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Guest fastfeets

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Guest fastfeets

I think I just had the worst class I've ever had. It's not that I was all that terrible...well, no more so than usual, but I'm under a huge amount of stress right now...in-laws visiting in less than 24 hours!!! and a small miscommunication with the hubby just before leaving for class after days of mad, frantic cleaning (his folks have not yet seen the new house, and it's very important to hubby that things be perfect.....it's chaos...). So I go to class despite all this, and despite my hunch I'd be better taking the rest of the week off. Well, I mess up thoroughly at barre, which undermined what little confidence I packed in my dance bag. Centre was even worse. But hey, I stuck it out and tried to find myself somewhere in it all. I am usually quite upbeat in class, but tonight I had absolutely nothing to say, so I stayed very quiet and within myself. Not smiling, just....well, thinking of everything I had yet to get done...as well as issues with my mother's death, her birthday being this week, and my dad being too involved with new girlfriend to talk with me (though I've been there for him always....when he needed to talk...). There's more regarding my family, too...very painful stuff that I'm coping with. It all crashed in on me today, too....I'm a wreck, but needed the escape.


The teacher decided to throw a new little complicated step into a combination...one I'm not terribly familiar with. I didn't exactly do it justice, to be polite. He proceeded to dive into brusque, leaning toward rude corrections towards me. He went so far as to ask me why I seemed to be unable to perform it. Then went on to berate me for my bad attitude and negativity. Now, never have I been negative or shown attitude.....I respect my teachers. The one night I am fragile and on the edge he pushes me over it. I've been over and over it in my head, talked it out with the hubby with as much objectivity as I can offer and cannot figure out why I'd be singled out and yelled at as I was. I'm also not so sure I can get over it easily.


See. things have not been all that well at my current school. Undercurrents and such....and I've had a pervasive sense that I'm tolerated because my son is quite talented. After tonight I'm seriously thinking of leaving the school. (this would take with it the teaching opportunity, too....). I'd walk away now if it weren't for the fact that there are no other schools that offer anything for adults but for NSB (and no pointe, no performance ops...)


Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, I had a terrible headache, and the person who teaches the baby ballet class left her two screaming kids at the school for about 45 minutes while she quickly ran an errand. So the first part of class was done to the tune of a screaming toddler and a 4 yr old taking the teacher's attention away from the paying students he was supposed to be teaching.


I knew I should have stayed home....


Am I crazy in thinking that it should have been recognized that I was not handling the day well and that a good teacher is more than just "tendu, plie"? I mean, would you notice someone who is normally one way if they were quite different another day and take it to mean there was cause for gentility and understanding? Geez, I'm rambling and not making sense....I was yelled at tonight for having a really rough time and being tough on myself, and I'm having a hard time understanding it, and an even harder time forgiving myself for being such a horrible student.


someone pour the wine, please...make it a double....

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Have some more wine, put your feet up!


It sounds like your life is, to put it mildly, rather stressful just now. Sometimes class provides an escape from the stresses and strains of living, other times it makes you feel worse. In my experience I've never been able to predict how dance class will make me feel. But it is not good to miss classes, that's for sure. I gave up going over the summer because I had too much work to do and I ended up unfit and stressed. Now I'm in a similar work situation but I'm dealing with it a lot better by getting out to class whenever I can.


When you are in a bad way, it is hard to see what is positive about a class, but it is probably the best thing to do. Also, give yourself something really really wonderful and pampering to look forward to!


Hope this helps.

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I know what you are going through.


At the end of August I had 3 friends die within the space of a week (2 very close friends - husband and wife - passed away in a car crash). I don't think we ever "get over" this kind of thing. The important thing is to give yourself time to learn to cope with this.


I gave up 1 ballet class and body conditioning temporarily (I will begin again next year), to give myself time to deal with it all, and to recover. I kept my other 3 classes (which are nicely spaced out - Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays).


Just take it easy and be patient with yourself.



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Guest fastfeets

Thanks Kate, Rio. Last week was just terrible overall, and the weekend was oh so much fun. :wink: I'm much better now that it's all done...and things have settled back into something normal. Even classes are going much better this week.


