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Controlling Teachers: over the top gurus


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Hi, I’ve been lurking a few months but finally decided to register because the positive nature of the discussions here seems to be for real. So thanks to all who have unwittingly helped me realize there are lots of good ballet parents and teachers out there.


That said, I wanted to toss out an observation and collect thoughts. From the previous paragraph, you may have gotten the impression that our family has encountered a few not-so-good parents and teachers out there in our child’s dance education. And that would be an accurate impression. But we’ve switched schools in the last year and have found what seems to be a really good and nurturing team of new instructors. And there seem to be a lot fewer parents living vicariously through their children’s dancing, as well.


One of the “silver linings” I feel like I’ve discovered in this whole odyssey is the realization that teachers who set themselves up as gurus – people who demand total control over a child’s training – may be shortchanging that young dancer’s preparations for a possible professional career. It seems that, the farther along a dancer gets in his or her career, the more they have to be very adaptive to different methods, directors, choreographers, you name it. (and frankly, gurus seem to exist in every walk of life, so a lack of adaptability can cripple you in any career)


What our child has now is a situation where the instruction is predominantly in one method in the lower levels, but from a variety of teachers, none of whom demand total obedience or undercut other teachers’ instructions (something that also happened at the old school). I feel like our child is learning how to give each teacher the different nuances of this method that they want, while still growing in the overall mastery of it, and is becoming a much more flexible and emotionally relaxed dancer as a result.


Has anyone else had this experience, too?

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Guest fille'smom

Our family has moved several times in the last 9 years giving us exposure to 5 different prepro schools. My daughter has danced had Balenchine training, Vagonova training, RAD and Cecchetti (sp?). Each director said that they had to "correct" what the previous director had trained my daughter to do. Each believed that their method of training was the only way to go. One even said that we had wasted our money and time for the last 9 years, saying "she knows nothing!".

Having said all that - we too have landed at a studio that employs a variety of instructors (including pro dancers and retired pros) with a variety of dance backgrounds. They work well together and present what we feel is a great balance of styles. We are hoping that this will lead to just what you describe - a much more flexible and emotionally relaxed dancer.

As for the parents.....I am much happier being a drop off parent who sticks her head in every so often than a hang around the studio mom. (I learned this the hard way.)

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Hello chauffeur, welcome to the Moms and Dads forum here on Ballet Talk! Glad you decided to join our discussions :P


I totally agree with you about "Gurus", and find them potentially very dangerous. Anyone who thinks there is only one road that leads to Rome is living in a fantasy world. :)

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The director and teachers at my daughters school are all former pros, some with notable careers, and were trained in a variety of styles. During the younger years, dancers have no more than two teachers each year. This helps them learn the basic technique, without the confusion of having to adapt to too many teachers' style preferences.


As the dancers get older, they may have up to 5 technique teachers a week, which forces them to learn to adapt to style preferences, as our AD believes that professional dancers need to be able to conform to the style required by a visiting choreographer or new AD, etc.


My daughter has attended summer programs that teach very different and distinct styles: (Kirov-Vaganova, Royal Ballet -RAD done the "Royal" way, Miami and Suzanne Farrell - Balanchine). This has given her a chance to find out what she likes and does not like about each style and which best suits her facility and temperment. It has been a very good and maturing process for her to be able to experience each style, adapt her background to each and then go home and learn to assimilate it all into her dancing, while adapting to her home teachers' preferences.


This is not an easy process! :P But, I think it is a very important one for dancers with pro aspirations to master as they reach their mid-teens.

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Congratulations chauffeur for coming out of the cyber closet and for finding a new place for your daughter to continue her ballet studies unfettered! I can guarantee you that you're not alone in your experiences, even if you don't end up reading a whole bunch of stories from other posters.


fille's mom, it's great to read that you've landed somewhere! I recall your asking about various ballet schools before you were making your move and it's wonderful that your daughter has found a good school in your new area - what a relief! :D


Egos can become very large for a variety of reasons and usually they self destruct at some point, but not always.:P


I do love your post Victoria, especially where you've written:

Anyone who thinks there is only one road that leads to Rome is living in a fantasy world.  :)
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Thanks, all, for so many responses so quickly. There is only one small favor I'd like to request. In my original post, I was very careful not to identify my child's gender and that was on purpose. After leaving the old school, we experienced some very real harrassment by other parents, children and the AD, and we eventually had to break all contact with people still there in order to protect our child from further hurt. I suspect from reading the SI survey that at least one of these people participate here, so I would very much like to avoid providing any information about our child's gender or age that could be used to identify us. My goal in participating here is to stay focused on the positive and the constructive, and anything we can do to avoid contact with the old negative would be greatly appreciated. So, long end of it, please don't assume I have a daughter because I very well may not. Thank you VERY much for understanding! I sincerely hope I haven't offended anyone with this request.

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Forgive me chauffeur - my own life was just getting in my way! And, as they say, one should never assume! In my case it was just runaway verbosity! :P


No offense taken!

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