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Ballet Talk for Dancers

teacher ignoring student


balletmomy

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I am looking for some advise to give my daughter (age 14) who is dealing with a teacher who is ignoring her in ballet. She is unsure if she should approach the teacher and ask her if there is something more she could be doing in class. She is also nervous to do so as she doesn't want to appear to be pointing fingers.

My dd feels as though she is one of the hardest working and does get comments for that, but she can go a whole class without corrections. The teacher has her favorites and they appear to be the focus.

The teacher has met with dd, as with all students in the class, and discussed goals and said she works very hard in class. DD feels she has already improved on the items set for her to work on. DD is the tallest in her class as she is 5"9'

Feeling like a fish out of water on this one. I do meet with the teacher in Dec. but that seems like a long wait.

Appreciate any suggestions.

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Hi,

 

My daughter is 14 and has dealt with this on and off over the years. She is an extrememly hard worker also and most of her comments are about that, not her technique or suitability for ballet. She suggests that your daughter should find a time to have a brief "check in" with the teacher and just say, I know there are some things I need to work on ( or were brought up during our meeting, and I just wanted to check in and see if I am making any progress." Phrased correctly, the teacher should not feel offended. If the only answer is "oh you doing fine" which my daughter says is very unhlepful, she says it might be helpful to talk to another teacher or a teacher outside of the school.

 

She says it's better to ask than to wonder and asking can focus the teacher's attention on you. If you ask and the teacher doesn't really have a answer to the question, it may be because she was fcusing on just a few girls. So she may take a minute to check your daughter out and provide feedback. But your daughter should be prepared to get "your doing fine, dear," as an answer.

 

My daughter hates that answer because she knows that every dancer has things he or she needs to work on. So she has tried, "That's great, I'm pleased to hear it but can you give me something specific I need to work on?" Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. She feels that if she can't get anything specific then the teacher really isn't paying attention. She suggests using opportunities with other teachers for feedback.

 

When dd was at her old studio and getting ignored a lot, she used her summer intensive as a way to get the feedback she needed. The feedback convinced her that she needed to change studios. The problem was not that she was unsuitable for ballet just that she had never been corrected on things (because her teachers were focusing on a specific body type). She moved to a studio where she got a lot of feedback (a bundle of corrections her first year - that's where the hard working thing was helpful) and was able to improve. In fact her new teacher stopped her after class last week and told her how pleased he was with her progress lately. That made her very, very happy.

 

She says, master classes, SI auditions and classes with other teachers at other studios can help her measure herself. She says she has learned that ballet is very subjective when it comes to individual teachers - and some like a certain body type and some prefer a certain level of artistry over body tpe. It can be confusing and learning what your teacher likes and expects is part of learning how to be a dancer. She says if she is ever in a company the director will have personal preferances as well. ( Of course she adds that if you get the contract you already know you have something he/she likes so that makes it easier)

 

I hope that helps.

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I'm interested in hearing some words of wisdom as well!

 

DD doesn't receive anywhere near the amount of corrections as her classmates.

 

She's one of the younger girls in her level and KNOWS she should be receiving corrections, yet feels she's being ignored.

 

She has the "look" and the physique as well as A nice stage prescence...yet she doesn't memorize the combinations as quickly as the other dancers.

 

She often times leaves class feeling like she's a lost cause.

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learningdance

So, I find this rather upsetting and frankly appalling. I do understand that it is not unusual.

 

It's one thing to be a paid dancer in the corps and not get feedback or got to an audition and not get a role but it really makes no sense for a dance teacher in a school who is charged with dance education to not be educating everyone? (Slightly ironic if you ask me). I mean you are paying for this. If your child was taking piano and just sat down every week to play a song and the teacher said, "Everything's fine, dear," it wouldn't be acceptable.

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Just offering another idea...

 

Sometimes, kids are just right on task too. They're working hard and are applying corrections well, bringing 100% effort. However, usually the teacher will say something encouraging to them too, like, "You're working hard- keep it up!" or something if they are seeing the kind of effort that is a child truly living up to her potential at that moment.

 

If a child is being totally ignored, it is time for some sort of communication, I agree. :devil:

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My DDs just changed studios after many years because of this very issue. They felt completely ignored in most classes because teachers had favorites. Like learningdance, I find this absolutely unacceptable. A teacher with integrity wants each student to improve. There is no valid reason to give corrections to some, but not all students. Neither body type nor the fact that a teacher believes some students have more potential than others justifies this behavior. The only reason ignoring a student might be justified is if the student obviously does not want to be in class and clearly does not try or has a bad attitude. My DDs have only been at the new school for a couple of months, so the jury is still out on whether it is better in this regard. If the same problem arises, I will not sit back and watch it continue for years like I did at the old school -- that is for sure! With regard to what a student should do in this situation, I think it requires a more blunt discussion than simply asking, "How am I doing? What can I improve on?" Why do we all have to walk on eggshells with these instructors when it is their job to teach? I personally suggest that the student or parent meet with the instructor and directly request more corrections and attention in class.

