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Ballet Talk for Dancers

over-corrected and demoralized


je danse dans ma tete

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hi guys.

 

so my teacher has always corrected me a lot, more than most of the others in my class. i never miss class and always work hard. i always try my best and come to class ready to work, warmed-up and with appropriate attire and hairstyle, no jewelry and little makeup, etc. i try in other words to do the right thing in terms of class etiquette.

 

i like this teacher and loved his classes until very recently. i used to appreciate his individual corrections and feel honored by the personal attention because he does not owe it to me, but now am feeling stressed out by them. Not to mention, i now feel demoralized and tearful in class. he corrects every little thing and calls my name or comes over to me at least once during every combination. others are doing things wrong and he does not seem to even see them, but will call the class around and show them what i am doing wrong. little things sometimes, like the direction of my gaze or the curvature of my fingers, sometimes big things like a sickled foot. last class i almost left, i was so upset. i feel like everyone thinks i am slowing down the class even though i am not the lowest one in terms of technique and ability. a lot of my classmates even tell me that i am graceful and expressive and have strong technique.

 

the teacher does not seem to see that i am trying, just keeps adding corrections on top of corrections. i know i have stronger technique than 75% of my classmates, mainly because they skip so many classes and do not take as many classes per week as i do. now i am confused, i do not know if he is trying to tell me that i am not good enough for this level or what. there are so many new peope in class this semester and that embarrasses me too, as i worry that they might see me as someone in over her head rather than a hard worker. his last class he was very disappointed in me and said so, but i was practically hyperventilating to keep from crying, i was mortified because he was being so incredibly tough on me and letting other people get away with a lot of bad habits. i do not even know how to broach the topic with him. why do you think he corrects me so much? am i over-reacting? i really would appreciate some thoughts. thanks, lauranne

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I have been in classes and felt the same way. What I have been told is the more you are corrected the more potential the teacher believes you have. He /She may feel you have so much potential and wants you to work harder because they feel you can go far. When they start picking on the little things is when they are finding it hard to correct you because you are doing so much right. I know its hard because when you keep getting corrected without much praise can be disheartening but try and take everything you teacher is saying as a helpful criticism. Maybe you are the most talented!!

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It's helpful to look at this situation from a teacher's point of view. Correcting students is a lot of work, and you're not going to do it for those who skip a lot of classes and don't work hard. It's really easy to take their money, and let them dance around and feel happy, without really teaching. Some students resent being corrected, and for them, it's easier to stop correcting them and take their money.

 

If your teacher is correcting you a lot, it's almost certainly because he believes you will respond to the corrections and are doing well with them. If he's expressing diappointment, it's because he believes you have a lot more potential than you're showing today, and he hopes to see you through to it. If he's not correcting the other students, it's probably as you said, they don't come consistently enough to warrant his attention. Remember, being ignored is the worst insult.

 

I would take up this issue with him after class --- tell him you appreciate the attention he's been paying to your dancing, but that you're finding the constant corrections to be demoralizing. If he corrects a little less and gives more affirmation when you're doing things right (which evidently you are quite often), then you will probably feel a lot better about the whole situation. But also try to keep in mind that it's important to see your dancing as objectively as possible, and that means always understanding how you can improve it today.

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I also suggest discussing this with your teacher. No matter how talented and deserving of attention he feels you are, there are only so many corrections a person can keep track of, and gathering the class around to view one of your flaws is humiliating, even though he is probably just trying to get them to see something they all do wrong. Also, although I don't know exactly what your class is like, I wouldn't normally think that a teacher publicly saying s/he is "disappointed" in an adult beginner would be appropriate, as you are doing this recreationally, right?

 

All of this makes me think your teacher may perhaps be relatively new to teaching, or perhaps at least new to teaching adult beginners. I would start the conversation by letting him know how much you appreciate the attention, but that you feel you are unable to remember and consistently apply all of his corrections, and that this has made you feel nervous about doing something wrong.

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I've told teachers I can only work on one correction at a time. That's how my brain works. They do understand. Your teacher must either see some real potential, or you actually listen to his corrections while other students don't. Consider yourself lucky!

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Maybe you should feel flattered. Your teacher is obviously paying really close attention to your performance in class and also feel that you can comprehend and utilise his corrections to improve your dancing. If he is letting others get away with 'bad habits', as you say, maybe he doesn't feel they are worth correcting?

 

Also, my teacher has said before that sometimes she will choose one person to correct even if a lot of others are exhibiting the same fault because she feels that that person is strong and experienced enough to deal with the criticism - whereas others may not be. You said that you dealt well with this teacher's criticisms before; maybe he just feels you're a 'safe' person for him to demonstrate a common correction on?

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you're so lucky !! the worst thing is to be ignored ! :)

however, if you think he's "nagging", then it can be he's just a "bad" teacher - usually a perfectionist who can only see your faults and never the good things

a common problem with ballet teachers, I've found, is that they were asked so much from during their own formation that they tend to strive for perfection in their students !

 

- you could thank him for the corrections, tell him they really help you, but that you also function better if you also get compliments !

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Thanks for all the replies and insights, everyone...

 

I sometimes would like to be ignored, I have never known that feeling so it would be a nice change!

 

some background that might help to understand the situation: This teacher and I get along very well. I really like him as a person. He is very professional and teaches to the highest standards. He was a first soloist and prinipal danseur with several companies and taught all around the world before joining our school. He moved me to his intermediate class in Sept. because he said beginner was too easy for me at that stage. I at first found him really hard as he teaches russian and bournonville style instead of the cecchetti that i am used to but then i started understanding the subtle differences in style, and seeing that the technique was basically the same. everyone in this class was pre-pro as youths but they are almost all older than me now, 28 and above and returning to ballet after 10 or more years.

