves. The rest of our instructors teach at or slightly above the level of the class, which made for a great challenge and very enjoyable class. I remember when I returned to my classes after some 9 years or so, floundering desperately in the INTRODUCTORY class because of this, but picked it up in due time. I think my determination to not look like a complete idiot kept me motivated!! :D


I do understand your frustration. Either way, it's nice to be somewhere in a happy medium between not having a clue and having too much of a clue in class!:P

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Guest karenfixe



Great answer, but what do you do next? I stopped taking classes from one teacher that reads a magazine during class. She's SO apathetic that I feel tired after plies! Her pointe classes are miserable b/c we just hold and hold and hold and hold... you get the idea. There are no corrections offered either.


The other teacher, that I've stopped taking classes with these days focuses on her 11-yr old protege that has professional written all over her. Somehow the other 20 kids/teens/adult (me) are there for her protege's corp. It sucks sometimes and I try to stay focused on the positive, but I'm 35, so I can only imagine how the kids feel.


The best teacher I've got these days was a professional dancer, but started later than the typical teenage years. So I think he remembers how hard it is to learn some combinations. He's always positive and gives great visuals and analogies.


So, does anyone have any ideas as to what to do about these teachers? The only recourse I have right now is to tell them through my checkbook. :D

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Guest sissonne


Does your school have a suggestion box or someone who could be notified? I'm sure that your check is equally valuable as the 11 year old protege's, so you should voice your displeasure. Our academy has a suggestion box. I know many students from the open classes suggested "more dance less talk" with reference to the one instructor.


Definitely say something, even if it's in an anonymous letter to someone in charge. You're paying for your classes and should get as much out of them as the others.


Good luck to you!

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Guest karenfixe



The teacher that fawns all over her protege is the one that owns the school! It's the best school out here in the sticks, so I have to put up with it. I'm sure they see that I don't come for the other classes anymore and instead I'm cross-training with weights and aerobics. Funny thing is, my dancing is getting even better with only attending once a week! I like the idea of a suggestion box because I know of other students that see how much attention that 11 yr old gets. The only problem is that it would be pretty obvious if I suggest it and then put a comment in it a week later. ;)

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Without knowing either the teacher or the student, I think it is difficult to assign blame to either the teacher or the student.


I’ve had many a teacher who gives a combination that one could say is perhaps too difficult in that the overwhelming majority can’t do it for one reason or another. Personally, I don’t think that is a bad practice. Usually some people can get it and I am sure they appreciate the higher level of difficulty. And for those of us who are klutzes, I do think it is good to be challenged. I think it is the only way you get better over the long run. I know when I run into a combination like that, I remember it and work on it on my own. I may never do the combination well, but I get a good feeling whenever I can do it in some recognizable fashion.


As to corrections, that is a complicated subject. I’ve noticed that in the classes I attend, in the largest classes (presumably also the most popular) the corrections tend to be for the class as a whole rather than directed to specific individuals and the classes move along (not much talk). Class time is fixed, so the more time spent explaining the less time is available for doing. And for most people it is only by doing that we really learn to dance.

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The really weird thing about this specific teacher is that she is widely known in Sweden for her "fantastic" teaching technique. She also teaches at a professional school. Boy, was it a dissapointment when I signed up for over 10 classes with her! All I could think of was "what technique?" She just sits there in her chair and yells from time to time. Her critisism seems to be randomized as her parises. I'm just so confused! There is one girl in class who I think has the perfect dancer's body, flexible and beautiful arches, but unfortunately she sickles all the time. It makes me so sad that the teacher doesn't tell her not to sickle and explain to her what sickle is.


I can understand if teachers don't correct such "hopeless" cases like me flat-feeted, cow-legged (I don't know if it is the right term in english) and really unflexible by nature. But why waste even such a natural talent even though she could never become a professional?


After a few classes with no corrections it really does more harm than good. I took classes with two teachers parallel one of them really wonderful whom I have been taking classes for a while. After a couple of classes without corrections with the other teacher I found out with the wonderful teacher that my Grand Battements which I thought were really high were done by lifting my hip, which I had never done before. Because at some point you get so sick and tired of just doing those excersises with no feedback whatsoever that you try to "improve" yourself.


