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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Dealing with Distracted Students


CO_Mom

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My 9 year old daughter is excited to be performing in her first Nutcracker. Her school requires the children to be at a particular level before tryouts and not all are selected (I'd guess 75%???) The school is associated with a professional company (very small city, so Nutcracker is really the company's big production). Most of the students performing are at least 9 - so we don't have a lot of super, young children in the show. My question is that there are a few students who are a huge distraction at rehearsal - talking, being goofy, missing cues, talking, talking and more talking. Frankly, it's one student who has a tendency to encourage some of the others. My daughter has a small part - but is taking this SUPER seriously - it doesn't help that one of her little friends from class did not get cast. I'm struggling with how to help her deal with it.

 

I know my perspective is skewed, as I would have tossed the kid out of the production after the second rehearsal - which is probably why I don't teach young children. I have told her to just concentrate on being the best mouse ever - but she's frustrated. The AD has talked to the child a few times - particularly about missing the cues, but I think as it's a small part, she has a lot more pressing things to worry about.

 

Other than avoidance, is there any tips I can give her? And is this pretty typical?

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Guest coupe66

Unfortunately, if the AD has already been addressing the situation with the student who is causing the distraction, there isn't much you are going to be able to do besides encouraging your dd to keep her own focus up and keep working hard. If your dd continues to participate in student performances, you will encounter these kinds of situations more than you might like. Over the years, I have always reminded myself that they are students, each with a varying level of maturity, talent, and interest in ballet. It is good that at least the AD is trying to address the situation. Not all AD's will do that.

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Oh the joys of Nutcracker! lol Last year my DD (who was also 9) had to endure an older girl who consistently missed cues, talked, tripped on her and generally messed up her line of soldiers. My perfectionist DD was beside herself! In fact when we got the professional still photos there was that girl saluting at the wrong time! Now she laughs at the whole thing but at the time I felt like Dr. Phil always telling her to be nice and offer suggestions but not to get mad. I do not think it is coincidental that the girl was not asked back this year. I can only imagine that she was disruptive in class as well. I just told her to concentrate on herself and not to worry about others. Good luck!

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We have a few of those. Sometimes it's even my own DD. I just tell her that she is responsible for her own actions and not to worry about others. There are many reasons for casting decisions, and sometimes talent and hard work aren't the only factors involved.

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I sure wish you'd all responded "wow that never happens!" Being a nondancer, I was kind of hoping this was rare. My daughter sounds like your daughter's twin buzzandmoo - she's taking this little part SERIOUSLY and the idea that someone is going to mess up her scene really bothers her. The good news is in a few weeks, life will get back to normal!

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Guest coupe66

I sure wish you'd all responded "wow that never happens!" Being a nondancer, I was kind of hoping this was rare.

 

In our family's experience of 8 years in the ballet world so far, I have found it to be fairly commonplace, and have even seen this kind of thing at the "big name" pre-pro schools dk's have visited/have attended SI's at. I agree that it is frustrating when it occurs. Unfortunately, there isn't much (or anything) you will be able to do about it besides encouraging dd to continue to work on her role and keeping in mind that performances come and go, as you said. Best to chalk it up as a learning experience :)

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Some years are better than others, and I've been doing this a very long time!

 

As a rehearsal assistant, I am continuously and often teaching the children how to behave/rehearsal etiquette, prior to them being inserted into the professional company rehearsals. Most of them do quite well once they understand the rules and guidelines, as well as the possible consequences, i.e., they could either lose their part or lose some performances. BUT, after all, they are children, and not all are as mature and as able to control themselves once the boredom of long rehearsals sets in.

 

If I am dealing with a large group, say 90 or so of them, I do try to take the ones who are not needed at that very moment into a connecting space and try to keep them occupied so that the rehearsal can run as smoothly as possible.

 

However, there are still times that they must sit, and they must watch. If I have a particularly rambunctious group, you will find me sitting amongst them, or sitting them near someone else who can assist.

 

Know this: We who are involved do take notice of those who are focused and attentive, and their behavior is taken into consideration for other special events or performances in the future. Know also that those who are disruptive are noticed and their behavior is taken into consideration for future involvement too.

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Guest coupe66

Clara76,

 

I totally agree with your point that student performances are, after all, done by children who have varying degrees of maturity, etc. You sound like a wonderful, dedicated teacher, and I wish there were more like you! However, I would like to respectfully offer a different perspective regarding one thing that you mentioned: I wish all teachers noticed hardworking students, but in my experience, I have also witnessed kids (usually older pre-teens/middle teens) who act up in rehearsal and even class and are rewarded by the AD with not less, but more - more opportunities to perform, bigger roles, etc. Now, I realize that this is not ideal, and I applaud those AD's/teachers who do notice focused, attentive dancers; but the opposite is an issue that some of us have been confronted with, and it is incredibly discouraging, especially when you have a dk who is really focused and serious. Not saying that that is/will be the outcome with CO-Mom's dd, but did want to mention that while what you are doing as a teacher is ideal, there are also other, less ideal outcomes relating to this type of misbehavior that some of us have dealt with at times.

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