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Questions Asked by Other Students


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Last night, during a class, while the teacher was talking singularly to another student, I was asked to explain a movement by a different student. There was a total of four adult students (that is a large class for us), ranging from beginner to intermediate (me). The teacher was speaking directly to one student, one was practicing turns and one student (the most beginning student) was asking me to explain the direction of the turn. I was trying to explain the difference between en dehors and en dedans. I simply told the student to make an en dehors turn, to think turn away from the supporting leg. At this point, the teacher stopped talking to the student she was speaking to and said, "There goes Donna (me) teaching again". I found this to be embarrassing :) (I would never presume to teach) and I said "I'm explaining the direction of the turn, telling her what you told me". The teacher's reply was "of course you are". :thumbsup: Now, we are all adults in the class, and there are a lot of times when I am asked to explain a move from a student because she doesn't understand what the teacher is trying to say. The teacher is older (78) and has a heavy accent, and she doesn't do a lot of personal demonstrating. She will usually use a student to demonstrate. But there are a lot of different ways to explain the same move, and sometimes I am able to describe a move in a very concise manner (i.e., assemblé is brush, jump, land) rather than a complicated explanation and I will get asked to explain. I don't want to be rude and just ignore the question, and if I tell the student to ask the teacher, she just gets a repeat of the first explanation. Most of the time I try to keep to myself, but then the other student think I'm standoffish. So, when do I answer a question, and how do I not answer a question? Any ideas? :shrug:

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Since this teacher has asked you to explain things for her, I would think that she trusts you to do that. However, it might good to clarify that with her. Just talk to her and ask her what she would like for you to do in the situation you describe above. If she does not want you to do it, then your only option is to tell the beginning student that it would be best to ask the teacher. If she agrees that you should answer the question when she is busy with another student, then perhaps she won't make any more of those kinds of comments when you are doing it. I think the best way to deal with this is to just talk to her. She may not have meant that remark the way it came out, but, maybe she did. I think she will respect you for asking her advice on this.

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Thank you for your response, and yes, I will speak with her about this situation, it certainly can't hurt!

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My own opinion is that for better or worse, teachers “own” the class and are pretty much responsible for all the explaining that goes on, whether or not it is clear. It seems to me that an essential student skill is to take whatever a teacher says and to try as best one can to make sense of that. Asking other students for advice during class, other than the absolute most simple kind that can be conveyed either through a very simple demonstration or 3-4 words, I believe hurts the student in the long run. Let’s face it, dance is all about struggle, the struggle to kinesthetically understand and do what you are either being asked to do or what you see demonstrated.


If it’s after class, obviously that is different.


The only time I recall any students in a ballet class asking anything of other students has been among we memory impaired males who are trying to get either an across the floor pirouette or grand allegro combination. Being males, the number of words we use are the absolute minimum, however.


I was once in a mixed ability modern class, where some less experienced people did tend to ask some of we more experienced people questions. Call me rude, call me insensitive, but when asked something, I would just look intently at the teacher (who was usually explaining something to someone or the class in general) and shrug my shoulders in an I don’t know gesture.

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I agree with Gary. After class explanation is an altogether different matter, but in class, nobody is supposed to speak! B)

While the teacher corrects something to a student is NOT when you're supposed to figure out what foot goes front. Listen to the explanation THEN if you're still clueless, ask the teacher.

Each and every student has to realise this is a GROUP class. So, asking a question to the teacher means that you're asking something that's of interest to the WHOLE class (because generally, if the level is respected, if one doesn't know, the rest of the group follows). :yes:

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During this particular incident, the teacher was speaking specifically to one individual student, very quietly, no one else was included in their conversation. It was during this conversation that I was asked for assistance by another student. This happens about once a week. I agree that if the teacher is speaking to the entire class, or even to a group of students (if I can hear the corrections I try to listen, figuring any corrections can be good assistance), and I personally get upset if, while the teacher is speaking to more than one person, a student tries to engage me in a conversation.

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I totally agree, Dancepig. I get upset also - partially because I do not want to be mistakenly considered the "rude" one in that situation should the teacher look up etc.




Also it can break my concentration.


But at the same time, I usually pretend I don't hear them or say I don't know, I'm not sure. To avoid the problem you encountered. Her manner sounds a bit abrupt - I would have a very nice conversation with her just to make sure she is satisfied and understands you are not trying to "teach."


Conforming my behavior etc. to keep my teacher the most happy and able to teach in the classroom is a priority of mine. That may be an unpopular opinion but I am just so happy to be in class, and it's their area of expertise, I try to enter and be a resident of their world 100%.


I think I have been very lucky though (and am much less experienced than many here.)

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Well, speaking as a memory impaled? repaired? male, I agree with Gary.


At first, when I read the topic of this thread I thought it was going to

be about the kinds of questions that are asked sometimes, sotto voice, during

grand allegro -- the variety in which someone is trying to remember the

combination and says something like "What comes after the pas de blah?"

or "are there TWO saut de splats?"


In our class at least, this happens rarely, and only when the instructor is

otherwise occupied with a student, or the cd player, etc, in that time period

when we are marking things for ourselves. It tends to happen most for

really really long or unusual combinations, and the questions and answers are

(as Gary described) as brief as possible. In a few years I've maybe asked

a half dozen of these to other students, and answered as many.


But finally, to your specific issue -- I would be uncomfortable answering

(or asking) the sort of question you describe. I wouldn't want to put my

fellow students on the spot by asking, or misinform them by answering incorrectly,

or as spankster points out, appear to be rude. Our adult class is very informal

in many ways, but I think it can be that way because everyone is considerate.

Well, mostly.


And not to pile on, but I like Victoria's suggestion about you discussing this informal

mentor role with the teacher. It seems useful for other students in the situation you

describe, and you sound like you're good at it, too. But I wonder if it feels like an

extra burden on YOU... If you are comfortable in that role, then maybe you could

ask your teacher for some support in class around these questions so that you

don't feel like you have to justify the fact that you're explaining things. Also,

you may need some help from your teacher to limit the number of questions you are

getting -- if you are acting as an interpreter/explainer, that leaves you little time and

space to be a student yourself, asking your own questions, working on your own weaknesses.

It seems like what your teacher really needs is a teaching assistant -- which would free

you to be 100% student again.

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We get a lot of students who don't understand english (or one of the languages my teacher speaks), so it really is necessary sometimes for a student to act as translator or teacher.


I don't mind helping someone with the combination if they didn't quite catch it and another group is going. And it takes too long for the teacher to go over it 20 times. I think she'd prefer that a student help out in that way, rather than being asked a zillion times what comes after pas de chat or whatever.


If she's talking or explaining something, I'll ignore someone if they ask a question. It's rude not to listen, even if the explanation is about something else entirely.

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