Kate, I'm like you in that I can never predict how class will make me feel. When I'm stressed and think that a good, hard class will de-stress, sometimes it does...but sometimes it makes things so much worse. But missing it entirely is far worse. That not knowing doesn't help at all, and going in and fighting for every balance, and winning, even partially is such a triumph. Would that I could always remember that. Heh.


Rio, I'm so very sorry to hear about your friends. It does take time to heal...a lot of time. I'm still trying to heal from my mother's death. You're absolutely right. Taking care of ourselves is very important, and being patient with ourselves is essential.


I need a reminder of that every now and again.

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Hey, Fastfeets--


I don't know you well, so please forgive me itf what follows does not seem sympathetic. I DO konw how you feel, I've "been there" -- and what I;'m going to say is the result of thinking about myself after a bad class.


I can tell that your circumstances are challenging right now. But, the thing is, ballet is objectively difficult..... It's like driving. If you're distracted, maybe it's better NOT to venture, but do something safe for exercise. There are other forms of exercise that require less attention: e.g. the Nautilus machines -- I'm totally serious -- are kind to you and keep you from hurting yourself through lack of attention, they've been designed to take care of you. So if you are stressed, -- REALLY stressed -- ballet may not be hte best exercise you can get.


In MY ballet class tonight, I could see ver y easily who had "something on their minds" in the pirouette combination -- which it was necessary to begin well out into hte room. Everybody who was preoccupied with "something" began back in the corner and then got stuck, since hte combination backed up----- you had to be looking ahead, thinking (so to speak) pro-actively BEFORE YOU STARTED -- or else you didn't have any room to move......


It is a shame that your teacher chid you roundly -- perhaps he was disapponted with you, perhaps he was trying to get you to pay attention to class, perhaps he though you were acting out -- it's always a good thing when the teacher corrects you, it means they care, it's like your mother telling you to double-knot your shoes rather than trip on your long shoe-laces. If it's humiliating that you should be treated as lacking mastery, well, you ARE showing lack of mastery, and perhaps you should be dealing wih the situation as more of a grown-up.


That is, maybe you should TELL your teacher before class that you are "injured" -- your body is ok, but your mind/spirit is not, and you need to take the class at a rehab level tonight..... Treat it like tendinitis, and let the teacher KNOW you are handicapped, and then simplify things in an intelligent manner....

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On my "off" days, when the stress is getting to me and I'm uncoordinated, I tend to stay near to the back of the room and work quietly, maybe not try to whip out multiple turns or push myself too much. Just work slowly and steadily on finding some sort of "center". But I know there's been days when I get really frustrated and end up whispering a little curse or, worse, CRY in front of everyone :blushing: Last week, a 14 year old was trying to comfort me after class. A girl half my age had better perspective than me!


I totally know what you mean about not being able to predict how your mood will affect class. Sometimes it gets better, sometimes worse. Sometimes class itself can trigger something. Wierdness.


Is your teacher a man? I'm going to be sexist here but....men in general don't seem to have the same type of intuition that women do for picking up on subtle emotional signals. Paul's advice is good. Let him know that you have some stuff going on and you're sorry for acting out. Everyone has some tough things in life and bad days, he should understand.


Glad to hear that this week was better. :)

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I woke up this morning thinking, o I was too harsh on fastfeets.... I don't mean to be mean......


and I certainly know where you're coming from. I went back to class yesterday to see if I could get the instant reversal a teacher had given in an earlier class, and I STILL didn't get it right, glissaded to the left whe n everybody else was going to the right, which is kinda embarrassing.... and complained out loud that if you didn't learn to reverse as a kid, it's too late to learn to do it as a grown-up..... SO I'm pretty ashamed of myself, too. [editing later to say I saw her in class next day, apologiuzed for it, and she waved it off "o that was nothing. I didn't take it personally" with a really sweet smile.]


But if you're grieving, you need to protect yourself. When my mother died, I locked myself out of the house with chicken frying on the stove, I cut myself in the kitchen a lot..... all those things, they go with the torn-up feelings, you have to plan against them..... they're going to be there... and mine lasted way past the acute phase....



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Three things to say about the topic.


