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Adult classes - adults only?


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I am wondering if the adult classes where you take lessons is limited to adults only? Over the past few years, more and more of the pre-pro kids at our studio are taking the adult classes (we have some in the morning and some in the evening) - this is in addition to the regular classes they take.


One of the main reasons why they take the classes is because they enjoy taking class from the teacher (which is understandable, but the teacher does teach several regular non-adult classes during the week, which these pre-pro kids do take). It's not because they don't have enough classes of their own to take (some of them end up taking 2 or 3 technique classes a day, 6 days a week). Over the summer, the studio changed its policy and now the class schedule says "18+" next to Adult Intermediate (or Adult Beginning). This change was apparently because the adults complained about the pre-pro kids taking their class.


I feel that the dynamic of the class changes when the pre-pro kids take the adult class. The pre-pro kids stand in the front or go in the first group, they get the corrections, etc. The teacher does try to correct everyone (and not just focus on pre-pro) but the pre-pros do tend to dominate the class.


I taught one of the adult classes during the summer and for the most part, there were no pre-pro student. But now that the regular ballet season has started back up, and the pre-pros have returned from the summer programs, the number of adults in the adult class has gone back down.


So I'm wondering (just out of curiosity, since I'm not the person making these decisions) - should the adult class be adult only? I feel there's a correlation between the increase of pre-pro dancers taking the adult classes and the decline in adult attendance. Or is it basically anyone who wants to take that class can (which would then be more like an "open" class)? Personally, for me, I would rather not have pre-pro (teen) dancers taking the adult class. I want to be able to have a nice class in a somewhat relaxed environment (where you don't have to do long, grueling strength building adagios, be able to concentrate and not be distracted by some hotshot prodigies that think that because this is an adult class, they can talk and goof off, wear junk (which they are not allowed to do in their regular classes). But maybe that's just me...

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The class I take is Teen/Adult Ballet II. The only people in my classes are older teens and adults that either began taking ballet at an "untraditional" age and are only in Ballet II or are very mature adults who are getting back into it, usually after twenty odd years off. I would be very discouraged if someone was cross-classing from the intermediate or advanced classes into mine. There are classes for "12-16 year olds" that they fit into better. I'm not sure if it's school policy not to let these girls take our adult classes, or if it's just good etiquette on thier part. Whichever it is, I am happy not having pre-pros dominating the class!

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In our program pre-pro kids that are at least at the Intermediate level (level 5 & up) are allowed to take the open adult class if there is room. They must, however, be respectful and allow the adults to go first (teens are to stand in the back during center etc.), unless the adults specifically ask them to move up or go first. So teens are not supposed to dominate, and there's certainly no goofing off. Generallly it works out pretty well--it was only on a few occasions that I felt there were so many pre-pros that it changed the dynamics. The teacher does not teach to the kids' level, but teaches to the adult level.

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Where I go, the upper-level teens are permitted to take adult classes, but do so during the school year only very rarely (e.g., as a makeup if they can't go to their regular classes). During the summer, they have no classes of their own, and so they come in for adult class when they are not at SIs.


The summer classes with teens definitely have a different vibe, and for the most part I like it. The teachers only cater to them to a limited degree (and one teacher was actually surprised when I pointed out certain things that were different in summer classes), and they are _generally_ quite well-behaved. Both teen and adult classes appear to operate with the "rotating line" system, so they are used to that. There were a few younger ones this summer who were a little less well-behaved, but I chalked that up to a general lack of maturity. Had the less-than-ideal behavior persisted for long, I would've had a word with the AD or some such, and I'm sure the problem would've been handled in a very appropriate way. So, I find it energizing to have them in class sometimes, though I might feel differently if the classes were perpetually "dominated" by them.

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Aspects of this topic I find very interesting, mainly because I’m obsessed about learning why adult dancers (whether ballet or any other style) seem to drop out so frequently.


I have noticed that where there are intact classes of adults (i.e., overwhelmingly people over say age 25) those classes tend to remain intact over the years, at least for a few years. Nevertheless, people do seem to drop out eventually. It is just the drop out rate seems to be relatively small from year to year.


I’ve taken ballet classes where there have been many teens in the pre-pro program and all have been pretty much as GretchenStar described. But all of the adults I’ve spoken to who have been in those classes have pretty much expressed the same opinion. We generally enjoy having them in class, like watching them, and learn from them both by observing what they do and internalizing for ourselves the corrections they get. Of course, my talking with these adults has been strictly informal and what I say probably reflects my own biases.


Personally, I loved taking class with people who were much better than me. Yep, the whole class was geared to them and essentially they got all the corrections. The class was 80% pros, teachers, and pre-pros. As to corrections, you know that almost every correction given certainly also applied to you. And all those good people provide excellent models to copy. Amazing how much better you danced when sandwiched between two pros.

