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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ms. Represent


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When I first returned to the dance studio, I was taken aback when my teacher, who looked to be either my age or younger, stood in front of her adult-level class and introduced herself as Ms. Represent (okay, I'm substituting "Represent" for her real name, y'all know that, right?). I was actually roundly corrected by the AD when one time I asked if Jane (Ms. Represent's first name) was teaching one particular night. Ms. AD gave me a look, then corrected me with a loud, "Ms. Represent (with emphasis) is out sick tonight, but Ms. Demeanor is subbing for her."

 

I gotta tell you all, as an American, I'm a little uncomfortable addressing my same-age or younger teachers this way. I have no trouble calling the AD "Ms. AD" since she is obviously older and plenty distinguished, plus when I do see her she is usually surrounded by kids and teenage dancers. Gotta set a good example for them, this I know.

 

But with Ms. Represent and Ms. Demeanor, I see them when it's late at night (classes at 8:30 pm on a weeknight) and it's just us grown-ups. Now the situation has ended up being a like the situation with my mother-in-law. I don't know what to call her so I don't call her anything at all.

 

Any of you guys feel the same way? :yes:

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At our studio adult students call teachers by their first names. But then, so do the older teens. Younger students have been brought up on the "Ms. First Name" model, and I'm not sure if they will keep to that or switch to first name alone.

 

I side with you on this one.

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At the two places where I most frequently take classes, those up to age 18 / high school graduation are expected to use Ms/Mr. Adults use first names. The kids who come back from college say that it's a bit odd to make the transition to first names.

 

The practice also seems to be that adults (eg adult students) speaking with the under-18 set about teachers use Ms/Mr.

 

I'd think it a bit odd to use Ms./Mr. with my own teachers, but then I tend to go with the idea that people should be addressed as they wish to be addressed, within reason.

 

PS. As for the mother-in-law--some families resolve this sticky problem by using nicknames for the in-laws/grandparents. My own parents encourage their sons-in-law to use the first name from the get-go (or, uh, at least once the guys were fiances rather than boyfriends).

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The teachers my age or younger I called by their first name. The AD was "Ms First Name", though to be honest, I tried my best to not have to address her by name, or just said "ma'am", as although she was much older then me, and distinguished, "Ms. First Name" is kind of weird as an adult, I'd actually be more comfortable with "Ms. Last Name". I always called her "Ms. First Name" when talking about her TO the kids I was in class with, I never side stepped it and tried to avoid her name- that was much more natural then to her directly.

 

I think the reason I had so much problem with Ms. First name is that the ONLY time I've ever called an adult by their first name, or been called by Ms. My First name is in a pre-school. As a school age child, and an adult- it's always been Ms. Last Name.

 

Edit to add: The teachers in their 20s were refered to by their first name by the kids as well, not just me. That was what they requested.

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I'm on a first name-basis with my teachers, but if the rules of my school were any different I'd be fine with that.

 

I think formal address is not primarily about age, but about a certain distance and politeness.

 

For instance: if you would have a business appointment with someone and his or her secretary is behind the reception desk, regardless of her age you'd address her with "ms." , right?

Even if you just heard someone else call her Polly, it obviously wouldn't be appropriate to just say "Yo Polly! How 'bout my appointment?"! :yes:

Now of course you feel more familiar to your ballet teacher than some random secretary you've never met, but my point is that "ms." doesn't necessarily or even primarily refer to an older person: it's just a way of keeping a polite distance to someone.

Either because it's a stranger and you have no business approaching them any more intimately, or just because it's someone you respect not only as a person but also as an authority. In this case: an authority on ballet and an authority in class.

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I think this is actually a pretty complicated question.

 

It's a matter of status and power. It's going to be different in different countries. In America, where you call your bosses and professors by their first names, it is odd to call your ballet teacher Ms. something.

 

I call my teachers by their first names, except for one male older teacher whom everyone call Mr X, so I also call him Mr X. But it's just a label. My respect for the teachers do not diminish or grow depending on what I call them.

 

However, Ballet is a very hierarchical field. Almost like the military in terms of discipline, uniformity and resistance to change. And I doubt this will change anytime soon, so it's probably just easier to go with the flow, and call your teacher by Ms Represent if that's what she likes.

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I go by my first name as a teacher. In every company I've worked for, it's first names all around. But she has a right to be addressed as she wishes. In fact, if she is younger, she may feel she needs the last name just to emphasize that she IS the teacher. It sounds like it is also a studio custom. And just because she's young doesn't mean she isn't experienced, ballet dancers tend to accomplish a lot by their mid 20s if they are any good.

