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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Need Some Advice


skyish

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I'm coming to realize that my ballet school is turning into a "ballet company". I'll give you a brief history.

 

I did ballet as a kid, quit when I was 12, I'd never had pointe education and restarted when I was 20. I tried 2 studios, and saw many other before this one, and none of them was good.

 

Then as a miracle I have found my current studio, in my second month that I have restarted, and felt like it was heaven. Because the education given there was miraculously good. That year I got a solo on pointe for the spring performance, it was nothing difficult, but it is still hard to believe that my teacher raised a soloist from "zero". But I had to quit in December 2007 since I moved to France. Then I came back this year to find out that my ballet school has lost its "school" attributes.

 

First of all, I've come to realize that everybody quit "learning ballet" and they started a jealousy, ambition fight to get solos for the performance. To get a solo, sadly, you need to be close to the teacher. No matter what degree of talent you may have, even if you are not able to go on pointe correctly, if she likes you, she gives you a solo (that is beyond your abilities), and she gives you private classes, and raises a "dancer" for the performance like she did to me. So if she likes you, you can improve quickly within months. But what if she doesn't like you?

 

This is what is happening to me right now. She just watches her 3 favorite students during the class. Corrects them only. Gives combinations according to their abilities. And if you are not able to do those combinations, she likes you less, so the chances for you to get a solo decrease, but she never attempts to teach you anything new. If that pas is new for you, you should go learn it somewhere and then come to class, and if you cannot learn it, you already do not have a place in that school. She is setting unreasonable standards, not just for me, but also for the younger students (13-17), and since everybody is desperate to get a solo, things are getting worse, they are getting excited, desperate, frustrated, and everybody started to stare each other hatefully, so it is not possible to do a single tendu while everybody is wishing that you'd fall and break your ankle.

 

For me, I do not care at all for a solo. I don't even care if I wouldn't be there on the stage doing corps/solo or the lead this year. The matter is, nobody is teaching us anything if it does not exist in the variation that you'll do; so nobody says "Today we will practice pirouettes on pointe"; if you want to be one of the teacher's favorites, you should be able to do it already, and then you will get a solo. But if you do not have a solo, you don't have the chance to learn it. What a paradox.

 

Since September, I've been ending my ballet classes in frustration tears. When ballet is going bad, my whole life starts to go bad. I'm spending a lot of money and a lot of time and so much energy for this studio, and leave apart learning something new, I've started to get demotivated so much that I'm not even able to do the simplest things anymore. I want to look for another studio and another teacher but I'm frightened. Because she is good when she is determined to teach you something, and for the other studios I'm not sure I'd be able to find a teacher like her. But I cannot go on like this. What should I do?

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Sorry, skyish, but she does not sound like a good teacher at all. A good teacher is not only one who knows what she is doing technically. A good teacher teaches the whole class. A good teacher does not gear the class to only certain students and teach only things from their upcoming performance. That is not professional and not ethical. Find another school.

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I believe you already know what to do. Unless you have no other options - that's the only school you have access to - I suggest you to leave your teacher without regrets.

 

:lol: You are just looking for some support from the community in making a transition to a new situation. We are with you!!!

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Sometimes it's less stressful than you anticipate when you change studios. Just make sure that you think really hard about how to do it tactfully, and objectively, and without anger. Imagine what you would advise someone else if they were in your situation.

 

Never burn bridges-the ballet world is a lot smaller than you can imagine. Explore other options before you make the decision, and be prepared for a several month adjustment period. The one thing that you'll notice right away is a profound sense of relief, and a desire to move forward, not backward. You'll have to earn respect in your new studio, and that effort will be rewarded.

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I take classes at three different studios, and I'm looking at a fourth. Basically, I think the studio does not matter to you - only the teacher does. Find a good teacher who will teach you and follow him or her.

 

I do agree about not burning bridges. Most studios have a teacher or a class where you can learn something, so it's not hard to keep taking a class there. But as an adult you must run your your own life, find the teachers you can learn from, and find a way to get classes from that teacher.

 

There are (in my experience) two sides to this. One is that no teacher is perfect, so you might have to take a class from one for what they are good at and find another teacher for what the first one is not good at. The other is that some teachers may be excellent but if they will not teach YOU then they are not useful to you, no matter how good they may be at teaching others. I'm a man, over 60 years old, so I am not unfamiliar with this - I'm not a prime candidate after all! A few teachers will make it clear they are not interested in what possibility I may have; more often a teacher will not bother with corrections (i.e. teaching) for an obviously hopeless case. No matter how good a teacher they are, they are of no use to me.

 

All that said, the really difficult issue is how does a teacher judge your potential? Sometimes it take a long time for a teacher to figure out who you really are. (The same thing applies to friends. Sometimes first impressions are totally wrong! Are there any Lizzie Bennet fans here? :o ) I have seen several cases where a student seemed initially to be totally wrong and the teacher (and sometimes the class!) was not helpful, then after a few months as the student demonstrated their commitment and attention to the corrections, the teacher became a real supporter of the student. Teachers, in spite of having eyes in the back of their heads, are not omniscient and may take some time to figure out what is really going on.

 

A final note just to complicate the issue. I have over the last couple decades come to respect the power of community more and more. If a class is consistently a difficult, combative, mutually aggressive community then it is not going to be good for you. Find a real creative community and you will find students that help and support each other. This is a good learning environment, and you will learn more even if the teacher is marginal than you will from an excellent teacher in a poisonous community. This last paragraph is my own opinion, anyone is free to agree or not, but it has been a good guide for me.

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Another vote for not burning bridges.

Start by substituting a class here and there with visits to other studios until you find one you want to make repeat visits to.

Think of yourself as a freelance student. You are really. You are paying to be taught. Work yourself into regular attendance somewhere before you give up your old studio at least.

As you have seen in your time away, time changes things. You may want to go back there sometime after phasing them out for now. You may also find several places you like to go.

Adult students come and go from different programs. We have to stop dancing for periods of time for illness or injury or family issues, but we keep coming back. That is why we like class cards rather than paying by semesters.

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Hi,

 

I'm so happy that I need to share this. I've almost accidentally found a studio where I can take private classes (not really one-o-one, I decided to take the classes with my best friend (who also had the same problems with our teacher) from my current studio so we are a group of 2.) and today we had a tryout with the teacher. At the end of the class, I was able to say only one thing: "Oh my God, ballet is so difficult!!!". Because all these years, I've been doing barre so easily, of course it was hard, of course my muscles were aching, of course I was getting sweaty, achy, exhausted after a class. But ballet was harder than I thought all this time, and I wasn't aware of this.

 

Apparently I was not able to use my turn out properly. And nobody paid attention to that before. I'm actually a little frustrated, it shows that I was not having a proper education at all! And the downside ( :) ) of working with a male teacher (this is my second male teacher to take private classes from); at the end of the class he just killed me with endless sautés, changements, echappés... =P I guess I'm gonna be a great jumper by the end of this term...And yes, I did not burn the bridges. I'm going to do my best to keep both studios. But it may be challenging financially. I guess I will drop the old one if I get broke... Because it is more than great to have course with a group of 2 instead of 10.

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I wonder if you could benefit by (tactfully) slipping the truth about your wishes and frustrations to the "old" teacher? Maybe she could see that she is losing her students' esteem and interest...

 

But I would avoid at all costs being confrontational, of course... And burning bridges isn't wise!

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