I guess I'm just frustrated and confused and needed to get some of it out of my system!:P


But fortunately I still have this wonderful teacher! :P Unfortunately she doesn't give so many classes :(

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Guest sissonne


Perhaps you should anonymously place a suggestion box somewhere where it would be seen.....;) Perhaps the owner would think it a good idea and leave it...then others would follow with their suggestions.


I had a feeling your instructor may also be the owner for some reason. What a dilema....I'd be so very frustrated myself!:mad:

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Guest Tiny Feet

I think when your options are limited it is always frustrating when you are not getting what you paid for.


From my experince with adult ballet classes in my area, the level of the class stated in the brochure is never a true reflection of the actual class being taught. Especially in areas where adult classes are limited, I know advance students having to take beginner classes and beginner students having to take more advance classes in order to achieve an ideal of 3 to 4 classes a week. So having that said, I think it is often times very difficult for the teachers to find a level right for everyone.


On the other hand, the lack of corrections thing is a big no-no in my book. When you are dealing with the adult beginner, some coming to class already with injury or like me just plain old (heh), the simplest thing like a grand plie can spell trouble in a hurry if done incorrectly.


I would encourage you to try to find other options. I have to drive 45 minutes away twice a week but I think it is worth it if you are getting something out of it. I think of it as, hey more time for me to re-run the combinations in my head on the drive home (although probably not the safest thing to do).:)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest ducklingdance

my teacher had done it before. he neglected the slower learners and sped up his class and up the level just because he got a new batch of good dancers. the older batch of us got very unhappy and felt very neglected(we had been following this teacher since 13 and we are the pioneer batch.) we don't have this probelm before this dancers came. we're very disappointed.


fortunately, after we voiced out our concerns, situation improved. i supposed one has to voice it out instead of feeling bitter alone in the back. let the teacher know. if it doesn't helps, maybe changing a teacher will.

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What, approximately, would you expect the curriculum to be in a class labled "Adult Basic II" (which is preceded by Basic I and succeeded by Elementary)? I have the feeling I'm the victim of level creep too, but my experience is too limited to know what to expect.


And, more philosophically, should a class be taught at the level stated in the catalogue or at the level appropriate to a majority of the attendees? We have the usual problem with not enough classes, so level distinctions get blurred. Do I have a right to a class taught at MY level, even if most of the students are more experienced? I'll add that the teacher is extremely agreeable to my substituting a more basic exercise for the one she's set (for example, I will practice balancing while the rest of the class is attempting pirouettes at the barre).

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My perspective as a teacher (though I will admit that not all the faculty where I teach share this point of view;) ).


I definitely teach the level as advertised. I often get advanced/pros in the class which can panic the 'regulars', but I clearly state the class 'belongs' to the stated level. Rather than teaching the class 'up', I give/demonstrate the patterns for the stated class and then quietly give the acceptable options for the higher dancers. The higher dancers must do the first attempt at the stated level and then may proceed, on the repetitions, to the higher levels. Done this way, the 'regulars' are not intimidated, and they have the added advantage of seeing the patterns (at least in the center) done very well at their level and how the pattern will progress technically.

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Guest karenfixe

Cabriole, thanks for stating how you teach your classes. I've seen this in some of the better schools I've attended.


Treefrog - unless you attend a professional school with graded levels, there will always be a mix of students in a class. Sometimes they take a lower level class because of time constraints as well... so don't be intimidated. They're not there to do that to you on purpose! :D I've found that watching the more advanced students do the same combination I do on the first go round is both inspiring and educational.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had about the worst experience with a ballet teacher today!!

I decided to try a class at a new school so I would be able to take class much closer to home so I can take more than one class a week.... bad decision!

The teacher (a man) didn't bother to ask my name or tell me his..

The exercises at the bar were way too fast and complicated, nobody in the class could keep up with, well, tendu's too fast don't give my feet any exercise, because I didn't even get time to point my feet properly...

He gave no comment, instructions or corrections whatsoever!! Oh, and when he demonstrated the exercises he wasn't even showing correct technique (twisting and turning his hips etc.) Then we started doing stuff in the center and across the floor, well, all combinations were way too long for anybody too remember, and the music was way too fast for anybody to get it right... I swear this man must teach with his eyes closed!

Well, I'm definitely not going to take class with this man again...

just have to figure out where I can get a decent class now :-(

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