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Ballet Talk for Dancers

unsolicited criticism


chauffeur

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My DD and a friend of hers just had an odd experience last night, and I'm curious to know how others might have handled this. The kids were at a rehearsal, running through some steps on their own, when an apprentice with the small pro company that's attached to this school, came up to them and started berating them both for "rolling" their feet. They were stunned and didn't say much back, other than "OK" which only earned them a "don't just say 'OK,' do something about it" from this young woman who then stomped off.

 

The kids incidentally are 10 and 9, while this young woman is in her early 20s. And my DD had no idea who she was until we got back down to the studio today and I found out who she was from the company's director. I told him, pretty calmly but emphatically, that I didn't appreciate hearing that these two kids had gotten pounced on like that by an adult they didn't know, and that in the future, I'd feel a whole lot better if my DD got her instruction only from her teachers or directors. He agreed but also tried to explain that perhaps the apprentice felt entitled to "offer advice" because she does teach a little (3- and 4-year-olds, from what I could find out). I also found out from a few other parents that this apprentice has been unpleasantly throwing her weight around in numerous ways since arriving at the school a few weeks ago.

 

I realize that sometimes being part of a school/company family means that every adult there views themselves as a potential "parent" to the children, but I really didn't feel comfortable with how this scenario played out. Any other thoughts/reactions?

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You did the right thing by informing the director. If these kids were in an unsupervised rehearsal, then they're vulnerable to all sorts of attack. The person running the rehearsal should have said, "Thank you for your input, now get out!" The kids would have to be more diplomatic - Senior dancer present: "Are you scheduled to supervise this rehearsal? No? Then please excuse us, we have work to do." Or words to that effect. "AAAaaahh yer fadder's mustache." would also be acceptable if you were to lower yourself to her standard.

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There is an unfortunate personality type that seems driven to do this sort of thing - generally making themselves universally disliked, and rarely (never??) are they the most talented or respected in whatever the art or field is. I'm sure the girls were shocked and unprepared for this encounter. If they need some practice one-liners, perhaps something like - "thanks, we'll ask for help in class with this ..."

 

I would strongly suspect that her peers have their own one liners, like - "if Miss so-in-so instructs me to do it that way, I will." I doubt she restricts her "help" to those younger than herself.

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Thanks for the validation, folks. And here's the moral to the story -- I was talking to the mom of my daughter's friend today (at the county fair, no less, yee-ha!) and she told me that her son was so freaked out by the apprentice's remarks that at his class yesterday, he was trying so hard to correct his rolling himself, his teacher told him to stop before he hurt himself because he was overcorrecting so extremely.

 

Now if we could just get these too-polite Midwestern kids to try some spicier language the next time they're verbally assaulted by a non-teacher! :wink:

 

and, syr, you're absolutely right -- said apprentice just got shut out of any good parts in the latest production, so I'm guessing she's got an ax she's grinding daily and on anyone whose path she crosses.

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This one works for me: "And you are.....? And you're correcting me because....?"

 

Maybe the students should say something like," Maybe you should discuss this with my teacher."

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Maybe the students should say something like," Maybe you should discuss this with my teacher."

I think that 9 and 10 year olds would feel most comfortable with something like that LMCtech :D . It's hard for kids to have composure when confronted by an adult whom they do not know. Deferring to their teacher's expertise would be something that most kids would be able to remember even when being intimidated and overwhlemed with strong advice.

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The topic of unsolicited criticism reminds me of a situation a few years ago. DD was in a very small school with a teacher who simply did not have good control of the class. There was a mother who would sit on the floor next to the open door, and bark corrections to children other than her own in the class. YIKES! Not only did the kids not know what to say, but as I parent I was not quite sure what to say. It was not my dd, but it was terribly annoying. Nothing about her would indicate that she had any sort of technical background to be doing this....Eventually the teacher started closing the door. This did help!

 

Unsolicited criticism is never easy to deal with - but when it's not given in a constructive helpful spirit, it really is not easy to take. The kill 'um with kindness approach can certainly diffuse the situation. However, there is not immediate gratification in this!

 

mc

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Although, as you said mini cooper, there's no immediate gratification in the "killing them with kindness approach" - it is probably the safest and wisest course for young students to take. If not quite "killing" then at least nod and smile...and then ignore and report to teacher when the next opportunity presents itself. :wub:

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How would everyone feel if this sort of thing was done in a pleasant manner? I am in my early 20s, teach, and dance professionally. It's never happened (and honestly probably won't, I'm pretty shy) but if I saw some young students practicing wrong and kindly offered a suggestion "You might try X on your pirrouettes", would that be wrong? It seems that the main problem is this person's personality and the manner in which she spoke to the girls, but I wanted to check for future reference. I remember as a young child being thrilled if a company member noticed me at all...but they were all pretty kind.

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That's an entirely different thing from the incident reported in the initial post of this thread. A "May I," or a "Can I tell you something about that," is usually greeted cheerfully. 'Way back when, some classmates of mine and I were practicing the "William Tell pas de six", we were having trouble in making a turning movement work. A most beautiful woman, impeccably dressed, was watching, and said, "I think I know where you're having difficulty, may I give you some advice?" We all said, "Sure!" and she told us that the reason that we were tying up at that point was because...and the thing to watch out for later on was...and the counts at such-and-such a point ran.... She was very nice about giving her advice, and we were made very happy by the attentions of this pleasant, unknown lady. We later found out, it had been Toni Lander.

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Swanilda,

You pose an interesting question. Sometimes when I am in the gym, and I see someone doing something incorrectly - or that could injure them - I wonder about offerring suggestions to them. Usually I try to take non-verbal clues. Sometimes people look as though they would welcome a suggestion; sometimes they look as though they think they are doing everything perfectly. In all situations when I have felt compelled to offer some advice, it has been taken well. I don't always feel compelled to offer.

 

Offerring suggestions has led to some great buddies over the years. I think clearly, the intent with which something is offered makes a big difference.

 

You should not be shy, but certainly be ready when a good opportunity presents itself.

 

MC

:blink:

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