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Advanced dancer doing beginner's class


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First, bit of a background to set things in context.


I was an adult beginner started dancing in 2004. In 2008 I enrolled in a teaching training course and just graduated in July 2011. I have attempted the RAD advanced 2 exam in July but sadly failed (on pointe work... ah well...). I dance with an amateur company and we perform at old people's homes for the elderly, and libraries for children.


Having graduated I've gone back to a desk IT job, but at an opera and ballet company no less! A few weeks ago a member of the ballet company started a 1-hour beginners class for in-house staff, from 8-9am, one on Monday and one on Friday. I thought it'd be a good fit into my schedule as it's in the morning. I do 1 other advanced ballet class (1hr 15mins), 1 pointe class (1hr 45mins), and rehearsals (4 hours rehearsal block, but I probably dance a total of... 2 hours earlier in the process, and a lot less when we're just running through), and then between November and January we are doing 5 performances, all on Saturdays.


So I signed up and was allocated the Monday class, because I feel I could benefit from an easier class working on my hip placement, posture and alignment. Things like actually using my turnout and plié, keeping my leg behind me in arabesque, or hips square, or keep shoulders down, when I could actually afford the brain power to think about it and concentrate on it. In addition it's taught by a male teacher! I spoke to the teacher about my previous experience and he said it's fine for me to do his class.


Turns out my work colleague (let's call her S) had also signed up and been allocated the Monday class. She first started off by saying something to the effect of "I don't think both of us can do this class, we need to be at our desk right at 9am." (Although I have already checked with our boss and he's ok with us being a few minutes late for the time to walk from the studios back to the offices). Then on another occasion she remarked people who has knowledge should not be allowed into beginner's classes. I tried to explain that there are fundamental alignment and posture issues that I need to work with, not to mention sometimes I find beginners classes so much harder because of the strength required, and it's hard to not cheat and demand from yourself clean, neat and controlled technique!


Well clearly that explanation did not get into her head, because this morning a lady from another department popped in (let's call her A) and started chatting to S. (They were within earshot but I know better than to join in the conversation because S had made it clear that I'm not welcome in any conversation she makes with anyone else whether it is work related or not.) A said there was another person in their Friday class who had also danced before, and she felt intimidated and uncoordinated just by being in the same class as her.


I completely understand that, which is why when I go to that class I never go to the front (I stay on the sides or at the back). I don't participate in any banter and I just try to blend in. But the teacher decided to set chaines in the first class, and made us go 1 by 1 across the floor! (It was one of those "flip flip flip flip" stepping on flat ones, he didn't expect people to do full speed, to be fair. He said this will avoid any collisions and allow everyone to go at their own pace but kind of ruined my "blend in" plan). In the 2nd week he set chaines again, and before I started he told me to do full chaines. Plan even further ruined! I could hear people "wow"ing, which is not what I want!


Anyhow, S launched into a speech to A about how she thinks, again, that people who know how to dance should not be going to a beginner's class. How if you know how to paint you wouldn't go to a beginner's art class. And why if someone who knows how to dance would want to go to a beginner's class to "show off". I know she might be trying to make A feel better, but they both are sat just 6 feet away from me.


I've spoke to both S and A separately on different occasions to explain why I signed up for the class and how I found them challenging. In fact I didn't feel I actually needed to explain to anyone why I was going to any class, I don't feel it's anyone's business. And in class I didn't dance the way I dance because I wanted to show off, but if I don't do to the best of what I could do because I'm worried about what other people might think, then I might as well not be dancing at all.


I guess I'm feeling moody because I don't like being disliked, and I don't like people forming an opinion of me which I don't think is true. No I don't normally care what people think about me but she knows people across the organisation, she's very outspoken and I don't like the feeling of thinking she's going to bad-mouth me any time.


Rant over. Thanks for listening.



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I hear you! When I was training pre-professionally I took a beginner's class too in the evening, mainly to work on my own technique, because sometimes I feel taking pre-pro classes all on pointe made me forget about the very basics. So I was glad to have a calm class, no pointes, just me there for myself, with teacher hardly correcting me (was the same like the pre-pro class) and trying corrections from the day without thinking too much about hard exercises.


I was glad that everyone there was very supportive. I always wanted to stay in the back but sometimes the teacher would put me in the middle or front row so that they could copy when we did complicated stuff. I did not like that but in the end I took it more than being the teachers assistent. In the end, I even could teach this class!


I think your "friend" is jealouse because you are better/the best in class (which is completely normal and fine). I would keep taking that class and just try to overhear her. I know it is hard but I think it is the only thing you can do. I can understand her that advanced people should not take that class if teachers start to make harder exercises and so on. But if this isn't the case, she shouldn't complain and be happy that she has someone to take inspiration from. I am always happy when there is someone really amazing in my class than I can learn from watching (I try not to go with the same group so that I can watch and learn from).

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I'm normally all for sorting out our own differences as adults, but if (a) you've already explained yourself to these two women and (b ) they are whining about this in class where the teacher can overhear them, perhaps the teacher could say something? I'm thinking something along the lines of, "I've heard some chatter during class, and I want to remind everyone that we are all to be supportive of everyone who attends these classes. It will help you work better together for the rest of the day," and thinking about adding specific comments only if a general one doesn't work.


What they are doing is very childish. We all have insecurities over some things in our lives. What we don't do -- or at least I try not to do! -- is bring other people down because of what are my own problems.

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Hi Fish! good to hear from you. Sounds like a great job -- I wish we had ballet classes on tap at my place ...


