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Guest Gindratt

Questioning of Faculty Behavior

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BW

Gindratt, although I do wonder why your daughter has chosen to stay at this school, assuming the described circumstances didn't just start this semester... When did these behaviors reveal themselves to you?

 

If I had a school of any sort's Director say he hated kids, I'd pull my kid pronto. Staying at a place like that can't bring anything good, in my opinion.

 

Your daughter can find her training elsewhere and damn the supposed contacts these people have.

 

Good luck with your decisions and I sure hope you and your daughter can arrive at the best ones quickly. Please go with your gut on this one.

Edited by BW

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Guest Gindratt

Thanks again.

 

Alina, I so agree. You put it so well!

 

BW, we've asked ourselves this many times. First two years were fairly smooth, didn't hear much (until later), seems they're a little easier on underclassmen. We heard the bottle throwing, chair throwing and temper tantrums, chalked it up to "artistic temperament"...our mistake. It's the junior/senior years that they really gear up their preparation steps for "how it is in a company" (according to them). By the end of jr. year we were in the throes of it. Many juniors did not come back, we asked ours not to return. She wanted to finish, we let her. We're not stage parents. We've always felt this dance passion had to be from her heart and for her to do it if she wanted but were ok with her pulling out at any time. I've never seen anything like the dedication these young dancers have, my hat's off to all of them. I was a teenager who just wanted to chew bubblegum and paint my nails, what did I know. We thought it might get better, thought perhaps it was just a tough year. Now it's too late. We hesitated, big mistake. My husband hates the dance world so much now that he doesn't want her to dance anywhere again, but she will. It's who she is. We will take some action once we're out. If nothing else, this feedback has made it completely clear that we should not walk away.

 

I did not write with the intention of striking fear into the hearts of those of you who are considering a dance school. Those of you who are worried are, I'm sure, making the right choices.

 

As for AsleepAtTheWheel's advice, it was all good. Of course...we picked ours because of enjoying one summer program...oops. They courted big-time in summer, which is night and day from year-round. I like the pop-in visits, good idea. Asking kids would never have worked at our school. It's true kids are honest, but not when they think feedback from a parent might get back to administration/faculty with their name listed as the source. I know this is true, have seen my own daughter tell a mother that the school is wonderful with a faculty member standing within earshot. If I had known then what I know now, I would have asked for names of parents and/or kids that have graduated, gone to college or pro, would have called away from school. Knowing the kids I know that have left now, think that would be the most reliable source of an honest opinion.

 

Well, we have learned the hard way, but our daughter is well aware that the problems are much deeper than any little thing like a mistake in a dance rehearsal. So, she will survive. If any companies treat dancers this harshly, I would have been sick to heart to have heard that.

 

I will keep reading anything anyone has to say and have a couple of other moms already looking in to read also. It's meant a lot to us. It's easier than you think to be in deep before you know you were even headed there! Thanks to all of you!

Edited by Gindratt

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syr

In answer to crzctldt - between SI's and year round and my daughter attended a number of pre-pro schools, including NCSA, and the description above does not fit any of them.

 

I would wonder if some parents of senior might get together and figure out some effective way to advocate for the students/ report the school if only after your students are safely out of there. Meet with Board members? A reporter?

 

I think that some kids are willing to put up with something like this longer than the parents, unless a viable alternate is put right in front of them and the means to make the transition. They feel that they are giving up everything to walk away from it.

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Dave

What horrifies me the most is the thought that students -- and their parents -- who haven't experienced any other ballet schools might actually think this is normal, when in fact it's the worst place I've ever heard of outside a Dickens novel! :)

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BW

Thank you, Gindratt for your speedy reply with the personal historic background information.

 

Unfortunately, it's too easy to become seduced sometimes. Thank goodness you have a daughter with a strong personality. Please to all who might be reading, if your dancer attends this program and it's as described and they're not about to graduate - leave now and count your blessings.

 

I really do hope that come graduation you'll be on the phone to the appropriate governing bodies from the State government, local and Federal governments to the child protective services, to the National Association Independent Schools and/or any another appropriate entitities. I'd also try to get the newspapers involved.

