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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Opinion- Teens taking Adult class


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How do you guys feel about younger dancers (like the pre-professional students) taking the adult classes? I don't mean like teens who are just starting ballet (they tend to be more focused). I mean girls/guys who are training to be professionals.


I am in my early 20s and am in the regional company at my studio. I mostly take the company classes which are in the afternoons on weekends. Some "adults" also take these classes. They might be a tad difficult for them but they seem to enjoy it. I also take an intermediate adult class on Monday evenings. The teacher (who used to dance with ABT) is very fun and so the adults love taking his class.


Well, now some of the younger dancers (15-17) are going to start taking that class. The problem is that, because these girls are taking 1 or 2 classes before this one, they are tired. And then they get lazy and a bit hyper.


Last night, for example, there were 14 students total (7 "adults", 7 "non-adults"). One of the "non-adults" kept muttering that she was tired (it was her third class). Halfway through center, she said "Come on, come on, when is class going to end?" Then she told some of the other girls that her friend was waiting for her at her house so they could go to the mall.


I seriously wanted to tell her to be more respectful of the other dancers in class. She might be tired because it's her 2nd or 3rd class, but for the adults, they paid ~$15 to take class and they have the right to get a full class. Right? If she's tired, she can tell the teacher and leave. She wanted the teacher to give a simple grand allegro step (just tombe, pas de bouree, saut de chat) so it would take less time. Sometimes the teacher will listen to her, sometimes he'll be more diplomatic.


When I take the adult class, I stay in the back (after all, it's like I'm a "visitor") and I don't complain or whine (but I don't do that in my classes either). I also don't complain when the teacher has to go over the step a couple more times or when one of the students asks to "mark" the step.


It's just frustrating...

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I think the answer to this is very simple. I don't mind teens taking adult classes. I don't mind more advanced people taking my simpler classes. What I do mind, however, is people being rude or lazy in class, or not accepting that the class is not primarily for them, but for the "regulars" of that level - whether the bad-behaving student is a teen or an adult, doesn't matter.


If this is a recurring situation, could you (as a company member or a more experienced student, maybe?) talk to the teacher about this? Ask him to silence these problematic kids? Or tell them not to come if they are too tired - is it really necessary for them to take three classes a day?

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Thanks for your post GretchenStar. I dance at Joffrey Ballet in New York and the past three weeks we have been on break so I set off to find a temporary replacement school in the meantime. One of the studios I chose, Peridance, offered an advanced beginner adult class that was said to be comperable to the one I was taking at Joffrey. However, the ratio of the class was something like what you discussed, half adult beginners and half pre-professional teens and young adults. The latter were less focused and seemed to be only "showing off" to the rest of the class. 90% of the time they simply created their own variation of the floor combinations. As someone who is used to small classes of even ability, I was downright frustrated watching these kids while I was trying to stay focused.


I guess my general opinion on the subject is that I am an advocate of the fact that classes should be categorized by ability levels instead of age.

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I am totally with Jaana here. The behavior you describe from the teens is really not acceptable. Are they permitted to behave that way in their regular classes?! Yikes!


Where I go, during the summer the "pre-pro" or serious teens come to the adult classes when they are not at summer intensives. I love it when they are in the classes. The classes are different when they are there--usually they are a bit tougher and more crowded (don't like that part), but I find it all quite interesting.


The difference at my place (I am guessing) is that the teachers are very strict with these kids, and as a result the type of behavior you describe is absolutely unimaginable. These kids, for example, are required to address their teachers and Ms/Mr, to thank their teachers individually at the end of class, to ask permission if they need to arrive late or leave early, and generally to behave themselves. They are by no means without personality or spark, but they are lovely to be around.


I am not sure what the right solution is, though I'd probably go for either ignoring them if possible or speaking with the AD/teacher about the situation.

