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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Are they demanding too much of me?

Guest Anindya Krisna

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Guest Anindya Krisna



I'd like to share my experience and maybe get some feedbacks from those who might know the solution to my problem. I recently had a ballet performance in which I had to dance a very short pas de trois (it was about one or two minutes), a one-minute solo and an approximately one-minute coda. It was very a short dance indeed. But at the end of the dance, in the coda, my energy level always dropped. (Now you know that I didn't dance very well in the performance.) I know there are many factors that can lead to this, but let me first explain to you how I was trained for this part.


The guest choreographer who came from Canada to make this production with us started rehearsals five months ago. We rehearsed once a week, for an hour and a half. The solo consisted of the following steps: hops en pointe on one leg, ballotees, two double pirouettes (one from fourth, one from fifth), sissone arabesques en pointe, sissones fermees, retire passes. Although it might sound easy, it did not feel that way for me, because I never danced a solo in my whole life (poor me!), and I did not have pointe classes since last year. I occasionally put my pointe shoes on for class, barre and center, by my own initiative, because actually the school doesn't really care about pointe technique.


For the pas the trois, we did mainly lifts and double pirouettes, an arabesque penchee, and promenades. My partners were hired from another company, and they had never done classical ballet partnering. Neither had I. SO, we had a really 'great' time... falling and stumbling :) Again, it might sound easy, but it definitely wasn't for us.


In the coda, for the so-called tour de force, the choreographer asked me to do grand battements a la seconde ("180 degrees, no less"), alternating with single pirouettes. And two more double pirouettes, in the middle of the coda and at the end. But by then, I was already dead tired. I could never finish the coda properly, because I didn't have enough energy to do it. I could do it nicely if I wasn't so tired, like if we were practising only those steps and not the whole dance.


Apart from the sometimes once a week, sometimes three times a week rehearsal for my part, I took classes everyday. But those weren't advanced classes that could support me in my part for the performance. I took adult classes and lower lever classes. Why? Because there was a lack of teachers. The one who used to teach advanced level wasn't in good health, and there was no one who could replace her. So I was deprived of good, challenging classes that could help me in achieving better technique and stamina.


How did I cope with it? I practised by myself, to no avail, it seems. It was very hard to push and correct myself, and although the choreographer had been tremendously pushy and 'aggressive' toward me during rehearsals, we simply did not rehearse often enough. I did get lots of corrections that I tried to implement, but somehow my body did not want to listen.


Right now, as I'm writing this, I'm feeling very sad. Because I had been told that I danced very badly in the performance by my teacher. Honestly, even though I lack the technique in ballet, I never lacked the passion. And she could not see how hard I'd tried to make things work. But still, in my opinion, the only way to make me dance the part perfectly is by giving me intensive training, advanced and pointe classes, and more rehearsals. So it's like, "Here's a part for you, it's a very important part, learn it by yourself, I wanna see good results in the end no matter what!" How am I supposed to feel?


I started ballet late, when I was fourteen. I tried very hard to catch up and make up for the lost years. I long so much for a caring teacher. I wouldn't mind having to take classes everyday and get corrections as well as yelled at everyday, if necessary, as long as the teacher did it because he/she cared. Sometimes I feel stupid for not being able to meet the demands they make on me and not being able to make myself a dancer. Is it possible to achieve better technique with the absence of a good teacher?


I realize that this is a very emotional, lengthy post. I hope I wrote clearly enough. Sorry for the grammatical and spelling errors. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.


PS I live in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Anindya, you write very, very well! Thank you :thumbsup:


To answer your primary question, in terms of the possibility of becoming a dancer, or achieve better technique, without a very good teacher, no. No one could be expected to dance the kind of work you describe without very intensive technique and pointe training. Nor could you be expected to last through the coda of a work like that with the lack of rehearsal and the fact that you and your partners had not ever done these things before. The fault lies with the teacher and the choreographer, for not recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the dancers and adjusting the choreography accordingly, or, for not providing the amount of time in class and rehearsal that would have properly prepared you for this work. :)

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Guest Anindya Krisna

Thank you for your reply Ms. Leigh! I feel so much better now. I've been called irresponsible for not being able to dance well in the performance. Now I know who the irresponsible ones are. I'm thinking, maybe they expected so much from me because there was this one dancer who danced the lead role in the performance en pointe, who NEVER took classes since three months ago. It is rather amazing how she could do all that. Maybe because she's been dancing since 3, and always got the lead roles (she's the 'star' of the school), that's why she has a very good stamina :thumbsup: They compared me with her. "If she can do that, so can you!" :)

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And there's no reason that you can't dance as well as, or better than any other dancer, as long as you are given the same time and effort to prepare for a part.


