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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Correction question


NikkisMamma

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Ok, this is something I have noticed at DDs studio, and was curious if it happens at other studios as well. Our studio is well renowned and I believe DD is getting a solid, good ballet education and I have been pleased with her teachers. We do SIs at our home studio with "famous" well known guest teachers. This is something that goes on during that time as well as during the regular classes.

Keep in mind that I am not a dancer or a dance teacher, and of course all kids have different strengths and weaknesses and they're all learning. Watching from the outside, you can still kinda see who is performing the exercises "better" than others.

What I have seen, and is continuing to see during this SI especially, is that the kids who are in the upper half of the class as far as what it looks like to the untrained eye, get quite a bit of corrections. Without trying to be in any way condescending or gloating, my kid is in the upper half, and we're grateful for the corrections. She knows the teachers give them to make the students better dancers and she is very aware of how helpful and necessary corrections are. She's of course thrilled when she feels she has listened to the corrections, learned to do something better and then get noticed for that or doesn't get the same correction again. :)

However, it seems like a few of the kids who aren't doing so well and in fact executing the exercises very poorly, don't get corrected at all. One of my DDs friends is in this situation, and watching the poor kid from the outside she is really struggling with everything. For the upcoming school year, this child was put back a level and has no idea *why* at all because apparently her normal teacher doesn't correct her either (she's in a different level than my DD but they have SI classes together which is why I've been able to observe her lately). It seems odd to correct minute adjustments but not huge ones. I know older dancers have said they sometimes felt "picked on" by certain teachers only to later have the teachers tell them they corrected them more/harder because they felt they had potential. Is that the case? Do teachers tend to "ignore" for lack of better word the students that show absolutely no potential? I mean, it is blatantly obvious from the outside that some of the kids are not even close to executing what the teachers demonstrated, yet they just basically walk right past them at the barre or don't correct them in a group dance. It makes me feel sad for those kids because they walk away thinking they're doing everything right and then getting blindsided with a move down, but at the same time I can also imagine that I would feel just as sad if those kids started to all of a sudden get the same corrections or having to do combinations over until they were up to par, because of course nobody wants to be singled out and feel "dumb" because they can't get it right...

I should mention that these are all 10-14yo, so most of them have been studying ballet for at least a couple of years, and most have also done pre-ballet classes at the same studio. This is just because I'm curious, my own kid is progressing just as she should and I have absolutely no complaints about her teaching or placement at all.

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I am only a parent but I would expect a teacher to give equal attention to all students. I should think an approximately equal number of corrections should be given to all since I assume all are paying a tuition. (I know some schools give scholarships) I would think that the teacher would make more basic corrections to those who need them and more of the fine tuning type to the more advanced. A school is there to teach not ignore students.

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I have seen similiar patterns in our small dance school but have understood it from the perspective that all corrections are for everyone- not just the person being told. My DS's class mates are told to listen to all corrections and assume they are doing something wrong also. I have also noticed that the students who struggle with a move are not directly corrected as much but are gently encouraged and complimented more for trying and improving. I have never asked the teacher about this but given the overall context it seems that they dont want to demoralise or constantly critique the struggling students- they want to reward improvement and hope they learn by listening and watching the others. Out of interest, I have noticed this same style of teaching in my adult yoga class. The newbies get less correction on their postures and those who have been going at it for awhile get lots of little postural 'fix ups'. As a non-dancer I dont know if there is a parallel there but as a teacher of adults, I can see the logic in that. To me, the struggling students shouldnt feel 'ignored' but like they are on the long path too and to have some hope they will improve. Kindness goes a long way. :mellow:

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I didn't mean to portray that the "struggling" students were being completely ignored, they're not, but definitely not given the minute attention to detail corrections that others are.

Thank you Thyme, I think that's more what I was thinking and hoping!

I absolutely understand that lots of corrections are made for *everyone*, as does my DD (in the level she just finished they're encouraged to write down all corrections whether made for *them* specifically or not), but I don't believe that some of the kids have caught on to that. Perhaps they will go into that more in their upcoming year or even the next one.

Some of these struggling ones have been in my DDs class several years ago and it was less obvious then than it is now, at 6yo they were all given similar corrections.

I could see where it would be a very difficult line to walk as a teacher, I wouldn't want anyone to feel like they can't do anything right, but rather be encouraged in what they do right... but I also believe that sometimes they *need* those corrections in order to know that they're not in fact doing it correct (hope that made sense). Must be really hard indeed, I'm glad I only teach up to age 4!! It's so much easier when they're so small and not worried about moving up levels or anything like that.

 

I also somewhat assume (yes, I know one shouldn't assume) that the summer intensive teachers perhaps don't want to interfere with the regular school/teachers or something by not overly correcting these students. I do know that some previous SI teachers were very hard on the struggling ones and actually doing just that, making them do the exercise over and over until they felt it was improved.... which resulted in tears, of course, so perhaps they've been encouraged to somewhat "soften" that approach.