 

I like being corrected because I want to improve as quickly as possible, but my problem is that I am very shy. He gives me so many corrections every class, the littlest things. I try so very hard and can deal with lot of corrections and apply them right away, usually, but I feel like crying even as a 23 year old because I feel singled out.

 

if this class I correct everything that he told me to last time, he will still find a little something. if i look in the mirror-with my eyes not my whole head- to check the line of my arms and legs, he will snap at me and tell me not to distort my line by wrecking the line of my gaze, for example.

 

if I have that fluid and resistant plie and accompanying ports de bras today, he will correct one silly finger. if I cambre back he will make me go further, if he catches me sickle for one second in retire he comes over and manually corrects my foot. if I do a series of glissage-jete-coupe type steps and move even a little to the side he will come over and hold my shoulders or hips square and make me go over and over aging until I get it right, in front of the class. And I will see people in the mirror who look like they are skiing from side to side.

 

The experienced ladies in my classes say that the teachers are harder on me because they expect more and want to draw out my potential. That sounds odd to me. Making a student break down does just the opposite effect, no? I guess I need a bit of a break. I was thinking of just watching next class and maybe then I could go back refreshed, because otherwise I think I will run away and never return, I am that type of personality unfortunately. I do not want to offend my dear teacher at all, I know he is not trying to be mean or upset me ... but i am upset, and that is a fact. last time i said i can't and he got very mad at me... so maybe i should just watch for a few classes...what do you think?

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Congratulations....

 

If your teacher is picking on the little things, it means you've got the big things tackled. I my opinion your teacher is excited at how well you’re doing and is going into minor clean up stage with you.

 

If you are being overwhelmed with the amount of corrections, talk to you teacher. Let him know that you are shy, and that being singled out to show "right vs. wrong" and having all eyes on you is difficult for you. Let him know that while you appreciate all the corrections, you are having a difficult time implementing them due to the great amount you are receiving.

 

As a teacher myself, I also use student examples. By showing the students what is happening with the one student, it helps them self examine what they are doing as well.

 

I also understand that dancers are perfectionists by nature, and it can be very frustrating not to have the positive pointed out as well as the negative. Just remember, as hard as it is that if you are being "picked on," it is because your teacher sees your potential and how hard you work. :)

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Please, don't feel guilty here. I think there really are 2 conflicting feelings going on here. On the one hand, your teacher may focus on you because you ARE CORRECTABLE. You know, why bother correcting those other ladies if they can't/won't apply them anyway. However, he may also be somewhat unaware of the degree of focus and the extent of the negativity you're feeling. What I'm sure you don't want is to be totally ignored. How can you ever get better? At the same time, NO ONE wants to be picked on. It wasn't fun when you were 5 and it's no more fun now that you're an adult. There's a real balance here that seems to be difficult to find.

 

You shouldn't feel bad that you're uncomfortable in this situation. Since you're close to this teacher, you may try and have a heart to heart. If you feel uncomfortable, you are uncomfortable and there's really no reason to feel guilt, and don't let anyone make you feel that way.

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I don't think sitting and watching classes is the answer. I think a brief, polite talk with your teacher after class is an option worth thinking about. Let him know you are grateful for all he does for you and that you are having a hard time focusing on all of the corrections, but that you would like to work on what he considers your top three to focus on (three as an example). Perhaps also let him know that you don't mind being the example some of the time but that you would prefer not to always be THE example.

 

I've been in class where one student seems to get the lion's share of the attention, and as someone who wants corrections and wasn't getting many, it was annoying for me to be in the class. I felt like I was nothing and not worth correcting.

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My dd is never corrected at her "new" school which bothered me until I found out none of them were ever corrected, which worried me even more! :wink:

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so the concensus seems to be that correction is good, and being over-corrected is far better than ignored! perhaps i am not in such a bad spot after all... i have 3 classes with different teachers this week before i see Mr. X. i am going to try to just do my best as usual, and if i feel the same way even with all of your new perspectives for me, i will try to talk with him without being offfensive in any way. (I am really tired and can feel my English slipping, hope that made sense!) :wink:

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With one of my teachers, she never says its good (even with the good dancers). The only way you know that you are doing something OK (ish), is when she switches to correcting something else.

 

Jim.

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Hi je danse dans ma tete,

 

I rarely post but thought I'd wade in here and add my 2 cents ... By the way, I'm a rubbish adult beginner who craves corrections so no sympathy from me there! - but I know what it's like to get emotional in class over 'little' things like this and even when you know in your grown up head it's silly or non productive to be upset or tearful it does not stop you feeling that way.

 

I think at least half of the anxiety you feel might be caused not just by the corrections themselves, but by the fact that you have over a period of time kept your reactions of being overwhelmed A SECRET - or if you have shown any sign of emotional stress he has not noticed it. This probably makes everything much more emotionally charged for you than it would be otherwise and it has become an 'issue' - a sustained, regular pattern of anxiety - which is a worry in itself! :shrug: - so you need to do something about it because it is clearly starting to overshadow everything else about the class.

 

My advice would be to talk to him, preferably not around a class time, and just be open and honest and matter-of-fact about how this all makes you feel. You don't have to break down in front of him! - and in fact, I don't think you will feel it is such a big deal anyway when you start talking. He should understand that how you feel in class affects how well you dance and how well you can learn, right?! Valid points!

 

It may be that being honest about it with him, will relieve a lot of the pressure and anxiety that has built up due to you saying nothing and just 'taking it' every class in secret. Maybe his corrections will feel totally different once you are both on the same page so to speak.

 

I've written far to much for such for being a BTfD lurker ... anyway hope it works out :)

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