The artistic staff fell down on the job in giving you the support you needed, and when you add two neophyte male dancers, that's nearly a guarantee for less than stellar performance. It wasn't their fault; they're new! The artistic staff fell down on them, too. You were lucky, all three, not to end up in the orchestra pit!

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I don't understand why the choreographer didn't adjust the choreography if it wasn't ready to be shown. If it wasn't happened a week before the show, its probably not going to happen. Not only that, the steps he gave you do not sound like the steps one gives someone who has been en pointe the amount of time you've been en pointe. And a choreographer needs to be able to properly communicate corrects. If his corrections weren't working for you, he should have found a better way to communicate them.


Anyway, I'm sorry you had to go through all that.

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It clearly is not your fault. You have not had any pointe training for such a long time- and you have not been properly prepared to execute such advanced steps en pointe by your school.

I call that careless- you could easily get hurt if you were not trained well for those specific steps. It is not your fault at all- your school is acting most carelessly. If your teacher expects you to dance that choreography he or she has to provide sufficient training for you to be able to achieve it. Nothing does come without work and training- but what can you do if the training you need is just not available? They cannot expect you to do things you were not trained well enough in- they would have to adjust the choreography to your personal needs and provide better pointe training for you.


Do not be sad or angry! You did not do anything wrong- it is all your school`s fault! You could have easily gotten hurt!!! If possible for you please try to change schools! (though I know how hard it is to get pre pro training at your age - ballet world sometimes is plain unfair!)


Take care,


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Guest Anindya Krisna

Thank you, Mr. Johnson and Shulie! :)


Yes, I'm trying my best to find a new teacher. My current teacher was actually a very good one, but she's already in her sixties and not in very good health, that's why she cannot provide the kind of training I hoped I'd get. Three years ago, when I entered the school, she was a lot more attentive. She still walked around the class and gave corrections. Now she just expects us to know what to do, mainly because she's too tired to do all the work. I understand that teaching ballet is a very tough and tiring job, just as learning it.


Shulie, where in Germany are you? One of the dancers in the Pina Bausch dance company is from our school. Her name is Ditta Miranda Jasfji. We are very proud of her :lol:

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  • 1 month later...
Guest vinhotfeet

Well, partially you're right, the choreographer should have changed the part for you if it wasn't the thing for you to do. But, things like stamina for three pieces is a thing you need to develop yourself. I know the school, students and teachers very well, so I can say that, if you've got an open mind and open eyes, you could learn immensly there. I've also seen your performance, and heared all the stories "behind the scenes"... So, sorry to say, but first learn to look at yourself in an honest way. Don't compare yourself with others, but learn from what you see (positive and negative). Also forget bout your strong points in technique, but work on the weak parts. The strong points will always stay.... And, don't make yourself a victim.... It's a cruel world, deal with it and fight back.... True fighters will get where they want.... Believe me, I've expierienced it myself....

Good luck for the future,




*post edited by Moderator to remove full quote of previous post. Be sure to click on ADD REPLY not "REPLY.

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Hello, Vincent. My, toughlove is...tough! :wink:


But you've told the truth here, if a little bluntly.

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Guest Anindya Krisna

To 'Vincent':


Thank you so much for your input. I greatly appreciate it. Yes, I am indeed learning to overcome my weaknesses, that's why I keep coming to classes everyday to work on them.


What I do not appreciate very much from your reply is that if you are 'Vincent from Netherlands', it means that you do not know the school, students, and teachers as well as you think you do. Moreover, I don't even know for sure who you are. So I don't think it's fair to claim that you know the school or me or the situation we were in around the time of our last performance.


Whoever you are, I believe you're wise enough to judge someone not only from a single performance or from 'behind-the-scenes' stories that you heard, but from their entire history and most importantly, their work ethics. And if you ARE Vincent from Introdans, then NO I HAVE NEVER WORKED WITH YOU. Therefore, it would be very unwise to listen to rumors instead of seeing for yourself how I work.


Lastly, if you have anything personal to say, and if you do indeed know me, please message me privately.


Thank you once again for your attention.



NOTE: I do realize that my previous posts were quite emotional. But I was telling all the facts. No more, no less. Things are a lot better in the school now. Our director hired this wonderful teacher from Australia, from whom I've learned a lot about my weaknesses AND how to deal with them :)

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All right, all right, turnabout is fair play, but let's not let this degenerate into a squabble. Otherwise, I'll have to close the thread.

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