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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Teaching Adult ballet class for the first time


GretchenStar

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I'll be subbing once a week for a (very) popular teacher at our studio. It's an intermediate/adult class, though there are some advanced pre-pro students who also take the class (though since most of them will be at summer intensives, there probably won't be too many of them in class).

 

The teacher who usually teaches the class gives a very stylized class (unique choreography, very dance-y). I'm trying to decide if I should give a class like his (I normally take that class so I am very familiar with the types of steps he gives, the corrections, etc). Or if I should give a more traditional class (which is more along the lines of the director's classes). Or something in between (which I originally planned on doing).

 

If it were me, I would probably want the same style of class (since I also take other teachers' classes anyway, some which are more technical or theoretical). I will talk to the director before the first class (to see what she was planning/expecting when she asked me to sub), but I was just curious to see what everyone else would prefer.

 

On top of that, it'll be my first time teaching. I mean, actual teaching. My past experiences: one time when I "taught" a Ballet 2 level class- 8 yrs olds- the director had to do something so she wrote down the combinations I was to give; a couple of times in college when the teacher was absent on last-minute's notice and I made up combinations; giving warm-up class before tech rehearsal (which only involved making up the combinations, not actually correcting). I've also assisted in some beginning ballet classes (though they were kids' classes), giving corrections, etc. But this will be the first time I will be running the class - the directors think I am competent enough to do this (I think one director will be watching the first few classes to give me some feedback).

 

It's a drop-in class, though most of the students come every week. Some know who I am (I've taken that class for the past 3 years and am often asked to demonstrate steps) but some do not. I supposed I will have to "introduce" myself at the beginning of the first class (something brief, before we start, like my name and that I'll be teaching the class over the summer, particularly for those who don't know me). Do I mention it's my first time teaching?

 

One issue that I will NOT have to worry about - the music. We have a wonderful pianist who plays for that class and he is super.

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What a timely post!! I find myself in the same boat. Our director's daughter is due to have a baby the first week of September when classes begin again, and the Director asked if I would mind subbing for her in the Advanced class when the baby comes. It is a class I take regularly, and most of the other students are in high school.

 

She thinks it would be better if I teach rather than one of the other students trying to maintain a class of her peers.

 

I actually studied Ballet Pedagogy in college, but this has me a little excited and rattled all at once.

 

My issue has always been the music, but i'm sure it's easier now than when we had the 33 1/3 LP's with the adjustable turntable!! ha ha ha

But I need to start listening to the music to get it straight.

 

As for what type of class to teach, I would say be yourself and teach what you know! At least that's my plan....Good luck to you!

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I'd like to add my two cents although there is a thread on Teachers' forum, if you don't mind.

 

I'd say that do what you had decided to do; you can't be the other teacher even if you followed his "style" and every time I have a new teacher as a sub, I always expect that they have their own way and vision no matter how much I like (or dislike) my regular teacher. :yes:

 

I take a class where sometimes one of the "students" (who actually is a teacher) subs and I thought at first that it would be very weird. I guess my memories were from school years when it always was embarrassing if you ended up being taught by one of your classmates who just last week was at the same "level" with you... But then I realized that we are adults now :hyper: and it doesn't matter who is teaching you. I think your plan of introducing yourself etc sounds good, because then you are really being the teacher and not just one of their classmates who happens to act one over the summer. If you also ask the director what she has been thinking, you feel more secure, as you said.

 

I guess I wouldn't tell it's my first time (or that I usually take the class, not teach) because I like the feeling that I can trust my teacher that she knows what she's doing. Of course almost every teacher needs some time to think "well, what had I thought for you for today...ummm...let's see..." but if I were you, I'd just act that I know what I'm doing. Usually it helps you to really know what you are doing. :hyper:

You are so lucky to have your own pianist!!

 

Good luck! :hyper:

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My feeling - as an adult student - though I take less advanced classes than you are going to teach - is that every teacher has their own special strengths and, although the students may love their current teacher (and you could not replace him), students might welcome a teacher who has different points of emphasis and who picks out aspects that the normal teacher, wonderful though he/she may be, does not pick up on. I suggest that, although you maybe go a bit in the direction of the normal teacher's style (which is what the class likes, that is why they are there), you be true to yourself, and in the class give what YOU think is important. Doing this with energy, commitment, charm and presentation (vocab runs out, you get the idea) will get your own special strengths across maximally. Which, in the end, is what you will be communicating.

 

Also I find I take a couple of classes to switch on to a teachers style and strengths, so if most people are like me, you might have to battle through for a bit.

 

Confidence, being organised and having everything properly planned are all essential.

 

I hope this makes sense.

 

Jim.

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This is timely for me as well. I may be teaching my first official class tomorrow night. I've been thinking about it for days.

 

A couple things to keep in mind:

 

1) Lots of regulars skip class when they know the normal teacher is going to be gone. Expect a low turn out.

 

2) No one expects you to be the normal teacher, so, don't try to be. If they have set routines at barre, incorporate some of those to keep a comfort level. Past that, go your own way.

 

The class I might teach usually has a very set barre. I've decided to give a basic class, focusing on placement and fundamentals. I'll use some of their regular barre to help illustrate my pointe, but the rest of the class will be mine, culled from years of taking notes from other teachers. I'm taking the level of the class down several notches. First of all, it will be well within my comfort level as a first time teacher. Secondly, it will allow me to better focus on the things I'm strong at communicating to others, proper placement, hwo to use the floor, etc. It will also allow me to roam the room to do hands-on corrections, something this class is not at all used to.

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Thanks for everyone's replies. I'm scouring the Teachers' forum for similar topics (I remember reading some a few days ago, but it'll be helpful to re-read them).

 

I definitely won't be trying to be the "regular" teacher - I would be a very disappointing imitation :yes: I also am not expecting a high turnout since even when the regular teacher teaches, there may be as few as 2 or 3 "adult dancers" (the rest are the pre-pro crowd who won't be there in the summer).

 

So, I'll stick with my original plan of mixing the style of the regular teacher with some more traditional steps. At least I have some idea of the level of the dancers in the class and will stick with what they know. We'll see how it goes...

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Just an update - I taught my first class last night. I think it went well (from the feedback I got), though there are some things that I noticed - like how I talk fast (a bit of a nervous habit) and I showed the combinations at a faster tempo - luckily our pianist knew to slow down.

 

Also, we ended 5 minutes early (though we did start only 5 minutes late - our studio isn't big on starting class on time, and that class usually starts 5 to 10 minutes late). I did give some corrections (more in the center than at barre), and the majority of the corrections were arms. I also had some of the students show steps or stuff they were doing well.

 

Thanks again for everyone's suggestions!

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