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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Private Classes


library lady

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My daughter met with a well-known private instructor, who was very interested in taking her on as a student in the fall. He suggested that she'd do better with fewer classes per week with him, rather than four or five times a week in a large class with students of varying abilities. She's 11, close to 12. I'm not sure how I feel about it--she loved him and he is a phenomenal teacher and we were so honored that he wants to take her on. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance for any input.

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That is a bit of a tough call because we don't know the quality of the training in the school, but, as a rule, I believe that private classes are for coaching purposes, and should be only as needed and in addition to regular classes. That assumes that the classes are taught by a qualified teacher or teachers, and level appropriate. At 12, if she is serious about ballet, then she needs 4 or 5 classes a week, at least. There should be an absolute minimum of 3 technique classes, plus at least 2 pointe classes. I would suggest 4 or 5 technique and 3 pointe if possible.

 

Privates are good for correcting any specific problems, and for coaching for performance work. I don't think they are optimal for total training at all. That is, of course, just my opinion as a teacher.

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It could really take away the enjoyment of ballet to have ONLY private lessons. I don't disagree with them generally but maybe one a fortnight or so would be OK alongside her other classes if that's an option.

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  • 1 month later...

You have to remember that a lot of these teachers are in it for the money. Of course he would want you to take a lot of private lessons with him, what teacher wouldn't. Only you will really have the best interest of your daughter. As a professional dancer and now a teacher and also a mother of 3 daughters taking only privates is strange unless your child is as actress and on the road alot, or she is preparing for something important like an audition. You should just have her in a good quality school that is focused on true classical ballet.

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Privates for the purpose of working on a specific problem, or for the purpose of coaching for a role, are fine. They are short term, not continual, and can be very helpful.

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My daughter has taken a few privates for just the reasons stated by Ms. Leigh, so I'm certainly not against private lessons. What I don't understand is how a child can learn ballet by only taking privates. Ballet requires developing a sense of moving through space in conjunction with other people. I would imagine that just as important as it is to learn to execute skills correctly and artisitically, it is important to learn to coordinate timing with other dancers (as happens daily in across the floor work), position oneself in line with other dancers, keep spacing even, synchronize movements, etc. (which happens daily in barre and center work). I've never taken ballet myself, but I did play an instrument in an orchestra, and though we did take private lessons on our individual instruments, we also needed to practice with the whole orchestra and the conductor on a regular basis! I would think that ballet would require this kind of group work on a regular basis as well.

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