First, stress is something we create for ourselves. I know when I’m at work if I’m doing something I think is important, I feel stress because I want to do it well. I mean it is important. But I created that stress. Not all stress is like that of course, but it is something we create for ourselves and can choose either to accept or reject.


Second, concerning “bad” classes. When we are doing something that involves high achievement, we often don’t meet the expectations we set for ourselves and we have bad days. I’ve seen a lot of very talented people come along and quit activities because they were not meeting those expectations. And I’ve seen a lot of untalented people come along, think they were better than they really were, persist like mad, and wind up doing OK for themselves. I admire those people.


Finally, about teachers who shall we say aren’t very nice to their students. I once had a teacher whose shtick was being exceptionally sarcastic and hard on his students. I don’t think he really meant to be malicious. I thought he did it both to reinforce himself as an authority figure, and because he saw a perverse type of humor in what he said. Despite his manor, he really was an excellent teacher, I should say.


He never said much to me, perhaps because I was significantly older than he. One day, however, he kinda slipped up and said something to me that he would normally say to one of the 20 year olds (he loved picking on 20 year old females). I was well onto his act by that time, so I responded with my own quick sarcastic tongue. I don’t remember what I said. It was just something that I thought he would say. I think my response startled him, as the only thing people ever said to him was yes, sorry, or nothing at all. He never spoke an ill word to me after that. Always very civil.


Sometimes you just have to confront bullies.

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Let me say something about male teachers, too, to augment lampwick's observation. Very often, male teachers will pick up on different sorts of cues to come to a very similar conclusion as female teachers as to what's going on with a student. In my experience, many men see physical threats first. The trick then is to know what to do about it. IMO, the teacher who takes an Olympian distance from his students is really depriving himself of a lot of useful teaching tools to get the student to perform at highest function. There are ways of maintaining the teacher/student relationship without reinforcing stress. There can also be the "too-chummy" teacher, and the line to walk is both nice and narrow.


I remember one teacher I had who was suave and yet rather severe, a sort of Sergeant-Major of Coldstream Guards, in that it wasn't what he said, it was the way he said it! We were doing grands jetés en tournant entrelacés across the floor in Men's Class, and I said to myself, "Aw, hell, go for it!" I chasséed, and took off into a great high entrelacé, and the teacher, rather surprised, said, "Oh, oh, OH! Yes, Mel, but don't throw the jeté into a penché...yet!" After that, I became sort of Lance-Corporal instead of just another yardbird! :D


And Gary, you handled the situation with that particular teacher just right. :) A student has to know where he can do that though, with each individual teacher. I'd hate to think of somebody trying that on Anatole Obukhov at the old School of American Ballet! :P

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Guest fastfeets

Paul, I didn't think you were too harsh. Harsh, yes...but it made sense. You said a lot quite bluntly, and some of it I needed to hear. It helps me gain perspective when I'm done with my pity party, in a sense. :) My instructor knows my background, and therefore pushes me greatly (with my blessing, naturally). That particular day I should have listened to instinct and stayed home, but I let my competitiveness get in the way and couldn't get behind, not even a single class worth. I spoke to him after that night and we hashed it all out, laughed over it, even. He said he was quite angry with me that night (well, the words were a tiny bit different), but his explanation why rather shocked me. It wasn't my attitude per se, but that I have a problem believing I'm good at what I do, and he was frustrated that I wasn't believing in myself overall.


lampwick, oh yes, he's a man. He's very into himself, as well. :D I love him dearly and he's a fantastic teacher, but he can be so thick headed sometimes...heh. (i told him he wasn't allowed to be so thick, since he's gay. It's not allowed. I saw it in Will and Grace! I had to move out of the way really fast... ;) )


Gary, my instructor is generally a very nice guy. He's moody, but rarely cruel. I know he's been under some stress, too, lately and he's taking that out on people he normally would not....but I had a long talk with him over a few glasses of wine and enlightened him as to how he's affecting the folks around him. He's also one of these sarcastic, dry wit sorts. I don't think for a second that he's uncaring...just not observant on some things. Still the best teacher I've yet to meet.


