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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Incorrect Technique


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Anyone had experience handling a situation where an experienced teacher told their DK that he or she had been taught incorrectly? Yet the DK's regular teacher is reputable? Who do you believe? For those of us who really have no clue, what is the deciding factor? I understand that SI audition results can be used as an indicator, but for the 13-14 age group, they will often accept based on potential, correct? So can this information - audition results - be misleading? We've been struggling with this for a few months - hope someone has some insight!

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Cheetah, was this teacher at a different school, or subbing for the regular teacher? If it was a sub, they had no right to say anything about the training. There are different methods and ways of teaching, and very often it is a difference in style. Check the backgrounds on the teachers. Then tell us a bit more. Really don't know what to say from the information you gave us.

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The comments occurred during a summer program. We aren't sure if it's a difference in style or something to really be concerned about. The reccomendation was to move him somewhere else because he had been taught basic things incorrectly, and we were given two specific recommendations. One of the two is viable, but involves residency. Our DS isn't academically mature enough to move into that environment yet, though. DS bought into the comments and is convinced what he is learning is not exactly wrong, but perhaps not right. We haven't broached this at his studio, but convinced him to be patient and see how things went this year. Sorry - I can't give names. I think you would probably recognize both, though. We actually had thought he was doing well. He only auditioned for two summer programs and was accepted with full scholarship at both. But he has a really great body for dance, is very flexible, etc., so now we are left wondering if it was just "potential" that got him that far. Sorry to be cryptic, I just want to be discreet. Hope it makes sense, because we really don't know where else to turn now.

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Cheetah, the facts of life are that any male student with any potential at all will be scholarshipped for SI programs. If this was a professional program, and they found his training inadequate, I would tend to go with that.

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:) Cheetah - I would agree with Ms. Leigh - take the advice of the professional program. It may be that his current hours/classes are not intense enough? I know that at 12 - 13 my DS was dancing at his local RAD studio - only older boy, but not taking ballet every day. When he auditioned for RWB, the AD called him "a project"! At RWB he was placed in Level 3 to get caught up on technique, which he has never regretted - he did not start in Jrs Mens' class until the following year. The potential will carry them through the younger years, but they will eventually have to get daily, quality training to take them to the next level. And, I wouldn't worry too much about the style - DS has moved from Vaganova training to Cecchetti without any problems, but I think that was due to his excellent technical training at RWB, and that has been acknowledged at his current school by his current teachers. Now Vaganova to Balachine or vice versa may be a different story - don't know.


Would you be able to have your son evaluated at another reputable school in your area? Get a second opinion? Would your son be ready to make the move to a residential school next year?

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Good training is paramount if your DS plans to go on to a professional career. The same thing happened to DD although it didn't occur at a summer program. We were given indications by more than 1 reputable teacher that my dd should look for better training. After more investigation, we switched studios. This was a decision my dd has never regretted. We did not consult the home studio because we didn't feel it was necessary. We tried to leave it a nice way, but the director didn't take things very well. My advice to you, is to try to speak with the instructor(s) at the summer program and see if you can get a better understanding about the reasons your ds needs to leave his current training school. If you fully understand why the suggestions were made, then I would seen a second opinion. It doesn't sound like it is a mere matter of teaching style, but rather there may be real concerns. My dd is at a residency now and one particular teacher has told my dd she hasn't had very good training previously and that she has been taught things incorrectly. I know that these comments have to do with style more than anything else. Good luck!

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Thanks for the feedback. With no dance background, it's hard to know if the concerns are actual technique or style differences. Unfortunately, our instinct is leading us to believe the technique issues are very real.

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Can you give a specific example of the technique "problem" that the professional school saw?


There are some areas where there are different schools of thought on rather basic things - one thing that comes to mind is how to work with hyperextended legs - whether to allow a space between the heels in first position (or how much space) - where there are very good teachers that hold very different opinions about the subject.


The "incorrect" technique might be in this category. It might be a more cut and dried thing, though. If you tell us exactly what they think is being taught "incorrectly" it will be easier to diagnose if this is an issue that you need to fix or less critical.



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I can only imagine what it must be like to not have ballet training and trying to decipher who's right. Especially when a 'reputable' school is involved. Still it happens.


Call the teacher at the summer school program and ask them specific question such as:

Is there something wrong with his placement ?(this is a big deal)

Is he turning out incorrectly? (also a big deal)

Is his dancing 'sloppy' versus clean. (for example: does he close to fifth position after jumps when required? Are his feet pointed when they leave the ground unless they're supposed to be flexed?)

Do they think his dance training is lacking due to a poor syllabus? For instance at this level he should be able to do such and such step but he hasn't learned it yet.

Do they notice any habits that may be damaging to your son's body?


There are also some great reference books that you might check out of your library that can help you. A great book is Gretchen Ward Warren's Classical Ballet Technique. It's a good reference because it has numerous photos of what the steps are supposed to look like. Merrill Ashley also has a great book called Dancing for Balanchine. She talks about her career throughout most of the book. But the gem is the photos of her doing very basic steps and explaining what and how. For example battement tendu, very basic but I learned a lot from her discussion on this step alone.


If you do leave your ds's current studio, do it as graciously as possible. The dance world is small.

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I also recommend the Warren book. Unfortunately, I can't recommend the Ashley one (or Suki Schorer's book) because they are based on Balanchine's choreographic style rather than a training method suitable for students, especially at age 13-14 when many habits are still being formed.

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Sorry, Cheetah for all those typos in my earlier post. I was typing too fast! I highly recommend the Gretchen Ward book. Yes, do some further investigating as others have suggested. You should be able figure out if the concerns are real basic training concerns or stylistic ones. I can't stress enough how important placement is early on in ballet training. Also training that takes into consideration injury prevention is very important. Let us know what you find out!

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Thanks for everyone's great advice. I've spoken with my son again. The concerns centered around his technique "base." I'll have him try and point out the things he believes are different - or things that were specifically pointed out to him as being incorrect. Some of the things center around pirouettes - that's his major complaint right now. Seemed stylistic to me but what do I know. I watch videos and there are all kinds of subtle differences. We'll also contact his summer program. I know that his AD received feedback from one of his programs - she called and asked directly. But that feedback was never shared with us. It's also not the program where the information on poor technique came up - at least not to my knowledge. We'll also look into the books. I had thought about those but thought perhaps it wouldn't provide much information. It seems as if they would, in fact, be good references. If we do decide to leave, then we will be very gracious, as recommended. It is, in fact, a very small world, and everyone seems to have friends of friends of friends. At least we're in a position where we can state simply that he wants a program that provides better opportunities for male students! I truly believe that everyone involved truly wants what is best for him - and for him to succeed if this is what he wants to do. That will help when we make decisions, too. Thanks again.

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