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dance1soccer1

Another point - while we all hope we have teenagers who can calmly approach a teacher and ask questions, the truth is that not all kids, particularly at thirteen and fourteen, are confident enough to do so. As a parent, you're paying the teacher to teach and you are also (if you're anything like me), trying to learn about ballet and soak up all information. You could approach the teacher yourself and say "I note that my DD is not receiving many corrections. When I watch her do X step, it seems to me like she's (sickling her foot, behind the class, forgetting the combination, whatever....). Can you make sure to watch that and see if she needs more corrections? She feels as if she needs a little more help with that." My son's goal in his sport at that age was to stop all b a l l s coming into his goal. I had no problem saying to the coach, "Hey, a little more help and advice here, buddy. I'm jsut a parent and don't know what to tell the kid." I tried to carry that over to my communications with my DD's ballet teachers.

Edited by Clara 76
to fix a word that had been blocked by software.
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My daughter has been taking dance for years and was ignored when she was young because she had the same teacher for all her classes who had favorites of a different body type. Through taking classes with other teachers (usually the less popular ones) and going to summer intensives she has had great instruction, improved a great deal and is eager to utilize all corrections. She is now considered one of the better dancers at the school, but she recently took a class with the previous teacher and again was completely ignored. Luckily she has had so much other feedback from other teachers that she merely found it amusing. I feel very strongly that all dancers need a variety of teachers to get well rounded corrections.

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Thank you everyone fora ll your comments. She had a better class yesterday, she was addressed a couple of times for great control, she said she still didn't get the number of corrections as some. I think her plan is to leave this for a while and absorb other peoples corrections and if she needs me to I will approach the teacher. She has mentioned the teacher is very easy to talk to. I don't meet the teacher until Dec.

Edited by balletmomy
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  • 1 month later...
Guest tipo'thetoes
Thank you everyone fora ll your comments. She had a better class yesterday, she was addressed a couple of times for great control, she said she still didn't get the number of corrections as some. I think her plan is to leave this for a while and absorb other peoples corrections and if she needs me to I will approach the teacher. She has mentioned the teacher is very easy to talk to. I don't meet the teacher until Dec.

 

Could I ask, is your daughter at school in the UK or the US?

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My daughter is attending school in Canada.

And just as a follow-up, I talked to the teacher on the phone yesterday. My daughter was still having issues and I had to find out what was going on.

According to the teacher my daughter is top of the class and didn't need as much attention as the others. She was very receptive to my call and realized that my daughter would still like feedback.

I feel very relieved and hope that this is the end of this issue!

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 year later...
cluelessballetparent

Thank your for raising this topic. I am new to this forume (today is my first day and this is my first post). I am very concerned about this issue as well. What is surprising to me is that my dd's teacher never did this before. Once upon a time my now 13yo dancer was thought to have 'considerable potential' as a dancer. Now she is ignored. Part of the problem, I think, is because she does as she's told and adheres to all of the rules (no dangling earrings, no jewelry, no warm up clothes, wears only the requisite style leotard, etc.) and does not disrupt the class. I think the other part of the problem is her body type. She is 5'3", fit, trim, but muscular. She is not the tall, thin, willowy type. I've noticed the few 'favorites' get more corrections, were promoted to the next level, and received bigger parts in the winter and spring performances. Also, they were hand picked for competition. When I've asked her teacher to set quantifiable, achievable goals, I was told she pretty much has corrected everything the teacher felt needed correcting. Hmmmmm. Even to my untrained, clueless eye, my dd can use some improvement. Oh, the other thing, her teacher has taken to putting girls on point as young as 9 and promoted girls 2 levels after only 1 year on pointe. Needless to say, they all exhibit the "right body type."

 

The most difficult thing about this situation is that I really like the dance teacher and have known him for some time. I've tried talking to him, but have not really gotten very far. He is not dismissive, unkind, or in any way disrespectful. He just doesn't seem to think there is a problem.

 

For my part, I am about fairness. I pay the same amount of tuition and believe my dd is entitled to an equitable training experience. This may be a pre-pro program, but is not associated with a company (even a second company).

 

As for my dd, she loves this school and will not even listen to a discussion of changing schools.

 

I would really appreciate any and all advice about what to do. I want my dd to be happy, treated fairly, and accepted for the hard working, dedicated dancer she is and not ignored because she was not born with the Balachine Body gene.

 

Thank you for reading my post and allowing me to express my frustration.

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Momof3darlings
hen I've asked her teacher to set quantifiable, achievable goals, I was told she pretty much has corrected everything the teacher felt needed correcting.

 

I don't think I've ever heard a dance teacher say something like this. Most of them will say that there is always something to be corrected and improved on. Is it possible that your DK is giving off a "vibe" in class from her frustration that is causing the teacher to tred lightly? Ballet is many cases is not fair just like life always isn't. But expecting instruction to move any child in class forward is a reasonable expectation. Since you've already spoken to him, possibly it's time for your daughter to talk to him herself. You can help her practice at home, or she can even write down one or two points she is sure she wants to discuss. What's important is that whether your DK is a favorite or not, that she is receiving the correct instruction for her ability and her level.

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I agree with Momof3darlings. DD has a teacher who some students accuse of playing favorites/ignoring certain students. DD loves this teacher's class. She says that this teacher will not say "good" to someone unless something is good. No warm fuzzies. She also says that the teacher seems to mirror the "investedness" of the student in the amount of attention she pays. She is sensitve to dancers exhibiting frustration in class & will back off. Several years ago, she counselled my daughter about this, telling her that she needed to control her face & her body language when she became frustrated & never show that emotion to a director or choreographer. This was hard to learn. In our family there are no poker faces, haha! :ermm::3dnod: But she has come a long way!

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