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Ballet Talk for Dancers

teacher ignoring student


balletmomy

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If she has corrected everything the teacher feels she needs to correct, then . . . . shouldn't she be moved on to a level where she will will be challenged with additional corrections? :unsure:

 

I would agree with Momof3darlings and ceecee, it is time for your 15-year old DD to talk with her teacher. SHE needs to be the one telling/showing him she is ready/willing/desiring more corrections so as to improve her training. It is often that a teacher will give corrections only to the point he/she feels the dancer can assimilate them. (which is where the 'she's corrected everything needing correction' give me pause . . . . ) The teacher doesn't want to overload or discourage the dancer by giving too many corrections.

 

Other times, it is necessary for the dancer to embed a specific correction before the teacher can move on and layer the next step in the correction on. It would do no good to fuss about 'B' before 'A' is firmly in place. (but again, if she has 'corrected everything needing correction' . . . . then it would seem she has mastered this level . . . )

 

Definitely she needs to talk to the teacher--and it needs to come from her at this point. The teacher needs to know SHE is invested and SHE wants to move forward. Sometimes the child's demeanor can seem to the teacher that they aren't present or interested. My DD actually had a time-period like this with one of her most admired and trusted teachers. I did have DD talk to the teacher (but I was present to help facilitate for my rather shy-to-talk-to-authority-figures DD, but SHE had to do the talking). Turns out, DD wasn't really understanding the correction the teacher had been trying to get her to make. DD thought she understood it and thought she was making it, but the teacher thought DD was either ignoring it or not capable of making it just yet. So, the teacher backed off and DD felt she was losing the teacher's attention. Teacher was totally surprised at DD's perception and DD was totally surprised at her teacher's perception.

 

Once they talked about it, things went back to moving right along!

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I agree with dancemaven that at this age it would be most helpful for your dd and for the teacher if your dd would approach the teacher. It will allow the teacher to have one more opportunity to learn to know your dd and also see that she is really motivated and would like corrections. Can she choose one or two particular things she would like to improve on and speak to the teacher after class, perhaps asking her what she can do to make them better? It doesn't need to be more than a one minute conversation. It might seem hard to do this, because sometimes a teacher who is very friendly and personable can seem equally scary to approach. And there are always going to be teachers who seem to choose favorites. But at this age, I am in agreement with advice that points your dd to strongly advocate for herself. It will give her the experience that helps her mature, since that's what she would have to do in the future. Other advice my dd has received that has helped her when a teacher's eyes have strayed over a period of time is to start putting out even more energy in class and give a performance, even at the barre. A good teacher should note the extra effort and respond - and I believe you have some very wonderful teachers there in Canada! :):thumbsup:

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cluelessballetparent

Thank you all for your advice...I really appreciate it. I think you are right in that it is time for my DD to speak with her teacher. The problem is that she is shy and feels uncomfortable with talking to teachers, in general. I think part of it is an authority concern and part of it is she does not like confrontation. Personally, I think she needs to approach the teacher because I am rather clueless about dance. I mean, when I was told she needed to be more "dancey," I had and still have no idea what that means!!

 

As for the corrections, I do know one thing, her teacher has always said my DD is great at accepting corrections and criticism. In fact, he included that in a letter of recommendation for one of the summer intensive programs my DD auditioned for. So, I admit, I am baffled. One other thing, her teacher seems to always be surprised at my DD's progress. I've been told several times how much my DD has surprised him. For instance, he didn't think she could get more flexible, but she has. He didn't expect her to get any stronger, but she has. He didn't expect her to be less shy on stage, but she is. I don't know, Maybe I'm making mountains out of mole hills. Really, the only thing I do know, is as my DD as grown and matured, she has gone from a little girl with an "I" shape (meaning straight up and down, no curves, little muscle definition) to a young lady with curves and big muscles. She is not fat by any, ANY stretch of the imagination. But, at 13, she is looking more like a modern dancer or a gymnast than a Balanchine ballerina. Not that I am displeased with her appearance--she looks exactly like what she is--a healthy, strong, physically fit 13yo. And, of course, as her mother, I think she is absolutely perfect!

 

For me, it is a matter of equity. This is not a true training ground for future professional dancers. All dancers are accepted. If an audition is done, it is done for the sole purpose of placement and not to eliminate or judge a dancer's potential for a future career. As I pay the same amount as every other parent in her class and as my check clears as readily, I just feel it is not okay for the teacher to show favoritism. I know, life isn't fair nor perfect. But, that said, I think it is time for my DD to talk with her teacher (with me present, if she so desires) before the end of the year conference and promotions are determined. Again, thank you, all for listening, taking the time to write, and offering some valuable advice and insights.