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I’ve taken ballet classes where there have been many teens in the pre-pro program and all have been pretty much as GretchenStar described. But all of the adults I’ve spoken to who have been in those classes have pretty much expressed the same opinion. We generally enjoy having them in class, like watching them, and learn from them both by observing what they do and internalizing for ourselves the corrections they get.


Yes, but you have spoken to adults who have been in those classes, as you say. People who did not like it, would not be there. So you can draw no conclusions from those opinions, really, other than not all adults hate having pre-pro teens in class (which we knew already), as you have no way of really knowing how many did not come knowing it was a mixed class, or how many of those who came and quit after a couple of time quit because of that.


Not saying there necessarily is such people, just playing the pedantic data-analyst kind of person.

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I noticed that the pre-pro teens are more welcome in adult int. or adv. classes. More advanced adults tend not to be as affected. However, the real beginning adults may already feel self conscious and would probably benefit from having an ALL adult, ALL beginner class. In a perfect world, it would be best to keep the adult classes 18 and over. However, more often than not, a person younger than that will take an adult class as a "make up" class, and alot of times, teenagers with no prior experience will be found taking adult beginner classes as that is the only real beginner class available to them. There was a situation at my studio where little kids...yes little kids (age 9) were crashing the adult class which was right after their own class. It got so bad that people really did start complaining about it and that was the end of that. And I agreed that it was a little too much. They are adorable, but, I don't travel a half hour and spend $15 per class so I can feel like I'm at day camp.


The fact of the matter is that attendance is wishy washy amongst adults. So it would be hard to find a class that was closed (meaning a certain amount of people registered at a certain age and level and thats it). So we just have to deal with the mixed bag that we get when we arrive to the studio. And yes...it's always different. It's just the nature of the beast I guess.

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I'd like to share an experience from the other side. Although I'm an adult, professional dancer now, as a teenager at my pre-pro school I frequently took the adult classes for an extra or makeup class (I performed a lot and sometimes missed regular classes). I think the situation can work out well as long as everyone has the same understanding of the purpose of the class. It's an ADULT class, and pre-pro teens are GUESTS. Here are a few of my thoughts.



You, as an adult, need to be clear about what you need in the class. For instance, if you are happier having the pre-pros go first, so you can see the combination again, that's fine. But, if you resent them always going first, don't say "oh, go in front, you've already got it/are a better dancer/ are wearing pointe shoes, etc." You've both paid for the class and are equally important. If you are pushing the younger dancers out in front of you, you have no reason to complain later. Simply take your place as you would in any class.


The reason for taking class is to work on technique, not to show off. So pre-pros need to remember they are there to work, not to upstage older dancers. Conversely, adult students should remember that the pre-pros are not judging them or making fun of them--there is no need to be nervous or shy. Everyone is just there to improve his or her own ballet.


Also, because the younger students are guests, they should stand to the back or side unless the teacher specifically asks for lines to rotate or asks them to demonstrate a particular step or correction. They should also follow their own dress code--and if that means wearing plain pink and black while all the adults wear colors and junk, so be it! And of course they should understand class ettiquette already.


OK, so that's the ideal situation. Given that that isn't everyone's experience, I think it is fine to speak to a teacher or AD and explain that the dynamics have changed when there are pre-pro students in adult class. Asking the teacher to remind the younger students that they are the guests, or to speak to them about the new guidelines for taking adult class is perfectly reasonable. Any competent AD should have no problem getting their kids to comply with that kind of policy. I don't think, though, that it's likely or even necessary to completely ban older teenagers from the class.

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Thank you, dancer5 -- you have articulated the ideal situation so very clearly!

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Okay, guess I ned to add my 2 cents!


I feel very fortunate at my school, where I take only adult, begineer classes. For these classes, you can expect to see just about everything - large numbers and small numbers - pre/pros and beginning teens (and younger) - intermediate, advanced, (and occasionally even a professional.)


My instructor makes a solid disclaimer at the beginning of every class - THIS IS A BEGINNER CLASS, AND WILL BE TAUGHT TO THE BEGINNER LEVEL! It sets the tone for everyone in attendance, whether its their first time or they are the occassional diva, that everyone in this class is the same - beginner.


My own personal opinion is that the reposnbility is on the school to take charge of the situation and set the rules right from the start. That way if someone (teen or adult) acts in a contrary manner, the school can deal with it in a professional, courteous manner. In addition, adult students can talk in confidence to the school director about their thoughts, and let the school take whatever action needs to be taken, thereby acknowledging their concern without putitng them in the middle.


Just my 2 cents!