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Once when my DD felt she wasn't receiving as many corrections, she went to the teacher and asked if she could have more. The teacher was delighted and explained that sometimes teachers aren't sure how often to correct some students because they aren't sure how students will take it. But, knowing that when ANY student wants more, the teacher said she is always glad to give more.

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An esteemed teacher and well-known former dancer shared with me once that everyone has an equal chance at corrections with her... that is her job - to teach and correct. She wants every single one of her students to dance as beautifully and cleanly as they can. If she continually has to give the same correction or if she sees a lack of interest/focus/progress from the student on said correction, she will refocus her energies elsewhere.

 

Sometimes, if a student fails to apply corrections, it is not an indication that the student doesn't care, but that she is not at the correct level she needs to be at in order to progress. Maybe the bump down to a lower level is a loving act from someone who wishes this student to progress rather than drown?

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If she continually has to give the same correction or if she sees a lack of interest/focus/progress from the student on said correction, she will refocus her energies elsewhere.

 

Sometimes, if a student fails to apply corrections, it is not an indication that the student doesn't care, but that she is not at the correct level she needs to be at in order to progress. Maybe the bump down to a lower level is a loving act from someone who wishes this student to progress rather than drown?

 

I can totally see this. As a matter of fact, I gently suggested to the Mom (who is a friend of mine) of the particular child being moved down that the teacher probably felt she had some difficulty with some technique and that it may be better for her to go over it and fine tune before being (perhaps) moved back up with her peers. We were all quite surprised when this student was moved up a level (with her peers) last year, she would have truly benefited from being held back then rather than moved down now, I think.

 

It's always difficult to get told you're not doing something right, and there are times when my DD struggles with it if she gets the same correction and she feels she's working hard on changing it... but 99% of the time she truly does like getting them and feels that they're very helpful. She really enjoys the guest teachers at her SI because they give her new, fresh things to think about. I know at this age a lot of them do still take it more personally and I could see again how difficult it would be as a teacher to find the right balance.

 

MamatoMary, I like that!! I bet it is nice for teachers to know their students have that desire to learn and better themselves!

 

Thanks for the insights!!

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NikkisMamma-I have also seen this at my dd's studio. What would you think about a scenario such as this? One dancer gets a lot of detailed corrections for the finer things in ballet because she is considered to have potential. However, she rarely, if ever receives compliments. On the other hand, another dancer receives a lot of compliments...

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For me, I think it would totally depend on how it's done. *I* would expect a young dancer to get corrections more than compliments BUT I would love to see the dancer complimented or at least acknowledged when they apply those corrections, even if it's a simple "better" or "good", or even a satisfied nod in passing. If the other dancer is same level/similar potential and also receives a lot of corrections but only one ever gets complimented, it would definitely get under my skin.

If the other dancer doesn't show nearly the same potential (to an untrained eye at least) then I would probably think along the lines of Thymes post above, where the teacher is trying to encourage a struggling student to not give up while being harder on the gifted student to push them even further. Is it the right way? No clue, but I've heard of it happening from older (more talented) students at our studio.

 

I will say that we've been lucky in that so far, DDs teachers do seem to be at ease with giving compliments and I often see (through the parent observation window) how DD beams when she gets noticed for correcting something or pointed out for doing something well.

 

I could imagine if one ONLY ever gets corrections and never gets noticed for doing something well, it would be disheartening and frustrating.

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  • 1 month later...

I hate to say this but if a child isn't being corrected, what good is the class? I have seen some poor kids be completely ignored during every class and the same ones get all the corrections. Might as well follow a video at home and save your money.

 

The young ones need proper placement and they need the instructor to show them how. I am not sure young dancers can always apply others' corrections to themselves if they don't understand placement.

 

Some teachers are better than others at spreading around the corrections and for many reasons. You just never really know.

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Does anyone have any suggestions for how to talk to my daughter about corrections? She is seven, almost eight, and finds herself getting more corrections than she is used to in the extra intensive class she was recommended for. Although she is very mature in many ways, the corrections, combined with being the youngest in the class, are starting to make her feel as though she doesn't belong. I know that she will, perhaps, develop a thicker skin in time, but is there a way to help her view the corrections in a more positive light?

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Corrections are a sign that the teacher is interested in progressing the child because the child has the potential and capablility. A good teacher will not give a child more corrections than she can handle and typically, the corrections are progressive. That is, once *this* is fixed, the teacher will give the next correction, ad infinitum.

 

Older dancers cherish and crave corrections. But, too many, too fast can be discouraging----especially to one so young.

 

The best idea is to encourage your DD to view corrections as good things---not something to dread or feel down about. Corrections are the best way to improve.

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kat23 - My daughter was the same for a while. Each correction made her feel that she would never be good enough. She read a book by Susan Jaffe a couple of years back, 'Becoming a Ballerina', and found in it a quote that changed everything for her. I can't remember it word for word, but it was essentially that every correction that you receive is proof that your instructor cares enough about your training to correct you. Now (9 years old), she isn't happy unless he receives corrections.

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Thank you both for your reassuring responses. And I will look for the Susan Jaffe book. It sounds like it might help her put everything into the proper perspective.

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