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cluelessballetparent, your shy dancer who is uncomfortable talking with teachers, i.e., authority figures sounds just like my DD at that age. As I offered before, I did help facilitate the meeting with my DD and her teacher, but I made sure she was the one asking the questions and responding to the teacher's questions/comments. I did that by having DD with me when we approached the teacher. I asked the teacher if she had a minute to talk and when the teacher said, 'yes', I prompted my DD to ask her question---which was something along the lines of 'I want to continue to progress to the next level. What is the most important thing for me to be focusing on right now?' (We did have to practice a little before hand with getting a question phrased for her to ask to 'break the ice'.) Once the teacher responded (it had to do with back placement), I prompted DD again by asking her if she understood the correction she was suppose to be making. (She said, 'not really. I thought I was doing that). Somewhere in there the teacher explained that she had quit correcting it because she thought DD was not interested in fixing it because she would nod in class when the teacher corrected her, but as soon as the teacher passed on, DD would revert to the 'wrong' placement. The teacher explained that until THAT correction was in place, there really wasn't anything to build on.

 

The teacher learned from the exchange that DD was VERY interested (as she had always been) in making the appropriate corrections and the teacher promised (and did) go back to really working with DD on that correction and reminding her of it ad infinitum. DD learned from the exchange that the teacher was still very interested in her, but was misreading DD's commitment and extent of understanding of that correction. (DD is/was very bright and the teacher had had her since she was a small child. She knew her work ethic and dedication and, for the most part, her quiet intense personality. But sometimes DD actually looked blank when she was working to internalize a correction or information. The teacher was reading that look as indifference on DD's part----and given the age, around 13 or so, it wasn't uncommon for formerly dedicated, intense students to lose that interest and dedication. So the teacher figured if DD wanted to fix the correction, she would have!)

 

In fact, that particular correction was the bane of DD's training----the back placement issue followed her for literally years, from the home studio to the residency program, to two training programs, to her BFA program. Every teacher she had tried to address the issue and ultimately were baffled by the issue. She FINALLY got it all straightened out after three years of dedicated GYROTONICS training with master teachers. So, . . . .

 

All this to say, yes, your shy, authority-shy, DD CAN do this----and there are ways you can help her without be the main participant. Best Wishes!!

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I had a tall, willowy DD (still do) and she had the misfortune of having one teacher early on who was absolutely hateful. She would scream across the room "hey (DD's name) you better be paying attention - this correction is for you" while on her knees demonstrating said correction on one of her favorites across the room.

 

I pulled her at the end of the term.

 

Life is too short to deal with ugly people. I would've done this even if she had not been serious about dance, though she is -- and is now well-trained and well-nurtured. (Though the first is more important, the second is a nice bonus)

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Cluelessballetparent: I don't think I have advice, but I do have empathy. I have expressed the exact same complaints for years. We pay the same tuition as everyone else. Thus, our daughters should get attention in class. I do not understand how so many ballet teachers feel it is appropriate to correct only one or two students and ignore the rest -- maybe throwing out a bone here and there. Yes, I know that the students should apply corrections given to other dancers, but each student deserves corrections that specifically address that student's needs. It is not that difficult to go around the room and give each students corrections through a two hour ballet class. At times, my daughters state that they feel they are in a private lesson for one or two other students. I am so frustrated with this issue that I am close to having our daughters switch schools. The only problem is that I believe this is a problem with 99% of ballet instructors. Sorry to be negative, but I believe this is endemic to ballet teachers. Apologies to the teachers out there who actually provide equitable instruction.

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  • 1 month later...

I am having a similar issue with my 13 year old DD (will be 14 in a few weeks). She is in a school with a pre-professional company of which she is a company member (all ballet) and the Artistic Director (AD) has all say in what parts the dancers will get in the various productions. While my DD only has the AD teacher for one class per week (has a different teacher the other days), when she does have this AD she basically gets ignored most of the time. I admit I am new to this, but even to my untrained eye my DD is much better than some of the other dancers at her level. The AD basically has a few favorites and that is it. According to everything my daughter is told and sees, my DD is considered at the very bottom of her class. What confuses me is that she was accepted into ABT and Boston SI's last year (when none of the others at her level that auditioned were) and she has been accepted into Bolshoi and ABT this year (again the other dancers at her level that auditioned either weren't accepted or were accepted only at the youngest/lowest ABT site despite being the same age or older than my DD). When she attended ABT last year they really liked her and even though there were no solos at the final performance at her level, she was always one of the few that were front and center. I'm not big into being a "dance mom" like you see on TV and am not one of those mom's that is demanding that my daughter get better parts, etc. I am just not understanding why others see potential in my daughter and her AD doesn't. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how much her regular teacher likes her, if the AD doesn't, that is it as far as roles in the performances. This is really getting to her and I really don't know even what to tell her. We have tried having her take private lessons with the AD since I figured if there was something specific that she wanted her to work on, that was the best way of achieving it. We have talked to the AD and all I get is that she is probably the hardest working dancer in the class and she is "progressing nicely". I know my DD isn't a ballet prodigy by any means, but she is a good dancer! I would think about switching her to another school except that all of the other schools in my area are competition schools and that is not what she wants. She wants all ballet and a performance based company. Any thoughts on how to handle the situation and also what to say to my DD? I've talked to my DD about having a conference with the AD and very nicely and politely asking her what the problem is and what she can do to improve, but my DD is afraid this will just exacerbate the problem.

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