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Reluctant advice


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I was wondering if anyone else has experienced a ballet teacher that is reluctant to give advice? I seek advice and guidance from my daughter's current ballet teacher and she always wavers. I don't feel like she gives any direction. I wish she would just say "yes" do this or "no" that isn't a good idea. I seek professional advice and find myself more puzzled after speaking with this teacher. It is particularly disheartening because my daughter very much wants this woman's approval. Any advice or commisery? :dry:

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Balletmartyr, let me start by telling you what a chuckle I've gotten from your cyber name. :lol:


Next, I'd like to extend a hail and hearty welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancer's and urge you to check out Ballet Alert!'s main web pages as well as the other Ballet Talk, too. B)


Now, on to the "lack of advice" issue. I am sure there are a number who might be able to commiserate with you... :unsure::dry: However, it might help to know a bit more about your daughter - such as her age and how long she has been taking ballet... and what kind of program she attends and what this particular teacher's own background is - in order to try to be of any real help.


As evening descends, there are sure to be some ballet teachers on the board who will probably ask you similar questions in order to try to give you some worth while comments. So, if you don't mind sharing a bit more about the situation, it really will make it much easier for these teachers to respond to your questions in a helpful way. :flowers:

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My daughter is 13. She has taken ballet for 7 years. Her teacher has a master's degree in dance specializing in choreography-has been teaching for about 18 years. She danced with small companies. The current dance program is 4.5 hours of pointe with 5 hours of technique. She is also part of a partnering group(8 girls/boys). She also has had training in jazz, tap, and lyrical. She has attended summer intensives for 2 years away and 2 years locally. She was accepted into every program she auditioned for this year except the coveted SAB. Still no advice forthcominng from teacher as to where to spend our summer dollars...and where to take things for her future. :dry:

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Is her home training Vaganova based, classical, Balanchine? What programs has she previously attended? What programs is she strongly considering? If you can share a bit more, I am sure that our faculty members can guide you a bit in regards to which SIs might be good options, based upon her current level and home training.


As for your home teacher's lack of openness with you, it could be any number of things. Sometimes, I think that teachers do not really know anything about programs you are considering (unless they have students who have attended) and so they are reluctant to venture an opinion. Sometimes they may not feel free to offer their thougths, because the school director does not share their views on a given program and they might suffer reprisals for recommending or not recommending programs. Sometimes, I think that they are reluctant to offer direct advice because they just don't want to be the one who makes the decision for you and therefore takes the responsibility for the choice. :dry:


Then, of course, there are always those teachers who are just not great communicators and don't do a great job of articulating their thoughts, understanding what you are asking, knowing how to appropriately respond, etc. :flowers:


The good news is that there are a number of teachers who are moderators and posters here. You will get some good advice from them, although no one here is going to tell you absolutely DO NOT go there or DO go there. But, they will be able to help you sort through your options and make good decisions. Take a venture over to the SI forum and look up the programs you are considering, do a search on each SI, using the Search function and you will get a pretty good sense of the pros and cons of most of the programs you are considering.


Best of luck in your decision. It is quite mind-boggling! All of us parents have been there! B)

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My guess is that this teacher is being asked, by you, to reach beyond her area of expertise and she is reluctant to either admit it, or do the work/research to expand her knowledge...


That said, I know that the parents of my students view me as either:

A. Very informative and accessible




B. One who talks in riddles and seems vagues


The reason for the discrepency depends so much on my 'history' with that dancer and parent.


Some parents come with questions, listen and absorb, others give my advice the same weight as the advice they get from the internet (not this site :flowers: ), other novice parents, and any other source they can find B)


Some parents become very aggressive in seeking assurance or 'their' ambitions outweigh their child's. What do you do with a talented student who wants to dance, not doesn't want to DANCE?


Some parents believe that we can map out a training program that will guarantee 'success' and simply can't handle the intangibles and variables involved.


When I get a parent who 'gets it', is willing to listen and work with us, I am very careful to let them know how much I appreciate the their efforts :dry:


We had a thread on the Teachers board about what a teacher can do to provide guidance. I didn't respond because I'm not sure how to to explain to a teacher how to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. Those of us that come from performing backgrounds have connections and knowledge that are the result of our careers. I know that I spend a great deal of time researching SIs and companies to keep up on what is current. I travel and visit schools and watch classes. I invest my time and energy in this as this is my passion


My advice is, when your daughter's teacher is being vague, to reduce the question further: i.e. if she says she doesn't know, does she know WHO to ask? Maybe she is expecting you to 'read between the lines'. If that is the case, 'reflect' the question back to her: i.e. "Are you saying there is a problem with this SI?"

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Cabriole, that is such good, specific advice! Communication is a two-way street, so both parents and teachers have to work at it. Thanks for that very good reminder. :dry: I really love your suggestions for how to respond to "close-ended answers". It is a good idea to review those ideas before going in to talk to the teacher, to try to avert those dead end answers that can stop a conversation in its tracks. :flowers:

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Thanks for the advice. I truly try to calculate every conversation I have with this teacher. I have gone so far as to write an mini-script prior to phone calls and I rehearse what I say face to face. I don't know why, but I am very intimidated. This is all very important because my daughter truly feels this teacher is awesome. :dry:

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Welcome and thank you Balletmartyr (love the name!) for a very good thread. How to communicate with your dd's teachers. :flowers:

Thank you Cabriole for your post. It's interesting to see it from the instructors point of view. Some times parents don't even know what questions to ask, or more likely ask questions that are too vague, and other times we're not ready for the answers. What I have found, especially now that dd is 14, is that it is much better if she asks her own questions. The teachers take much more time and care with their answers when they see that it is the student themselves that are taking an active role in their own future. :dry:

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You always have such great advice and wisdom and I can only wish that when my daughter was taking class in Chicago, that she would have found you wherever you are.....

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Cabriole had some great points about opening up communication. I just wanted to add one thing that I've seen from being stuck in the studio on either side of a 45 minute commute.


I've seen parents that when they don't get the answer that they want respond to the teacher by saying well so and so said at this age they should be doing this. It gets to where the teacher is so tired of being second guessed by the parent's other experts that they don't really answer the questions. I really don't blame them.


What some parents want is validation of what they think is right, not an answer. This can cause teachers to limit communication back to the parents or at very least be wary in their answers. The problem is that there are parents who do want an honest answer and are willing to listen even if it is not something they want to hear.


Just an observation and a humble opinion.

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Good stuff from everyone. I like the idea to have my daughter do the communication. She started last night at class. I told her that taking this responsibility should help with any issues with the teacher. In my profession I constantly deal with children and their parents, so I find it hard when communication doesn't come full circle. Teachers, be it academic or artistic, need to know the impact that they have on the students they impart knowledge. It is a very delicate balance-some have mastered and many are still learning. Thanks for all the advice the more experience ballet parents/teachers have shared! :blushing:

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