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Ballet Talk for Dancers

San Francisco Ballet School

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  • mirabray


  • lemlemish


  • LMCtech


  • dancemaven


  • 1 year later...

Quick question about the nutcracker : do the "artillery" soldiers basically just roll the cannon on and off stage? I'm guessing the "infantry" are the ones marching around with guns. My daughter hasn't had a rehearsal yet, and I just want to make sure she's prepared for the minuteness of her part. Don't get me wrong, she's delighted to be in it, especially since she was too tall for the key roles for her level, but I want her to be prepared.

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The cannon and the mousetrap too. And there is a bit of mime/acting involved compared to the other soldiers. If you are trying to "sell it" to your child, you can point out the importance to the plot of the mousetrap. And also there is a learning piece in that no matter where they are supposed to put it, they have to adjust the positioning depending on where the nutcracker and the mouse king actually end up... ie the principals don't move to the prop as much as the kids have to adjust to the company dancers.

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Oh, thank you, lemlemish! So thankful for the info. She'll love any miming/acting, that's her thing! I don't really have to sell it to her, I just don't want her to get to her first rehearsal and think, "wait, that's it?"

It's a funny part - is it usually level 2s who are on the tall side for the other parts, do you know?

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  • 4 months later...
  • 1 month later...

My DD attended last year (Level 6) and was invited to attend year-round. But then again, everyone in her class was invited to come back for the year round program. She was nonetheless excited and so we made the move. So did a handful of her SI classmates. But it turned out to be a wrong move.

I guess it's been no secret (but to us) that the year-round instruction at SFBS has been on a steady decline while the abuse on the rise.

I'll write the post that I wish we had to read last year when we were making the hard decision of which direction to go.


The summer program was a completely different from what the year-round program turned out to be. While my DD LOVED the summer program & its teachers, she was stuck with a new teacher that the school director had hired. (She was his former dancing partner and former teacher at Pittsburgh Ballet.) The woman simply cannot teach. She just yells, gives no corrections, but quickly turns into a supportive teacher ONLY when the school director (Patrick) or company director (Helgi) step in to observe.

The only girls out of 20 who get any attention are the 5 who secretly take expensive, private lessons outside of SFB (it is forbidden in the handbook) and who's parents give the teacher rides to.

Since the beginning of the school year, 5 girls from my DD's class have left SFB due to this teacher. And the more advanced girls who are older and looking to be auditioning for companies have been ready to revolt all year due to the wasted time with this teacher, but they are too afraid to say anything to the director, because this is his good friend. Many of them have also left.


We found incredible dance instructors who USED to teach at SFB but left for the same reason - the decline in the quality of the teaching while the abuse has gone up - and have started to take private lessons with them. WHAT A DIFFERENCE it makes to take lessons from someone who loves to teach, knows what they are doing, and is supportive of their students. My DD thrives in those lessons. Meanwhile, back at SFBS, she is stuck with this miserable woman who hates life, teaching, and food. (She can be found sucking down a cancer stick outside any chance she gets.)


We've just decided to wait her out & hopefully next year my DD won't have her as a teacher. If so, we too are gone. It truly is a shame because the company is amazing. But they get most of their principals from afar, not trained in-house. That's very telling. They however fill their corps with dancers from the school in order to say that they promote dancers from the school to the company, but they are stuck in corps in perpetuity. And they'll say that dancers that they invite from afar to be trainees are also from SFBS, which is sort of deceptive. Just check out the principal dancers' bios. As well as the soloists. You'll get the drift.


Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but I sure wish I had a post like this to read last year before we made our decision.

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Sita33, thanks for sharing your experiences with the school. Do you feel that most of the problems at the year-round are due to this particular teacher, and that if she left it would be a great improvement? Do the students have only one teacher? Or do they have different teachers on different days? Thanks so much for your help!

Edited by dancerdancer
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Sita33, thank you for sharing. This has been DD's dream school for years, but it definitely does not sound like it would be a healthy environment for her personality, even if there were several teachers for her classes.

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I sincerely appreciate you sharing your experience, Sita33. This is very helpful information.

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Sorry your daughter had such a bad experience there...and this is not meant to be a post to contradict what you said..but I guess it is. My daughter became a trainee there after attending for 3 summers so I guess you can say she was brought in from afar. She knows the teacher you speak of and has taken classes with her and really enjoys this teacher. She works them hard and gave a hard barre. My DD says there's nothing wrongwith a hard class- it pushes you to improve. This teacher though very thin, definitely likes her food. She has a wonderful connection with my DD as well as other students and is very friendly. Very sorry your DD had a bad experience, but I don't think that's the situation for all.

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Wannabe, I appreciate your sharing your perspective, as well. I always find it fascinating how different dancers can have such different experiences with the same teacher or school. So far, this has been the case with just about every teacher my daughters have had - In every scenario, some of the dancers loved the teacher and others did not fit so well in terms of teaching approach or personality. I love to hear as many perspectives as possible, because I feel like we get a better appreciation for the possibilities, and I can often get a better feel for how my particular daughters might fit in that range, based on how they have done with similar teachers in the past. And, for this reason, I have so far tended to prefer situations where my daughters have more than one teacher, so that hopefully at least one of them will be just what they need. I worry when I only hear good things about a school, because I know that there is more to the story that I'm probably missing. And vice versa, of course.


So thanks to both of you for sharing your perspectives! And thanks in advance to anyone else who wants to share their experiences. It really does help!

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  • 1 month later...

It is one of my biggest goals to attend SFB school eventually, after attending the summer intensive. Since it is such an EXPENSIVE area, my parents are unwilling to move with me. Would it be possible to set up a host-family situation with one of the families at the school? Does anyone know if this has ever happened before?


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  • 1 month later...

DD is looking for recommendations for yoga and Pilates studios near SFBS. She is also looking for a gym with an indoor pool for swimming laps. Does anyone have suggestions?

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