And my stress? Well, they flew back home sunday, so I'm merely drained now...but the house is still so fresh and clean! :P


I have noticed one interesting thing about the bad days. I don't have them nearly as often as I used to. I am finally becoming comfortable and even happy with what I see in the mirror every day, and skills I didnt know I had have emerged. So the good days far outnumber the bad....and I've learned to laugh a lot more. (who knew my user name would become a reality instead of a bad joke/contradiction in terms...).


Mel, I'm still a yard flamingo at this particular point...but I'm aiming for lawn gnome! ;)

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Fastfeets, it's really good getting to know you.


Thanks for your generous response, and I'm ALSO glad to hear that you had such a productive conversation with your teacher, and that most of all, you're GETTING somewhere with your dancing.


You may have experienced this, that if you have something to say to somebody else on these boards, you very often have some version of that to say to YOURSELF?


The next morning in class, i had the best class I've had in years -- well, weeks -- applied all my recent corrections to myself before we were through the tendus, got my right shoulder in place, my ribs better aligned over my bad foot, and suddenly I was ready for a new correction...


They won't correct you any more if it's the same correction all the time.


THe new correction was, Sally asked me to come with the first group.... SO I had to process EVERYTHING faster, without watching the good dancers and seeing how they negotiate the tricky bits -- i had to do my own visualizations... But she had seen me do the pirouettes at the barre, I was ready..... (WONDERFUL grand battements combination,

A) two to the front, but the second has to close faster, in plie, with time for a changement..... "e and uh UP e and uh down e and uh UP down change....." then

:):D 2 to the BACK, with the same rhythm, including the changement, then

C) 2 to the side, same rhythm UP closing back, UP front change, then

D) QUICK jump to 4th, an instant pirouette UP closing 4th, grand battement from there to arabesque UP down to fifth, tendu second, soutenu to the other side [on the count where the changement would have been....])


Sorry, I shouldn't try to "sing" combinations in prose..... but it was SUCH fun to do, the attack was so clearly specified, it was a dance in itself, and I was ready to DO it... Somehow, addressing this issue with respect to your case, I was also addressing it with respect to MY OWN case.....

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Guest fastfeets

Paul, it's good to meet you as well. Ordinarily I might have met your words differently, but I feel strongly that I was truly meant to hear them as I did. I'd spoken to a good friend of mine who lives overseas earlier that day and she gave me a hard line response which reminded me of my younger days in dance, when an occurance such as that would have been greeted with strength and grace, and that I was leaning towards bratty whining as it was. I didn't realize how whiny and bratty I'd sounded til I read your initial reply and reread my original post....and wow! I was being a petulant brat! Yeah I'm 34 now...and not one of the pre-pro kids...but I'm approaching this endeavor with every bit as much enthusiasm and optimism as they, and with that, should be treated as such. Which I was. And really, when it came down to it, I responded not as well as I should have. I responded as an adult who momentarily thought I was beyond, or maybe above such words, or even reproach as it were. But the bottom line is, if I want to be back to performing status I have to take those days and do something positive with them....rather than make things worse by wallowing in self pity. It's a hard place to be, but if I want to be there, I have to take the good with the bad.


You were absolutely right to remind me of those things, and I think that it was meant to be said as it was...despite your follow-up post...you said all the right things, and I recieved them as such. It was a great help to me. :thumbsup:


I have every intention of getting one more full performance out of this old body...and if I want to get there, I have to toughen up...it's wonderful to know that while I was venting and looking for support (which I got from every single person who replied to this thread, and I am eternally grateful for that!!), I also got the real deal. I hold in the highest respect a person who speaks truth, despite the stinging it may cause for a moment.


As to hearing your own words echoing back to yourself later...oh yes, I have experienced that! I think it's because when you see someone ask a question you, yourself, have mulled..you can rationalize when in reference to someone else, which in turn makes it clearer to you.


I've just begun teaching beginner adults, and am only starting to learn that on a whole new level. My teacher told me I would learn so much more about my own technique by teaching others, and in just a very short time I'm seeing that develop. It's almost frightening how much I can learn teaching others, and I'm looking forward to more of it.


Let's hope it helps me get those fouettes so I can do the Le Corsaire variation I'm supposed to do in 4 months! ;)

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