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Ballet Talk for Dancers

What is Proper Etiquette?


Redstorm

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DD has a question and is too young to ask herself. Last week, during a class, the teacher was showing new center work he wanted done. Some of the students were following along with the teacher. My daughter has always been taught to watch the teacher first, then, when the teacher instructs the students to do it together, then she does the work. She memorizes the moves without moving until the teacher instructs them to begin.

This is a new school we are trying out.

There are some older girls in the class and they haven't been rude to my daugher, in fact they ignore her. Except for this one class where one of the girls made a comment to the rest of the girls that my daughter needed some sugar so she would move her #$$. One of the other girls asked who she was speaking about and the reply from a 3rd girl was...the young one.

My daughter did what she has done in the past with this type of situation...she ignored them and did what she has been taught before.

She did however, ask me to find out what is customary in other classes.

Should she mimick the teacher while they are trying to explain a certain move or should she listen and watch the teacher until he/she is done and then do the moves?

DD is concerned that when she goes away to her first SI that she will be doing something wrong and doesn't want to be made fun of.

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Redstorm,

 

As a teacher, I don't care whether they stand there or follow along, as long as they are paying attention, and then exectute the step correctly.

 

Everyone learns differently:

Audio

Visual

Kinetic- or some combination thereof.

 

It sounds like the other girls are testing her limits-sort of how sharks bump their prey before going in for the kill!! :)

 

Her best bet is to stick to her guns, continue to ignore the ignorant, and continue doing things the way she feels comfortable. :)

 

If the teacher doesn't like something, it is their responsibility to inform the student about what they expect.

 

My guess is that your daughter is able to move in a way that is causing the little green monster to emerge! :green:

 

Time for some skin-thickening!!! :(

 

Good luck!

Clara :)

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Thanks Clara...that is what I told my daughter too. I told her to think how a 17 year old feels about a 12 year old in the same class doing the same technique work. :):) and doing it correctly! :(

As far as what a teacher wants/expects...should my daughter ask the teacher after or before class what they prefer? Just to be on the safe side?

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Redstorm, from your description it sounds to me as if the other students are "marking" the steps that the teacher is showing.

 

In my opinion it always makes perfect sense to ask the teacher if there is confusion or a question about anything in the ballet class and shouldn't be something to hesitate about.

 

(However, I believe there is a problem with a program that has a 12 year old, no matter how great, in the same classes with 17 year olds who are "on track" - but I'm sure you've heard this all before! :) )

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Well, the nice thing about going to the SI, is she will be thrown in with girls from a lot of different schools -- and so this is exactly what she does NOT need to worry about on the first day. In fact, it will give her a chance to see, what are some norms, what are some other ways, without the pettiness of this situation you are describing. The main thing is to always be focused, always be working. Certainly she doesn't need to do what the others are doing just for appearances. But as one said above, to be marking out the moves, etc. - it doesn't sound unusual what the other girls are doing. In open classes I will see my daughter continue to do that in place as others are crossing the floor etc. - nothing showy or big, just trying to drum it into the mind and muscles fast (or however they do it!). At those h igher levels, somehow (this is from a civilian's point of view) they are expected to zoom across the floor doing the most complicated combinations that it seems the teacher has just barely talked them through with a couple of flicks of the wrists, nods and a hop! I'm sure, as the teacher above said - they have to capture it all in whatever way works!

 

What IS not acceptable practice, is all those petty comments - gotta ignore it and stick with the positive spirit. Good luck.

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Victoria Leigh

Unless the teacher states that they want it one way or the other, I agree with Clara. Students process information differently, and some need to mark it with the teacher and others can learn it by watching. The main thing is that they should not be moving or marking it while the teacher is trying to explain something about it or make corrections.

 

I do not limit my students, however, if I see that they are only learning the steps, and not paying attention to the whole picture (ie, the port de bras and head), then I will ask them to watch first, mark afterwards. My students do not mark the barre work at all, and in the center they watch the first time and then I have them mark it so that I can tell that they have it. Marking port de bras is never acceptable, as that should always be done fully. (Keep in mind that I do not teach anything lower than upper Intermediate and Advanced levels.)

 

It's interesting that this question came up, as I had to take a group of younger and less advanced students one day last week when we had a teacher out sick. I noticed that they were marking the barre with me. I thought about it, as I had not had that happen in a long time with my own students. I didn't correct it, however, I did notice that they were not aware of the total movement and only concerned with learning the combination. I would prefer to have the arms and head coordinated with the movement and learned at the same time, not as something that gets added on later.

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Thank you Ms. Leigh. That is exactly what my daughter was taught. Watch first and then her teacher has the entire class go through it a couple of times as a whole, answering any questions there may be. Then she has them go either in groups or individually.

At barre, there is no need to mark at all.

BW: I know that she is very young to be in this class. This is a school that was recommended to me by this board as a very good school. The teachers are professional dancers who still perform around the world.

My daughter had worked with one of the teachers before and it was at his recommendation that she be in this class. The classes are listed as Ballet II/III.

With so little to choose from in the Bay Area (which is a surprise considering how large an area we are in) I am at a loss on how to get her the best training. I don't want to jump from studio to studio.

Hopefully we will have a better grip on things after she returns from her SI.