Anyway. I posted here a couple of years ago about a policy at my otherwise wonderful studio, when they decided to implement a policy that you could only attend classes at one level; ie they specifically didn't want more advanced dancers in beginners' classes. This was apparently in response to complaints they'd received: not from the ballet stream, but they then applied it as a blanket policy. Which is regularly flouted, I have to say -- I'm not the only one who attends both Advanced and Improvers classes.


It's a silly policy, because, for the reasons that you outline in your post, a Beginners class can be an excellent thing for anyone to attend.


I think we can all understand that beginners might feel intimidated by more advanced dancers, but on the other hand, it means there's someone to follow -- I like that even in my advanced class! And really, it's a reality of the grown up dance world.Your colleagues need to grow up & get over it, really. Particularly as you've followed a good & polite protocol of not dominating the class, and the teacher has okayed it.


Is it possible simply to ignore their pointed comments? Or ask your teacher to say something about all levels of dancers are welcome?


Anyway, it's good to hear about your dancing, even if it's an unpleasant situation you've posted about.

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You do not have to explain anything to these people. Further, passive-aggressive people should ignored until they learn to behave like grown-ups. It's also fun to watch them stew in their own juices as you refuse to respond to them.

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Unfortunately, pettiness, jealousy, and insecurity are still very much a part of life for adults......the saying is true, "High school never ends". I think you're going to have to ignore this, and then make sure you cover your rear end when it comes to work-related things. These women are not to be trusted and will likely look for ways to hurt you to make themselves feel better.

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(Ah I typed a whole reply and lost it all....)


To clarify, the said conversation happened in the office today late morning, it did not happen in the studio. I don't think the teacher is aware of my colleague's disapproval of myself in the class.


I am going to do exactly what I've been trying to do which is ignore. I guess I already have issue working with S: She doesn't delegate. She doesn't feed information back to me, which makes me feel like a phone and email-manning person rather than a proper member of the team. Furthermore she made it very clear that my information is not welcome at anything she has a part in dealing with (even if it would have saved her hours running around, on several occasions). This class thing just complicated things I suppose. During their conversation I was *this* close to just go "OK what's your problem? Let's have this out in the open." but I knew it would make things worse so I didn't say anything.


One part of me wants to work on things to make it better, but another part of me just feels like I shouldn't have to try so hard just to please one person who I wouldn't be friends with otherwise. I'm not sure if keeping interaction on a minimum and "need to" basis is going to be the best course of action. Is there any point of trying to "win her over"?.... Or maybe I just need to sit it out and accept the fact that not everyone in the world is going to like me.

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Do you both have a line manager? Her behaviour with regard to the efficient work of the team to which you both belong would seem to be counter-productive. Her passive-aggression over the ballet classes would seem to be more of the same.

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Yes we indeed have a line manager. But because we're a very small team he gets into doing hands on work as well (not the type of manager who sits there and directs, he does the dirty work as well). To be honest I don't feel very managed, and I certainly do not feel the company is getting their value for money in terms of my wages versus how much work I actually do.


(I understand if this gets off topic, sorry this is starting to look like a work environment counselling session!)


Is it worth it to chat with the teacher to ask him not to single me out? I just don't want to blow this out of proportion from what it already is....

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Here's an article about workplace bullying. Based upon your observations about this person talking about you within earshot and purposefully keeping you "out of the loop" on workplace manners, which essentially sabotages you, I think some of the advice may apply.




I went through almost two years of this type of behavior from my supervisor and sadly, ignoring the behavior, trying to win her over, etc...didn't pay off. I ended up resigning from a job I otherwise loved. I wish I had documented incidents and confronted the situation more directly. Bullying events can often be very insidious and seemingly difficult to bring up to another manager, but it can quickly get out of hand if not dealt with.


Sorry you have to deal with this immature behavior at work.

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Fish, I think Lampwick's absolutely right. I've been there, too. I got another far far better job, but it's an unpleasant experience altogether, and it's very difficult to deal with. What about having a word with your manager, saying just what you've said upthread


I certainly do not feel the company is getting their value for money in terms of my wages versus how much work I actually do.


But not about the passive-aggressive stuff?


Now, to wrench this back ON TOPIC -- a quiet word with your ballet teacher explaining that you have picked up that some in the class feel a little intimidated might also help? He'll know that it's their problem, not yours, but hopefully will understand the uncomfortable position you feel you're in at the moment.


That said, I sometimes almost deliberately 'mess up' an exercise if I'm asked to do it in a beginners' class. Well, for me, with chainés, it's not that difficult to mess it up, and sometimes I don't even need to do it deliberately!

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  • 1 year later...

Chinafish, it is too bad this petty behavior is ruining what could otherwise be a wonderful opportunity for you to enjoy working on your technique. As other folks have stated, you'll have to ignore it and hopefully something else will take the spotlight for the "kids". The difficulty that I see is that you have to work with at least one of the kids. It's not just at the studio that you're encountering these folks.


I do want you to know that personally, I enjoy when a more proficient dancer joins our class. I love having the chance to see different applications of the steps and - well - it's just nice to see anyone dancing well. I try to learn from these people. Perhaps there are other students in this class that feel as I do and enjoy having you participate. If that is true, then I would focus on that and your technique, and perhaps the music (if it's good).

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Aww, Fish, I'm sorry you are having difficulties with this person. Is it part of her job to keep you in the loop? If so, let your manager know it's not happening. As for class, don't even pay attention. Dance even better, try even harder, forget she is there and dance the h-e-doulbe hockey sticks out of even the easiest combination, work on epaulement and fluidity, alignment and projection. She sounds toxic and you should watch out. Dot every i and cross every t and cultivate your colleagues so people are on your side if she messes with you.

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Don't know what Fish's situation is right now -- her opening post was two years ago!

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