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Great posts, all. Gretchen, what I find appalling is not so much the teen's behavior, ghastly as it was, but the teacher's! :D I can't believe he permitted that in his class, and even considered giving the grand allegro that she demanded. It really is his class to run, and students like you shouldn't be in the position of having to reprimand a misbehaving kid.


I accept as an adult student that my classes will become catch-alls for other levels and ages, and generally don't mind it. I find it inspiring to be in class with professionals and pre-pros, although sometimes I find myself distracted, watching them rather than working on my own, and many, issues. :wink: I do resent, though, when they become the entire focus of the class, since there are so few decent ballet classes for adults as it is. And we have to move such mountains in our work/family schedules to get to them!

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I take adult open classes at Broadway Dance Center and Steps every day. I could never imagine anyone mouthing off to someone like David Howard or Willy Bermann. Good grief, the pre pro kids, the professionals, the adult recreational students, and the occasional child all behave with the utmost respect and work very hard. True, outbursts occasionally occur. But as a rule, as an ongoing situation, that sort of behavior should be stopped immediately. It's the teachers responsibility to demand proper decorum in class. Serious ballet students should know better. The pre pro kids I see always behave perfectly and work extremely hard. They mean business.


There's an element of competitiveness in larger classes where you have to be aggressive about even getting a turn to go across the floor, but that's New York.


In the smaller town schools I grew up in, I did see some of the problems you're describing. I think that the kids get real serious once they're exposed to the level of competition out there. It's easy to be a prima donna when you think you're a "star". When there's ten other kids in class with perfect extension, you learn real fast how focused you need to be to make it.

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I do resent, though, when they become the entire focus of the class, since there are so few decent ballet classes for adults as it is. And we have to move such mountains in our work/family schedules to get to them!

Scoop, that's one of my concerns (aside from the discipline stuff). The teacher will usually ask a student to show a combination (not all of the combinations, but maybe like someone show the adage at the barre, someone show the jump step, etc). When it's the adult class, he lets the adults show the steps, which I think is neat, because (even if they aren't going to be pro's) they are improving with each class. Yesterday, for instance, it was all the non-adults showing the steps. And when the teacher was explaining something to the adults about a particular move, the non-adults were chit-chatting among themselves.


It's great to hear everyone else's thoughts on this. I would like to say that this is only an isolated incident, but unfortunately it's not. Last season was the worst with discipline (I've been there 8 years), but it happened less in the adult class because the younger dancers were not taking those classes as much. It's too complicated to get into here, but stuff like not doing the step like it's given, leaving class and not coming back for maybe 10 minutes(?), talking (way too much talking), stuff like that. The teachers tell them to behave better, etc and there was once or twice where a student was asked to sit down/leave class.


It's frustrating for me being in their "regular classes" where they behave like this too. That's part of the reason why I like this adult class, because it's a relaxed atmosphere but it's not all out chaos. The reason why some of them are taking so many classes a day is because they are lazy and don't come to ballet every day. So to meet their minimum class req. (7/week), they have to take more than one a day.


Lampwick- it's sort of funny that you should mention the prima donna thing. In fact, these girls have been to summer programs (Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet, San Francisco, etc), and some of them are absolutely adored by the teachers there. As for the teachers, well, let's just say that the studio is regarded very highly by ABT. The director of our school has gone to New York to teach the Studio Company several times.


I wonder if any of the adult students in that class feel the same way I do or if they will talk to the director or teacher about it. I hope they will... and I know it's not just me. There's another pre-pro. student (19 years old) who was taking the class yesterday too and although it was her 3rd class as well, she didn't whine and complain. It's nice to see not all kids are brats (and it wasn't that long ago since I was a kid, but I definitnely was not a brat :D )

Edited by GretchenStar
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If you're going to go to an adult class, you need to act like an adult --- regardless of whether the adult classes are easier or harder than the teen classes. I've never seen any problem with teenagers in adult classes, as long as they act the part. I agree, complaining all the time like a child is not good behavior for an adult class.

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