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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Lament from a sad man


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In the last two years I've been very lucky to have been able to take classes with one of those wonderful old-school teachers - though she's so fierce that many schools have banned her from teaching the little ones, once you get to know her you realise that everything stems entirely from her enormous passion and commitment to ballet, and her desire for the highest standards - qualities that made her such an outstanding principal dancer in her time. A person with eyes in the back of her head, who can spot an underused muscle from 100 yards, a wonderful mimic of body language - and with a sharp tongue to match. Now, at 70, with arthritis setting in, class sizes falling (she can't afford to advertise), and studio fees rising, she is going to call it a day.


Though we sort-of knew it was coming, it was a bit of a shock, but also a shock to realise that I might never cross paths with my class-mates again. Although none of them are or would be personal friends, somehow being in class with some lovely dancers, who I watch all the time in the hope that their body language will subconsciously influence mine (I think it does: it certainly makes me FEEL I'm moving better, and I hope some of that rubs off into actual improvement) makes a special bond.


I'm still doing my other classes, and now have the opportunity to look for one more ... but still... I suppose this happens to everyone here all the time, but I just thought I'd express myself ... now I've just got to go and gird my loins, and get on. But thanks for your attention.


And best wishes to you all for the Festive Season (isn't that what you call it?).



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I know how you feel, Jim - I was four months pregnant with my first son when my special dancing master retired. I retired temporarily with him! No-one else seemed able to take his place for me after him and it wasn't worth the hassle of trying to find someone during the seven years of baby raising that followed. I did start classes again, of course, can't live without them really(!) but have never quite found the same joy in another teacher's classes. I do however know someone who actually took over his class exercise books and eventually became a well sought after master himself in his own right. He has been giving master classes here for the last few years. When I'm there watching my students in class with him, he'll often put in an "Errol" step just for me and we reminisce together as only those who have shared the same experiences can.

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jimpickles, I too can understand when you lose a special teacher, whether from retirement, or when the pass away. My first ballet teacher sounds a lot like the one you are describing. Very strict, but just made you want to work! Not everyone could handle his demeanor, but those that did, learned a lot. Best wishes to you in your continuation of ballet classes. :nixweiss:

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  • 2 weeks later...



Your description of your teacher sounded so much like you were describing mine, I had to look at your location to make sure we weren't talking about the same person!


Mine is also past 70, but wants to continue teaching for a few years more. In July, she lost the lease on the space the studio had been in for 17 years. Ever since she has been teaching in rented studios, but without a fixed, permanent location is losing students. The collective fan base of enthusiastic adult students has been doing everything possible to improve the situation before she gets involuntarily retired due to economic reality.


Updates as things change...

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