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:shrug: I totally have mixed feelings about this. My class often has pre-pros, and even pro-pros sometimes, and it's totally awesome to watch them doing the same things we're doing, but at this much higher level. I was telling my husband about one truly pro who took our class once, and he couldn't believe it -- he thought it was like going down to the corner for a pickup basketball game and there's Kobe saying he's got next. B)


It does make it less "our" class though, and I'll sometimes I feel bad when my teacher focuses much of her attention on them, to the point where she'll ask one or some of them to repeat a combination by themselves while we're just standing there. I'll think: Hey, I'm here to do not watch, I'd like an extra turn across the floor and I need it more than they do! :thumbsup:


That said, my school is very professionally run, and I never feel like the advanced dancers big-foot it in our class and we old adults tend to hold our ground in the face of all that young talent. :wink:

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Scoop, I empathise with your mixed feelings. During the year, my classes are adult, although sometimes an older teen will attend. In the summer and Easter holidays however, there are classes at the same studio but organised by an individual - mainly because she got sick of the fact that the studio (a publicly funded organisation) doesn't offer classes over the holidays. And they're packed - usually over 20 students. We have some well-known teachers, and a lot of 14-17 yo teens attend, generally on holidays from the major vocational school in this city.


They're well-behaved & wonderful to watch (some of them!) but the teachers do tend to focus corrections on them, and I find this a little irritating. I think it's because various teachers (we have a mix in the summer) work with these children during the year and know them, and don't know all of us. And I also think I probably have my nose put out of joint because in our usual classes I get corrections, and in summer I don't seem to be noticed.


So I do find the presence of children in classes less than ideal, but on the other hand it's lovely watching the couple of very talented ones, and seeing that actually I can dance quite as well as the bulk of the middling 16 year olds.


Also I noticed that back in my usual classes I'm stronger and faster, so the more demanding level of teaching of 16 year olds has paid off for this 47 year old!

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It makes me very uncomfortable having teens in my class, although I'm not completely sure why. Something to do with not minding looking foolish in front of other adults but minding it in front of young people who will certainly be or become much better dancers than me. The trouble is, feeling uneasy affects how I do in class. The teachers also pay more attention to the teens, but that's understandable and less bothersome.

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Thanks for everyone's responses. For me, I'm sort of on both sides of the fence. I take the pre-pro classes but I'm one of the few "adults" in the pre-pro company and do take this adult class once a week. And what is frustrating for me (in the adult class) is that the pre-pro kids don't act as though they are guests in the class. I'm not saying they should be completely meek and try to blend in with the wall, I'm just saying they shouldn't behave as though it is THEIR class and the adults are the guests. It's not to the point where the pre-pro kids are rude - they just don't realize how their behavior might be affecting the class.


And I've noticed (when I taught in the summer) that some adults need a little prodding. I would ask someone to show a step and they would hem and haw about not wanting to show a step, but when I asked "do you really not want to show the step?", they would say "oh... no, I'll show it." So if there are pre-pros all ready to be first in line or to show a step, the adults at our studio would just hang back. Which is why I made it a point to have adults show most of the steps or have them go first, because I know that they are capable but maybe are shy about it.


Another thing is that when adults do take the pre-pro class, many of the pre-pros do laugh about their lack of technique. Not to the point where others notice, but standing in the back waiting for your turn - you do hear people talk. That's obviously an etiquette issue with our studio, so we won't get into that.


At our studio, the adults do tend to push the young ones up front - oh, you know the step, you dance better, etc - so yes, the adults kind of can't complain in that regard. Sometimes I do wish that the other adults would be more ... "agressive" (for lack of a better word), but if they're okay with the way the classes are going, then who am I to complain? I've heard of some adults talk about the classes changing more towards the pre-pro kids (e.g. the class is more difficult because the combinations are geared towards the pre-pros; class being too crowded with the pre-pro kids, esp when it's a school holiday), but I don't have first-hand knowledge of what was said to the director regarding the adult classes to prompt the change in the school policy (by the way, the pre-pro kids are still taking the adult classes, and complaining to each other about how stupid the policy is).


Another thing that happens is that sometimes the pre-pro kids will go 3 or 4 times to the right across the diagonal, while the adults most of the time go only 2x. So then everyone stands there and waits for everyone to finish going to the right, and by that time, class is almost over so we only go 1x to the left. In situations like this, I think it is up to the teacher to put a cap on the # of times you go across the floor (say 2x and then to the left 2x). If the pre-pros (or anyone for that matter) wants to work on the combination over and over, then they should wait until after class. Again, this is more of an etiquette issue, not so much an adult class thing, though...


If only the pre-pro kids could take a step back and look at the situation through the eyes of the adults. Or if they think about how they feel when their class (say level 5) is combined for a day with the level 4 class - they hate it, because they feel like the level 4s take over the class, get all the attention, etc! It's the same situation, but of course, they don't see it as such.

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