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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Studio Politics...what to do...


TemptressToo

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I dance at two different schools. One is my home studio where I have trained since the beginning. The teacher is a well respected teacher (some of you know her). The second studio is taught by another well respected teacher who happens to give me more detail and the basics I don't get at my main studio (since I did not dance as a child). I love them both although I'm more invested in my first studio.

 

Last June, I danced my first recital piece with my home studio. I loved it. I happen to love to perform.

 

I've been given the opportunity to dance a recital with my second studio in the spring. I really want to...but here is where the politics comes into play. My home studio teacher does not know I dance at a second studio. Furthermore, she attended my second studio's last recital, and commented on the students lacking in training. There's good reason for this lack...the second studio has a stronger performance arts groups focusing more on contemporary and jazz and not so much classical ballet. Although the teacher that I work with is classically trained and is a great teacher for the mechanics and detail work of ballet.

 

I don't think my first teacher would be happy to know I'm splitting my training. I'm afraid I'll be punished in some way. She's the type that if she doesn't like you, you know it. She may also exclude me from being invited to perform in my home studio recital (it seems to be by invitation...because not all of the adult students get to dance it).

 

Part of me wants to tell her and see what she says/does. Part of me wants to not tell her and just do it. Part of me wants to do it incognito...perhaps with some clever makeup/costuming/lighting without my name (or real name) in the program if there is one. Reason being, there's a good chance she'll be in attendance.

 

What to do?

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Part of me wants to not tell her and just do it. Part of me wants to do it incognito...perhaps with some clever makeup/costuming/lighting without my name (or real name) in the program if there is one. Reason being, there's a good chance she'll be in attendance.

 

What to do?

 

Definitely NOT this! Sorry but you only have two options - a) turn down the recital or b come clean now. I am wondering why you haven't told her before. Honesty is always the best policy in these things, as I have found out from experience. The only time - ages ago - I was in a similar kind of situation (not in ballet) I chose not to be in the show rather than risk being found out. At that time I decided never again, and now I am upfront that I go to multiple studios.

 

If she "finds out" in this way, rather than from you, she is far more likely to be offended and react in the way that you fear.

 

And believe me, if she is there, she WILL recognise you. (Unless you find some way to stop her going....)

 

What makes this worse is that she doesn't rate the other studio, in fact she criticised them to you, and the fact that you didn't say anything then just looks REALLY bad.....

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I wasn't dancing at the second studio at the time. So there was not a reason to tell her then. I've only been there a couple of months, as compared to a couple years with my first studio.

 

I just want to dance...I live for it. It just kills me that it is this way.

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I've been a situation before where I was considering splitting my training between two studios. I didn't end up doing it for more than 2 weeks (during a transition period where for certain reasons I needed to start at the new studio early) but it's not great when you're not being entirely open with one or other teacher.

 

I don't really have much advice other than to say that you need to make a decision about what to do soon...and I agree with Jane - deception in doing the show (i.e. not real name) is not a good idea.

 

I am fortunate to go to a studio now where the teachers are generally open to allow adults (and older students) to attend more than one ballet studio. It's such a relief not to have to deal with politics like that anymore. I currently go to only one studio but I know some studios do go to more than one studio or are attending this studio in addition to training with a company.

 

Good luck!

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I have to agree with Jane s when she says of your Studio 1 teacher:

 

"If she "finds out" in this way, rather than from you, she is far more likely to be offended and react in the way that you fear.

And believe me, if she is there, she WILL recognise you. (Unless you find some way to stop her going....)"

 

Your teacher may not like your splitting time with two studios. Teachers like to retain their talent pool. However, the best time for her to find out that you're studying with another studio is not while she is reading the performance program before the curtain rises.

 

I would avoid attempting to "disguise" yourself. Unless one is dancing "Bottom" in Midsummer Night's Dream, audience members will recognize people they know. As for asking the second studio to leave your name off the program, it's not really fair to that organization, which has given you this performance opportunity, and more importantly, it's not fair to you. Your work deserves credit.

 

Your teacher may well be disappointed with your dual dance allegiances; however, if you don't tell her in advance, she can also be disappointed that you did not have higher regard for her sense of professionalism.

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The difference with adults vs. teens/children is that daily classes for us are few and far between, at most studios. If her studio does not offer you the amount of time you want, then you have no choice but to add to what she is teaching.

 

I have to attend around 5 different studios to get the levels of classes I want. My first studio has closed all the advanced classes to adults (or at least to me), so does not offer challenging classes generally for someone at my level (even for someone who is low intermediate, actually - I consider myself to be upper intermediate, although all of my other studios put me in their advanced classes). So I have to go all over. If they had enough ballet classes for me to attend, or teachers willing to accept adults in their classes, I wouldn't have to go elsewhere. But they choose not to offer that level. Fair enough - I know how fickle adults can be, and how time-constrained most of us are. We are, in general, an unreliable clientele, in my experience.