 

P.S. syr, Dave Babsaroo and I were posting at the same time. All good posts. Dickensian, indeed here in the USA in the 21st century. I am completely behind syr's and Babsaroo's very wise and responsible posts. Abuse is a dangerous thing - once it's accepted for any reason it will too often lead to repeats in the future - be it at the hands of another or self inflicted as it was in the student who resorted to cutting herself.

Edited by BW

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Babsaroo

My concern is the students may be subconsciously internalizing that it's ok to be verbally and physically abused. If it's ok to do it in an ongoing, continuous manner in the arena of ballet, how does one differientate it from personal relationships as well? The students spent an incredible amount of time with these instructors.

 

What would happen if a group of parents voiced concerns? Is there Board of Directors that could be approached? What about the local media?

 

I hate that your daughter has had to experience this...what a quagmire with potential long lasting issues.

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Guest Gindratt

Dave--yep, you're right. It does feel like a Dicken's-kind of existence. The irony for us was that we were really searching for a school with a nurturing touch. The laugh is on us. How naive can two parents be? Now I do feel like slinking off, feeling the fool.

Edited by Gindratt

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BW

Don't slink off. Talk to the other parents. I know that some will not listen but you have to do what you believe is right and by doing so you're an example that your daughter will never forget - and other students and parents who are worth their salt and not completey deluded will recognize and appreciate. One act of courage and integrity can make a huge difference.

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Guest Gindratt

Thanks, BW. You've been very supportive.

 

Since this is certainly in the forefront of my mind these days, I will consider all the input and suggestions, get through the next couple of months and then see where we go from there. I know why parents just leave, I feel the inclination to just want to move on myself, know my daughter does, and not deal. We have a lot of thinking to do. But you've all helped and incredible amount.

 

Hopefully the next time I get to post here it will be under happier circumstances. Best to all of you!

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BW

Well, Gindratt, I wish you and your daughter well and hope to hear more from you in the not too distant future. You know that we'll be thinking of you.

Edited by BW

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balletbooster

Since Gindratt is from the Southeast US, I have noted that several have wondered if she is referring to NCSA. From reading the description of the school, nothing seems to fit with NCSA. The AD Gindratt speaks of is a man. At NCSA, there is no 'AD'. There is a Dean of Dance and she is a woman. There are no 'main teachers' at the school. There are 8 members of the ballet faculty, excluding the Dean and Asst. Dean. They rotate teaching levels and share responsibilities throughout the year for setting productions. I've also never heard of any faculty member forbidding a student to attend any SI. Those mentioned in Gindratt's post are all SIs that many at the school have attended. As Syr has already mentioned, the school Gindratt is describing does not sound at all like NCSA, except that it is an 'arts school.'

 

This does indeed sound like a very bad environment and I really cannot imagine letting a thrown chair or any other hurled object 'slip by' as a teacher having a bad day or just something to be endured. While this sounds truly awful and quite hard to fathom, I do think that since Gindratt has not named the school, it is important to assure those who might be considering NCSA, that the school she is describing is NOT NCSA.

 

I do understand the perdicament that you find yourself in, with your daughter not specifically the target of the abuse and you not wanting to hurt your dancer's chances of getting a job by exposing the abusive behavior. But, I really urge you to take a stand and make sure that you do what you can for those who will continue at the school, after your daughter graduates. Have you tried to communicate with the parents of the students who are the targets of the bad behavior? I would really suggest that you at the very least band together with other concerned parents and share your experiences and compare notes.

 

YOu have not mentioned if the school is public or private, but I am sure that the school has a board of governors or trustees or some independent group that would be quite horrified to know of the events that you describe. If you have received no satisfaction from the teacher in question or the AD, you should go to the head of the school (assuming that this is an arts school with a head master or chancellor over all of the arts) and then if no satisfaction is received, to the board of trustees. Every faculty is answerable to a higher authority in a school such as this and I'm quite confident that there are those in authority who would take action were they notified of the situation.

