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Ballet Talk for Dancers

September Whine....?


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I'm not sure if my post belongs here, but I guess it does, since it's a whine/complaint about balletclass.


My regular teacher is on maternity leave, delivered a very beautiful and cute girl several weeks ago. So, we needed a substitute. Well, found one and this teacher is teaching quite some years, has her own balletschool and had some girls training up to RAD Adv. 2 and pass this exam. She took over some classes in May/June and I already felt that I wasn't comfortable in her class.


First, let me say that I passed RAD Adv. 1 several years ago, but have been out a couple of times due to injuries and financial reasons. I got the oppurtunity to take balletclasses at an international school as outerschool-activity. 2 years ago, we had quite a big group of varying levels (because otherwise school wouldn't allow it and classes wouldn't fit in schedule), having inter. f. (2), inter. (1), adv. f. (2) and adv. 1 (2, 1 being me, the other one taking the exam). Ages also varied, me being the oldest (now 24). At the start of 2007-2008, all of the girls had left, except for the 2 inter. f. girls. We have a huge difference in age (them being now 13) and it took a while to get used to each other. We mainly did classes at adv. 1/adv. 2 level, with exercises for them being modified (i.e. no extra demi-pointe in barre exercises, non-beaten jumps where I had to beat them, them trying doubles with me trying triples, etc.)


We grew quite close to each other and respect each other. Well, in May/June, I already felt being ignored in class by the substitute. She was also referring to the other girls as 'the little ones' (them being 13) and approached them as if they weren't able to do quite a lot of steps that they already started to learn or even mastered already.


So, back to the start of this year. My main teacher informed me that this substitute was supposed to only do the first one or two classes and that we would get the same substitute that took over another day.


Well, apparently, substitute thought differently about this and I found out that she is teaching untill my regular teacher comes back from maternity leave. First class, I felt really out of place. She acted as if I was invisible. Next week, class started with just me. The other girl was late, because she came back from camping with her year. So, we started off doing Adv. 2 in class. When the other girl joined, she went straight back to Inter. Although we (the other 2 girls and me) have tried to tell her several times (also in May/June last year) that they can do more than inter, she teaches them if they're not capable of doing some stuff at all.


So, the week after, I had hurt my arm the day before class and wasn't motivated to go to class at all. This is really not me, I'm always motivated to go to ballet, no matter what's going on! (I even went to ballet when there was a weather-alarm due to a bad storm for Dutch references). I also was demotivated when finishing class and was waiting for class to end, whereas I normally regret that it's time (we have 2-hour classes).


So, last Friday, I went up to this substitute and asked why she treated me this way, because I really felt like I was wasting the money that I work for (36 hours a week + studies). She told me that she understood that I was training for adv. 2. I agree, but I'm no way up to taking the exam yet (I guess it's gonna take a couple of years still) and asked her why not correct me, although I'm on a higher level than the other 2, because I'm absolutely not perfect at a lot of things (I'm really aware of that). Her argument: she told me that she is not able to correct me in front of the two other girls (the two 13 year-old girls). When I asked her what she meant by saying that, she said she couldn't explain to me, because I wouldn't understand.


This really upsets me. You pay for balletclasses, get treated really rude and she plainly refuses to teach me (by her argument and treating me as if invisible). I also just don't understand her way of acting.


So, now I'm temporarily quitting at that school, untill my regular teacher will be back from maternity leave. I have found a 45 minute balletclass at the university sports centre.....I know, in no way compared to a good 2-hour class, but at least it's something. Level is quite mixed. Although it's advertised for as for students with knowledge of ballet or the very motivated beginner, some students are utter beginners. Nothing wrong with that, it's a nice oppurtunity for them to get familiar with ballet and the teacher allows me to sometimes modify exercises. I also have contact with another close-by RAD-teacher, but still need an answer back. So, it's not completely off the ballettrack (I wouldn't want to after the last couple of years with ballet-no ballet-ballet-no ballet-ballet-no ballet-etc.).


So now I hope that I can join the other balletschool and of course that when the time is ready, my teacher will return.


Sorry about the lengthy post, I just wanted to share (and rant)



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I understand your feelings. I have some more experience than a lot of the kids/teens/adults I take class with and often do get passed over for some corrections that I KNOW I could use.


What I'd recommend is letting the owner of the studio know what's happening. If it's happening in your class, it might be happening in others.


Subs, in my experience, prefer to err on the side of caution and not throw too much at a class they really don't know well. I know when I subbed I would rather go simple and correct than complicated and wrong, if you know what I mean. Although she's been with your class for longer than a few weeks, she still might be cautious about putting in too much at once.


But the way she's treating you is not acceptable. I would recommend telling the owner how you feel about how you are treated in class.

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I did let my regular teacher know and she doesn't accept it. I also have an e-mail ready for the school....I'm going to sign off temporarily and don't want to pay for October until teacher comes back. I think this is the best solution for all parties at the moment and I'm happier not going to that class at the moment....There's not really a studio owner to let it know, since it's an outer-school activity at an international school. There is someone responsible for the outer-school activities though and he will be receiving my e-mail tomorrow!


When I had the conversation with the sub, she said that she couldn't teach classes with huge differences in technique. She plainly disagrees with this practise (therefore in my opinion saying that she disagrees with how my regular teacher teaches, but I can see the difference in the 2 younger girls). However, we're used to it and otherwise none of us would have class (I believe a minimum of three students is asked on a year bases....). I don't care taking lower level classes, I do it a lot of the time. But don't ignore me because you 'think I'm training for level such and such and therefore don't need corrections', because that's just not true, i.e. I also manage to turn in my extension and show a crappy attitude at times!


She also told me that different teachers teach in a different way. Well, I respect that. I've been with enough balletteachers in school, masterclasses, summerschools and eastercourses to know that. I respect that no teacher teaches the same way. But I don't respect that a teacher thinks to get away with it to ignore somebody in a class of 3! I mean, in a class of 20-25, it's harder to get enough individual attention, but in a class of 3. I had the feeling Friday that I could stand upside down and still get no comments!


Other classes at school don't have such a level-difference. However, I do know that the group that takes class right before us is not very happy with her either, same as my groupmates. They know how to do a backbend properly. Have been doing them a lot last year. One of my groupmates told me outside of the classroom just before class that they had learned how to do a back bend.....my answer to her in a funny way with big eyes: 'I'm impressed'. She had to laugh really hard! That were exactly their feelings.


Oh well, teacher said she has officially 8 weeks left of maternity leave, we'll see when I can restart at that school again!



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