 

If you put it in the context of needing/wanting more ballet time, then it shouldn't really be an issue. The one studio above is the only one who appears to have an issue with me going elsewhere, while all the rest don't care, as long as I don't try to convince their students to move from one to the other. I think that's a fair compromise.

 

If asked, I will say I dance at several places but not identify which ones. Fortunately, three are adults-only classes - I have no experience or idea how their children's classes are, so even IF asked I can't give an opinion. There aren't any kids around when I'm there.

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I agree with Serendipity. It's much more difficult for adult dance students to find classes, and we often have to take classes at a number of different studios in order to be able to do the level/number of classes we want.

 

At this point, I imagine your teacher might be a bit surprised and hurt that you have felt the need to conceal this information - as deuxballerine said. However, I'm not sure that I would want to learn from someone who - from what you say - would 'punish' you, make her dislike of you apparent in class through open hostility, and exclude you from performances.

 

I didn't attend classes as a child, and I'm slightly unclear on this whole issue regarding different classes. I can understand a teacher stepping in if he/she perhaps felt the other teacher was letting bad habits creep in, or teaching poor technique, but why can't a student attend a variety of classes if they're all well-taught?

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Apparently some old school teachers do not want you cross-training. One of the older ballet students in my class was explaining that back in her day, you trained with one person and going beyond that resulted in your original studio/teacher not supporting you in things like auditions, etc. Of course, she was speaking as a young dancer. I'm old enough to be the mother of those young dancers...

 

I'm going to tell her. She has to know if anything, I'm dedicated to this.

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I take class at 4 (yes four!) different schools, and none of them mind, because none of them offer all the classes I want to take.

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I decided to write my teacher an email and explain myself. In person, I'd probably cry or forget something...What do you think?

 

Ms. Teacher 1,

 

I have an admission to make. Since I started dancing with you in the very beginning, and not having had danced as a child, I always felt like I was lacking in the basics and "why fors" of ballet. So, I have been taking a Wednesday night adult class with Teacher 2. I danced with Teacher 2 years ago when he was teaching at the Pensacola studio of Studio 1.1, and remembered how good he was at explaining details and making you focus on technique.

 

It's a slow class where he really breaks down every step in great detail. There are people in my class that have never danced before, so it is the detail they need and the detail that I need to fill in the gaps. It also fits my schedule since I cannot take class on Thursdays or Fridays due to my work schedule and my husband's schedule.

 

Additionally, Teacher 2 has asked if I would be interested in dancing in his recital in June. I told him that I wanted to consult with you before agreeing (and told him that I would probably be dancing in your recital also in June). I would love to do both, but only will do so with your blessing. Whether I have any amount of talent or not...I truly LOVE to dance and perform.

 

I count it a great privilege and honor to be under your instruction, and have great appreciation for everything you have done for me. I just wanted to be completely open and honest with regards to my training.

 

Respectfully,

TemptressToo

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Personally, I would not do it via email. Write it down if you need to, but don't email. It's kind of a cop-out. I know you're nervous about telling her, but really it's probably far worse in your head than in reality. I would just ask to speak to her and say did you know I've been attending Studio X which has allowed me to really focus on the basics and guess what they've asked me to be in their recital isn't that great? Honestly, if she reacts really badly about it I'm not sure she's worth it no matter how good a teacher she is because this should not be a big deal for adults.

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Too late, I already sent it. But...the good news, she gave me her blessing to dance both. Especially since Studio 2's recital is two weeks after her recital.

 

During class tonight, she seemed to pay more attention to me (perhaps my perception) and then after class told me that I had gotten a lot stronger and my mental "game" has improved (things like remembering combinations and corrections). My thought was she was either a) proving that she too could be as detailed as I wanted her to be or B) checking out what the other studio has done to me/for me in the strength/technique category.

 

So, thanks all for the advice. :)

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Like I said, adults are often not treated the same as kids in terms of this sort of thing. Most teachers know it's hard for us to get classes. But I think, too, you are probably right in that she's also checking to see what you are learning there.

 

Further, by going to different teachers, you WILL improve mentally. Going to several teachers a week greatly increased my ability to pick up combos quickly, because each teacher is so different from the others. And as an adult, you likely will be able to tell whether you are being taught well or badly, since you've had a bit of experience with good teaching already. You will know when it's time to move on fully, if that time comes.

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Yes. And one other thing to mention, Teacher 2 used to be a teacher with Teacher 1's studio. Both of them tied together by the same studio and company. Teacher 2 had some sort of contract dispute with the creative director of the company and parted ways.

 

So, Teacher 1 knows how good and technically sound Teacher 2 is and that helps. She invites Teacher 2 to our dance events and/or recitals.

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