 

To those considering residency, I am sure posts such as this send chills right up your spine. :speechless: As others have mentioned, if you are considering a residency program, by all means visit the school. Spend a couple of days if you can. Watch as many classes by as many teachers as you can. A good school with nothing to hide will allow you to visit as many classes with any teacher you choose. When we visited NCSA, we were greeted in the morning with a schedule of the day's classes for all levels, with notes on who was teaching each class. We were walked to the first class that we chose, given a brief tour so we could find other classrooms and then we were free to roam the halls, talk to students, watch any class we chose, etc. Stand outside and watch a bit where you cannot be detected too. And, not just the level you assume your dancer will be placed in. At some point, most dancers will have every teacher in the school. While there may be lots of somewhat eccentric personalities found on the faculty of ballet schools, this kind of behavior is not eccentric, it is abusive. There is a BIG difference. Watching classes, talking to those who have attended the school or are currently in attendance and reading everything you can about the program are essential before placing your child in their care.

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calamitous

My Dd is a dancer in a public arts school and although I get complaints from her that the classes are more or less enjoyable with some teachers, and sometimes with some groups of students, there has never been anything of this sort discussed. I was also a teacher at several private schools and although not arts school, in private schools more than public, teachers were much more open to sucritiny than in public. I cannot believe that there have not been past complaints about the teachers.

 

Is it possible to document what is happening in the class? When students report swearing by the teachers, send a message to the school administration, if there are reprecussions send another message to the adminstration. A paper trail is a powerful tool. Can you encourage other parents to keep records and documentation of teacher issues? To a large extent tyranny can only exist when the perpetrators feel they are not going to be held as responsible.

 

Finally, I guess my last thought would be, is the dance instruction that wonderful that I am willing to sacrifice my daughters emotional and physical safety? Sometimes wanting to "finish what I started" isn't always the right solution for the long run.

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LRS

I understand why you are hesitant to name the school online. If your dd has decided to stay in this school then your choices are limited. Be thankful that she is telling you about what is going on in the classroom. Unfortunately a lot of kids wouldn't share that information with their parents. Just keep talking to her and reinforcing that this abusive behavior isn't right or normal.

Edited by LRS

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Treefrog

As much as we'd all like to know what school Gindratt is speaking of, it just wouldn't be wise for her to say any more. It could hurt her daughter at a delicate stage in her career if in ANY way it got back to the school.

 

Moreover -- without meaning to demean Gindratt ONE BIT -- these are unsubstantiated allegations. I have NO REASON to doubt Gindratt, but until someone else comes along with firsthand knowledge, I would not like to see the school's name mentioned.

 

The moral is take Universal Precautions. Check out thoroughly ANY school or summer program before you send your DK there.

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Guest Gindratt

Ouch. Feeling like blame is being somewhat placed on us. Believe me, we know this is a horrible situation that we are responsible for exposing our daughter to, but it is very hard to keep up with what is going on at a boarding school sometimes. Espeically if kids gloss over or are in denial themselves. It's not like we've chosen to ignore the situation, we're just trying to find a way to cope and help our daughter decide if this would be an abusive career or not in the long run. In the beginning it takes a lot of reading between the lines. By the time we were in the know this much, we were into senior year. We really aren't bad parents, as I think some are insinuating, nor or we making any of this up out of our lively imaginations...and are not ignoring the situation. Feeling very shell-shocked.

 

Also, things have been reported many times in the past years. It is always swept under the carpet, we were there 3 years before we ever heard a whisper of past incidents. There were some penalities directed at the faculty, but they don't seem to have made much difference. Things get better for awhile, then they went right back to their old ways and admin. looks other way, no parents around, bottom line...kids want roles in productions...known to withhold as repercussions. Second problem is a group governing that is minimally involved, the idle rich, mostly in name only. It's a very hard, involved situation that is hard and involved to explain in a couple of postings.

 

I am feeling somewhat regretful for having posted. Is there a way to end this thread or completely remove it? I don't like feeling like we have to defend ourselves, just to tired to cope with that. I thank the ones who offered support. I was really only interested in the beginning to hear from teachers or those involved in companies to see if this is the way dancers are treated, as we've been led to believe...thus our asking our daughter to leave, do something else. But she's 18 and this is her choice now to finish.

 

OK, I take full responsibility for putting her there, for allowing her to stay this last year. Thank you BW and Dave, and the others for the input about most companies and their methods. This has been helpful.

 

If a moderator would like to delete this, it is certainly probably a good idea.

Edited by Gindratt

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