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Redstorm, one can only do one's best in regard to trying to find the best school. Believe me it's not so easy even in the big East coast metro areas, either.

 

Also, I didn't mean to sound as though I was jumping down your throat about the age disparity. Maybe the 17 year old is not really where she should be, etc. And as for that snippy, rude, behavior, let's hope it recedes into the shadows quickly. I'm sure things will straighten out.

 

The summer is almost here and I'm sure your daughter will have a wonderful time at her SI. :yes:

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BW, no offense taken at all. Just my frustration at all of this!

I am looking forward to 4 weeks off!!!! :jump::yes:

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Guest fille'smom

Before my dd hit the advanced level she did more watching the instructor to get the step. It was how she learned best at the time. At the advanced level she usually "marks" the combination with the teacher. Sometimes the teacher will instruct the students to stop marking and just watch if the students don't seem to be getting the combination the way he would like. Sometimes he doesn't demonstrate the steps at all - just quickly lists them in words that I cannot begin to understand and off they go. Hopefully your instructor will want your child to use the method that works best for her.

 

As for the comments from the older students. Not unusual unfortunately. At our studio the 2 oldest girls don't really acknowledge the 2 younger girls in the class. Not rude - just indifferent. There is also a very talented 13 year old that takes class our the studio just one day a week to supplement her schedule. The 2 oldest girls have been heard saying extremely mean things about the girl behind her back and have given her the stoneface, cold shoulder if she tries to talk to them. Jealousy I suppose. Uncalled for and mean but unfortunately common, I think, in the ballet world. Lucky for me, my daughter has never let this kind of behavior bother her. She is there to learn to dance. Period. She realizes that in the big picture these girls have no effect on her future. She keeps her eye on the goal. I think that if your daughter is to be with the much older girls she will just have to learn to ignore them and focus on her goal.

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As for the comments from the older students. Not unusual unfortunately.

Sadly, this is true. When Kait was around 13, some of the older dancers were pretty unkind to her. She didn't tell me about it, though, until she was around 18, and one of these dancers returned to the studio to help with a performance. By then, of course, it was old news, but I felt badly that I hadn't known about it at the time.

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My daughter has very thick skin. In fact, I think I get more upset by the nastiness then she does. When I ask how she feels about it, she says it is no big deal. She just ignores them. I am pretty impressed with her composure at such a young age. :yes:

The only time she gets upset after class is not after some particularly rude remark or the girls pointedly ignoring her, it is when she feels she wasn't at 150%. Her way of showing the girls it doesn't matter to her is by doing exceptionally well in a class. When she has an off day, sometimes she feels as if she "lost" that battle. After a pep talk in the car, she is usually fine by the time she gets home.

I have warned her that no matter where she ends up, she will always have something like this to deal with, even if it isn't in ballet. As a former ice skater, dd is used to competition within a small group. Skating is cut-throat and I have seen best friends turn against each other over something as small as one landing a jump before the other, or moving up a level sooner than the other. Sad but true.

The saddest part though is many times it isn't the child, but the parents who teach and encourage the jealousy. Remarks made outside of class to a child regarding another child can start the cycle. Comparing children, especially ones own to another student can be damaging and can create a huge amount of anger and resentment that can only be expressed by being mean and nasty. The kids are usually mad or hurt by their parents remarks but can't express it to them, so they focus on the child whom the parent was referring to. I have seen it first hand at our regular studio and it is too bad. If the parents, and in our particular case, grandparent, would stay out of it, the girls could be good friends.

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In dd previous studio the teachers demonstrated the combinations they wanted at the barre while the students watched and then the students repeated it. DD was there several years and this was always the way it was done, at least with the beginning students. One day a substitute teacher came in for one technique class and when she saw the kids doing it this way she actually flipped out on them, stopped the class and proceeded to give them an angered lecture on how when SHE was a student......blah, blah, blah. Apparently she didn't want them just watching her but wanted them to do it full out WITH her right from the beginning. She was so angry and for some reason it was even more directed toward my dd since she said to her angrily "and YOU didn't even do it right!" The kids were sniffling and holding back tears and my dd burst into tears when she got in the car. She said "Mommy, if she wanted us to do it that way all she had to do was tell us. We would have gladly done it her way." This lady's anger was out of line - these were 9 year olds.

 

Fortunately, DD has had awesome teachers who are loving and nurturing and, well, dd thinks they walk on water. yes.gif%27

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With so little to choose from in the Bay Area (which is a surprise considering how large an area we are in) I am at a loss on how to get her the best training. I don't want to jump from studio to studio.

not a parent, but i would like to say that berkeley ballet theater is a very good school producing top dancers. (moderators, please delete if innapropriate).

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We had the opposite problem come up. Again this was a mixed class with older and younger students. The older girls were getting very casual about class at one point and were lounging on the barre during demonstrations. This looked quite cool to the younger girls so they started mimicing. My dd joined right in. She had low confidence and was holding back in class so you add this draping across the bar it really looked like she didn't care one whit about ballet or her very talented Ballet Mistress. Because dd has ADD and a Kinessthetic learner, I suggested that she mark during the demonstrations. A month later BM reported that her attitude had improved a great deal. Now the other students mark rather than not.

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