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My ballet teachers have all introduced themselves by their first name, and operated on a first name basis. If, however, they had purposely introduced themselves as Mr or Miss Whatever (as your teacher did), then I would know that they preferred that form of address, and would call them Miss or Mr.

 

I don't really think it's appropriate to make it an age issue. If I'm teaching a group of students, and there's also a mature student in the class who is older than me, the mature student doesn't get to call me by my first name simply because they're older than me. That would be completely disrespectful to my position and authority.

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I've never had a ballet instructor that wasn't younger than I, several significantly. Some of them so much younger, for all I know they may not have been accustomed to calling a man so much older than them by his first name!

 

I'm completely comfortable following the protocols of the environment. Classical ballet is based in traditions and some schools interpret and implement traditions in different ways and more rigid than others. All of the schools I have attended have been first name between adults but I would have absolutely no problem addressing my instructor as Ms. or Mr. if that was the expectation of the school. Whether I use a formal address or first name will very unlikely influence the respect I have for an instructor, but I think I should show respect for the protocols of the school. If I ran into an instructor socially outside the studio, I would most likely switch to first name.

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This thread does make me laugh! As an adult student in with teens and youngers, *I* was being addressed as Ms. Serendipity as well as the teacher being addressed so. I had to correct the youngers to let them know I'm just another student in the class and so they should only use the first name for me. *grin*

 

I make it a point to address my teachers, who are mostly half my age, btw, as Ms. First-Name as I feel they deserve such respect. It's not at all an age issue. I feel, too, that when the youngers in the class see me addressing my teacher AS my teacher, and not a contemporary, so to speak, it sets them up for more seriousness in class, because they see that I really AM just a student in the class. Not sure that makes any sense....more like being an example to them.

 

Outside of class, it's first names all around, though. And when I speak to other teachers about mine (e.g. to Ms. Monday Night teacher about Ms. Wednesday Night teacher), I use only the first name.

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I read some article somewhere once that a "respectable dance teacher would never be addressed as anything less than Madame ________ or Maestro __________." I think it was several decades old, passed down to me by a loving old teacher as I embarked on opening my own school. Anyway, I laughed so hard. Nothing would embarrass me more than being referred to as Madame, let alone Ms., as most younger students make the mistake of turning Ms. into Mrs., and I'm adamantly single. Much better that they call me by my first name, or "Miss" and then the first name than open a can of worms by explaining that I do have children, but am unmarried—thank you. And of the many, many, many teachers I've encountered in my training I can only recall one whom students referred to by something other than her first name.

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Dancesmith is right, the etiquette is ruled by the custom of the place. Default form of address is "Ms./Mr. Last Name" unless or until you are told otherwise. "Madame" and "Maestro" are really kind of quaint these days, with the latter being reserved to conductors, or in reference to THE Maestro, Enrico Cecchetti.

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lavendergrl said: Nothing would embarrass me more than being referred to as Madame, let alone Ms., as most younger students make the mistake of turning Ms. into Mrs., and I'm adamantly single. Much better that they call me by my first name, or "Miss"...

 

I really believe part of this is cultural too. Americans just aren't used to calling fellow adults "Ms. Represent" or "Mr. Ee." There are exceptions of course (our doctors, the judge deciding our traffic violation, the teachers of our kids, president of the United States, etc.) but for the most part, we American grown-ups call each other by our first names.

 

Mel Johnson wrote: the etiquette is ruled by the custom of the place.

 

Mel, you are absolutely right. And in this case, the place is...the United States of America. From my (adult student's) point-of-view and with the notable exceptions I've mentioned above, I just can't get myself to call fellow grown-ups Miss Lastname or Mr. Lastname, dance studio traditions notwithstanding. But I can't call my teachers by their first names either ('cause some of them really intimidate me), hence the occurrence of the Mother-In-Law Situation.

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hence the occurrence of the Mother-In-Law Situation.

 

Funny little off-topic story...

 

When my parents were engaged, my paternal grandmother (who was a tough cookie) told my mother: "Call me whatever you like -- call me [Mary] or call me [Mrs. Smith] or call me Mom. Just don't call me 'hey you.'"

 

Sometimes the best convention is just to relate politely to one another... though I wouldn't suggest that you call your ballet teacher Mom!

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