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Dancers placed by teacher in same position for class


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I have a question for the more experienced ballet parents and moderators. My 13 year old dd has ballet class with one particular instructor twice a week for technique and pointe. The teacher places the dancers at the bar and in lines for center work. My dd has had the same bar space, which she is not allowed to move from since the Summer Intensive with this teacher. She is also placed in the back row in the corner and cannot see the teacher or the mirror at all. She is only 5'2". I have never observed a class in which the dancers were not moved around in the lines during the class, so everyone gets to be in front, middle, back or at least in a different space in the studio. She has also never experienced this with any other teacher and she has had quite a few. Two girls (sisters) who were in the back row with dd quite last week mainly due to this teacher and now my dd is left in the back row by herself.


This practice is not the norm, is it? What benefit would this provide to the dancers? My daughter is beside herself and being only 13, her self esteem is dwindling. She feels neglected and not worthy. The strange thing is she is a beautiful dancer, is cast in coveted rolls for Nutcracker, like Clara and more, but this teacher just does not appear to like her. My dd is very quiet, not a diva and does not cause any interuption in class. She also has an extrememly strong work ethic and all the other teachers know this. She is not the best dancer in the class since she is one of the younger ones, but I don't think that she should be shoved in the back every single class. I am drafting a email to the studio director or will be speaking to her, but would like to hear some imput before I do. Thank you so much!

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Dianne, generally students do not have set places in class, at the barre or in the center. Also there should be a change of lines in the center, and also separate groups unless the class is very small. Sometimes in very young classes, like levels 1 and 2, the teacher might like to keep them in one spot at the barre, or, line them up by height. There are no rules about this, just some teachers like to do it. Placing them in the center is fine, but keeping them in the same row all the time is not.


In classes where the levels are mixed, the students who are less advanced will likely not be placed in the front, at least not at first, but then the lines should still change when the combination repeats. When the lines change, the placement of the student in her line should remain constant. In other words, they don't start one combination in the center of the line and another on the end. They move straight forward and backward. These things should be established in the early years. By the upper levels, the students themselves tend to find "their spot" at the barre. They all seem to have a favorite place to be, but they are usually not put there by the teacher, and we often make them move around just so they don't get "married" to that one spot! :)

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At my dd's ballet school in the levels lower than the top level, the "best" students are placed on the center barre, and others are relegated to the side barre. I hate the practice, myself, but it's the way it is. They do move the lines in the center as Ms. Leigh has described. In the top level, which spans the age range of 14 - 18 (the next level down has an age range of 13 - 16), the students choose their own spots at the barre, but, again as Ms. Leigh has said, the teacher will move them around sometimes since they do tend to stick to one "comfort zone" spot.

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Thank you so much for your replies. "Barre," sorry Ms. Leigh, I do know this by now, but I was just venting and overcome with emotions, maybe anger that my fingers just typed away. My dd is in the advanced level. Her barre spot is less than ideal and she is not allowed to even move down a few feet if there are students absent. Makes no sense to me. The placement of dancers at center are not by age, height or dancing ability. One thing that we did notice is that the other girls in the back were heavier than the rest and my daughter is very thin has a very long torso and shortish legs. She even mentioned, "we are the ones with the not so perfect ballet bodies." She has the ability, but will not make it into the NYC ballet and we know that, but that is not her goal at this point.


I am so scared to talk to the director, because the teacher in question was her student and they are very close. I must do it for the sake of my daughter and other dancers who may end up in a very similar situation. I am so worried that my dd will suffer any repercussions during class. We have a long long year ahead of us.

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Have you considered quietly checking out other schools in your area?

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Clara, yes I know of two other schools in our area. Our school is 5 minutes away from my house, the next is 30. If it comes down to it we would move next semester. DD has been at her school for 8 years and the Director is very highly respected in the ballet community and is the most wonderful teacher. We would hate to damage that relationship. I think that my daughter would rather stick it out at this school than leave her beloved Artistic Director.


I mostly wanted confirmation that the moving of lines at center is standard and most dancers at the advanced levels do pick their own barre space unless they need to be moved because of talking. Thanks!

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Clara, move if not in the proper spot (like to cross talk).


*I* put kids at the barre and in the center(not so much for my advanced classes). *I* hate when I cannot see all of the students. I also want the students to learn from each other, learn spacial relations, and most of all I want to be able to see them all! I cannot stress this enough. I sometimes have the lines rotate, but not often. They struggle to remember the combination, and I sometimes feel I am losing time/ground when they flounder through the combination.


I have a few mixed level classes and I make sure that much younger/lower level students are between upper level students at the barre. I want them to have someone to look up to, to aspire to dance like. The same with the center. I dislike when all the same kids stand right next to all their friends. I want all the kids to dance with all the kids. I will say that I rarely have the problem of talking, so when I move kids it is usually for this reason, to mix and mingle.

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Thanks for your input b1. This makes a lot of sense for lower levels, but not so much for advances students who are motivated and dedicated to dance. I do understand that the teacher needs to see the students at the barre. That's fine, but to never have them move barre spaces?


I just learned from my daugher, that the students who were in this class last year are still in the sames spots. They never are given the opportunity to move at all. It's been over a year now. My dd is very discouraged and I'm upset because the studio is so convenient and we love the AD so much, that I would hate for my dd to have to leave..

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The phrase "afraid to talk to the director " set off alarm bells for me. For years we were at a highly respected school where everyone was afraid to challenge the teachers and the director or call them on their very obvious favoritism. AFter a heart wrenching decision, we switched dance schools. My daughter has now blossomed. Not only is she a happier adolescent but her dancing is so much better because she feels she can talk to her teachers and they pay attention to her. Highly respected is not an excuse to be cold, inflexible and mean. In reality they work for us and they should be working for all students not just their favored few.

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Thanks kobbymom, I was gaining input because I didn't know if it was standard or not in some different schools not to switch lines before I talked to the Director. We talked to the Director, who confirmed that lines should move and barre spots should not become permanant and things will change in the future. She is really the best in the business in the area and we would be crazy to leave to go anywhere else. The teacher had reasons, but I am confident that things will change.

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That is a happy ending, I am glad it worked out for you and your daughter, it is always so difficult to know what is a legitimate gripe and when it is just the student having her own issues. It does sound like the director listened to your concerns which is the main thing.

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Oh yes, b1- not saying she should move schools only because a teacher places students at the barre. In some schools, it is a requirement to place children of any age by height at the barre.


The school she is describing does not sound like it is employing the type of reasoning to how the students are placed that you are describing, but rather that they are placed according to teacher whim, which may not be the best situation for her dd.

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Dancers were all allowed to choose their own barre and center spots this week and they were all so excited. It wasn't just my dd feeling stuck to the same spot. I think that it's good for them to get another perspective. Thanks to all for your comments and input! DD is a happy girl once again.

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  • 7 months later...

Oops! a Young Dancer wandered into the Parents Forum by mistake and a post was removed.

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