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Lack of Demonstration in Class

Tiny Dancer

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A group of parents at our DD's school are becoming concerned over some differences in teaching style we have noticed developing over the past year. In the past, we have had teachers that demonstrated what they were teaching. This was very effective as ballet is a visual, and was taught in a visual presentation. As of late teaching is being taught with verbal explainations primarily. This is proving not as effective and somewhat frustrating. The teacher or teachers typically stand in the front of the room yelling over the music, and looking displeased with the group as a whole.


Also, we are having fewer and fewer piano players and are using recorded music instead. We're not sure if this is due to budget constraints primarily or not.


We are associated with a small company and are able to bring some fine performances to our city, relying on visiting guest artists. Our opportunity to perform is greater than at most schools as a result. However, our technique is not what it was in the past. This may be due to the above difference in teaching style and departure of some very good teachers that have left the school.


It is quite sad for these students who have expected more, and given of their time and energy all these years, as well as the supporting parents. The future looks gray at best here, unless someone or something can turn this situation around quickly.

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Have any of you spoken with the administration about your concerns, and if so, what was their response?

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Yes, to a limited degree. Parental input isn't in keeping with the style of the school and SI's are not encouraged.


Many who have tried to express their concerns are not well received. It's discouraging but perhaps change is coming.

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I am sorry that they are not accepting your input...that is too bad.


It could be that the teachers too, are frustrated by the lack of piano music....is there one teacher whom you all feel would be understanding, and might be able to shed some light on the situation or, even better, might be able herself to bring these concerns to the administration??

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Yes, most, if not all, of the teacher's are approachable and that may be a good start. There is however a hesitation on the part of the teacher's to discuss things such as this with parents. It seems to be an unwritten rule for ALL parents. (I know it's not just me thank goodness!)


I will see if anyone wants to attempt to discuss this with one of the teachers. It's a good suggestion, thanks!


One of the teacher's does use students to demonstrate in class and I think she may be the selected/approachable one for this.



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  • 3 weeks later...

It's been a while since you posted this, but I just noticed it, and wanted to comment.


I myself would not be concerned about the lack of a live pianist. They're nice to have, but not necessary for quality instruction. I received excellent ballet training at a school that never had a pianist, and that is pretty much the situation at my daughter's school. The teachers learn to deal with recorded music, and in fact, sometimes this can be less of a distraction than having a pianist who doesn't completely feel what the teacher is trying to do.


However, demonstration is key, so I think you should discuss with the teacher (or studio owner if this occurs in more than one class). I was struck by your comment that they shout instruction over the music. Not good!

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knock knock -


Is it not the case that as pupils get more advanced they are expected to do (familiar) steps from names alone, rather than visual demonstration? Could this be happening here? At 13+ aren't they expected to be at this level?


I guess not, as the teachers replying have not mentioned it, but I'd still be interested to hear the answer.



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Jim, I got the impression she meant for corrections, rather than calling the combinations, but perhaps I'm wrong.

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As a teacher, I do think that as of a certain age / ability level the dancers should be able to do more without precise demonstrations.


In fact, looking back, I don't think I had teachers who really demonstrated anything after I was about 11 or so. (with their hands and words, yes! but not "full out" by any means! )


On the other hand, I was lucky enough to get to watch professional dancers rather often, also in training, so that was helpful.


Doesn't this also happen in sports at school?



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:bash: Hmmmm my opinion on this one seems to be different than most of what I am reading. I think that the demonstrations are very necessary. How can you ask a class full of students to do something properly if you are just 'shouting over the music' in class, and then the teacher gets frustrated??


Who is paying the tuition for your kids to dance? I feel that every parent has the right to question this type of activity...especially since the point was made that it is going down-hill from what it used to be! For a parent of a kid in this studio, you should at least have an answer as to why there are not many pianists anymore. Plain and simple, is it because of budget, or this, or that, or what?


We put our trust in the schools our kids attend to make sure the training is not only a safe environment, but also enriching, and correct instruction. Just that mental image of the teacher having to yell over the music is appalling to me. :giveup:


Also the whole demonstration process I feel is vital to both the recreational studios as well as the pre-professional studios. Whenever I have observed classes at the higher level at a major ballet company, they demonstrate! They tell you what they want to see, show it and then give individual corrections as the teacher is moving about the room.


Letting a student demonstrate for all your instruction? I feel that is bad on many accounts. It singles out the student as 'teachers favorite' and we all know how that goes! Also what if the student is not doing things exactly correctly? Then what?


My last words are that if the teacher is incapable, or simply does not want to demonstrate what they want to see, and stands at the front of the class shouting over the music...it may be time to re-evaluate that particular studio. Just my opinion of course!!

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In my daughters ballet studio, the girls in the classes she is in have been in ballet for years, enough to know the steps being taught. The instructor does not shout over the music, she demonstrates mostly with her hands and has the class go through the "combination" before she has them do it to the music. If after a few times, the class is still not getting the steps, she will demonstrate more fully. Then they go through it repeatedly, usually they get it by the end.

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:shrug: Hi again - I wanted to clarify something that may have been mis-understood when I am talking about 'teacher demonstration' in class. During the barre our instructors do not necessarily demonstrate want they want to see and are expecting. They talk about what the barre combination will be, and sometimes they mark it very quickly by simply going over verbally what they want to see and then the pianist starts.


It is during center work that they do not necessarily 'demonstrate full out' by dancing the whole thing themselves, but they choreograph it in thier mind, then they mark it by stepping thru the combination (sometimes changing it along the way) as the students hear verbally what the steps are, and then they are expected to remember the combination at this point, and then they mark it once to music quickly and then the students do the required combination as the teacher corrects as necessary.


The way that Tiny Dancer was stating what is going on at their studio sounds much different. She wrote: >>>"The teacher or teachers typically stand in the front of the room yelling over the music, and looking displeased with the group as a whole." <<<


A teacher at the front, verbally yelling over the music with no marking or obvious sign of what they want to see in the combination, and then being totally frustrated with the students would be frustrating to me as a parent as well.


By our instructors marking it with the flow and grace, or the energy and sharpness, or whatever...it is a visual example of what they expect the students to do as they learn and complete very difficult combinations across the floor. Our students at the higher levels are continually been thrown very difficult combinations at every class they attend. In my daughter's case it has been wonderful! She and the others really have learned how to "move across the floor" as dancers, as well as it being technically correct. For our Academy this works really well! :)

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