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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help Evaluating Class


Cuckoomamma

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After a tough time finding a local studio for dd(9) this past year, we found one which I thought was working well. They don't offer classes during the summer, so I brought dd to a very reputable program which is an hour's drive for us for the summer. They offer two intensives, one up through age 9 and the second beginning at age 9.

 

She took both classes to see which fit was better. The first class has children with no ballet experience whatsoever, and included ballet walks across the room. The second class was much more similar to what dd is currently doing in class. However, the teacher told us that dd should be taking the lower level class because she doesn't turn out enough. Dd could do all the combinations, just doesn't have a beautiful turnout.

 

There is no doubt that dd's turnout isn't the best. However, her current studio has led us to believe that she will develop this with time. This summer program clearly stresses the turnout much more. The teacher was pushing all the girls to have a 180 degree turnout by physically manipulating their feet. As a result, I saw lots of balance issues and stomachs/bottoms out of alignment. The girls were also leaning onto the barre for their sote's (sp). This is something that is always discouraged at dd's current studio. It seemed to me from watching these two classes that turnout was everything.

 

I'm at a loss. I'm here on this forum because I really don't know enough about ballet to know how to evaluate classes/teachers. This summer program has a very strong reputation, but I'm shaking my head over what I saw today. I just don't know what to think. Should dd take a very beginner class in order to improve her turnout? It just seems wrong to me. The instructor was yelling at me when she told me that "dd wasn't getting the training she deserved", that turn out would not just develop, it had to be made and that there is no ballet without turnout. She later apologized, but I'm just so confused by the whole thing. The summer program has the better reptution in the ballet world (from what I know), but her regular studio's approach just made more sense to me.

 

Can you please clarify what I should be looking for?

 

TIA

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  • Administrators

Without knowing the schools and the faculty, it's hard to know how to respond, except that I will say that forcing rotation by manipulation, and stressing it the way it appears to be stressed this summer, is not, in my opinion, a good thing for anyone, much less a 9 year old.

 

Yes, rotation is necessary. "Perfect" rotation, at 9??? I don't think so.

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Without knowing the schools and the faculty, it's hard to know how to respond, except that I will say that forcing rotation by manipulation, and stressing it the way it appears to be stressed this summer, is not, in my opinion, a good thing for anyone, much less a 9 year old.

 

Yes, rotation is necessary. "Perfect" rotation, at 9??? I don't think so.

[/quote

 

This is a residential facility for older (high school) students. Is it possible that the teacher for the younger students is not as reputable? I just feel as if my head is spinning, trying to make sense with what happened today and what I thought the school would be like.

 

Are there any clear ways to evaluate a school that I could apply in this situation? This teacher has never danced professionally herself. Yet, the residential school has clearly turned out some wonderful dancers. I assumed that this was indicative of the quality of the younger school. Is this not necessarily the case?

 

Am I permitted to ask about a school specifically? I thought it might be against the rules of the board.

 

Thanks so much for your timely response. I really appreciate it.

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It's not so much that you can't ask. But we just try to protect the location of our youngsters so we don't necessarily want to link the location of your DK with your moniker. Have you read through the entire threads for the specific SI where she is in attendance? Is it possible that this has been raised as an issue before on the threads for the school or SI here?

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  • Administrators

Cuckoomamma, we also cannot say specific things about a specific school unless we know that school and the faculty, and know it from a personal experience. It is very difficult, because without seeing or knowing everything about it, we really cannot say that they are right or wrong. All we can say is our own opinions about what is right, or best, for the student in question. In this case, it is a 9 year old who has had training that does not force rotation. But, there are some schools that do not focus on teaching rotation at all. So, knowing her previous training is critical, as well as knowing her potential for excellent rotation. The word "perfect" bothers me, as does using numbers, like 180º as the only thing acceptable. Working towards the best one can achieve is very important, but forcing is also not a word that I can live with.

 

I would ask for an honest assessment from the faculty at this summer program, in terms of your daughters potential. However, I would also want to hear, maybe especially want to hear, from the teacher who has worked with her the longest at her home school. Do they feel that she has potential for very good rotation, among other things that are necessary for excellence in ballet? If so, are they working for it, but going slowly for a reason? Or, is there a chance that she really does not have the potential and they are not pushing for it for that reason?

 

It is quite possible that her home school believes that you work towards it, and always stress correct usage, but you do not force it. This is something you will need to find out. One thing would be to look carefully at the more advanced students at the home school. Also, does this home school turn out dancers who move on into the professional world, or at least high level college ballet programs?

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