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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Wonderful teacher --- Bad floor... What to do?


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I finally found a wonderul teacher, new class, perfect level for me - farther to travel but worth it definitely. However, there is a big problem. This wonderul teacher's studio is in a shopping mall with a concrete floor covered over w/ marley and -- ouch! It's a hard surface.


I am very torn -- it is a great class for the information, the teaching, her beautiful technique, group of students and everything. But as an adult student (or even if I were younger) how is it possible to really dance full on, let alone even "carefully" - if one were to try to do that - without risk of injury or strain to knees, feet, etc. on a floor like this?


Should I risk possible ballet study-ending injury for the sake of taking a class that is otherwise perfect?


Do I stay w/ the other studio which is okay, has a sprung floor and great studio space,with a teacher that is okay (won't go into issues w/ the teaching of the other class here in this thread - that is kind of irrelevant to this present issue)...? There is another class that could compliment my other regular class albeit at a far more beginning level, with a far less qualified teacher at the good studio, that ultimately would probably do for me what I was seeking in this other class w/ the wonderful teacher. (That is, give me an opportunity, at a somewhat slower pace to clean up some technique and work on a few always-needed basics, to practice in a class.)


I realize it is a personal preference, or 'trade-off' in deciding this, but to me, no matter how fabulous the teacher, I can't see risking injury for any reason. Even if I miss out on the wonderful teacher, and my ballet study might take longer or be less effective, preventing injury to me, is the single most important thing to look out for, I feel. ...Want to make sure that I would not be missing a good opportunity though..... Thoughts? Ludmilla

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If you decide to stay where you are, I would let the "wonderful teacher" know why you are not coming. If she loses enough students because of the lack of putting in proper floor, perhaps she will re-think that decision. Yes, it is expensive. But she already has the marley. All she needs is someone who knows how to build it and buy the wood. We have information here on how to build. It can be done by friends, husbands, fathers of students in a pretty short period of time, actually. She just needs one person who knows what they are doing in terms of how the raised floors are built. Easy to find that out from any school that has one.

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If you think her teaching is valuable enough, could you do her barre (and maybe adage in the centre) on top of your usual class(es)? You could get the benefit of some of her teaching without too much risk. And, I agree: explaining your decision -- and even your concern before you make a decision -- is important.

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I danced for 8 years on concrete floors with linoleum tile and regularly on an asphalt parking lot. At the time, I only suffered shin-splints (a very common issue with my dance team) and didn't even know you shouldn't dance on those floors...it wasn't good training. I had no idea though... So it can be done- you sound pretty risk-adverse though, so I doubt you want to find out if it is worth it...



If you really feel the teacher is wonderful- could you just not jump? With so many injuries in my adult life (in no way related that I know of to the previous training), I've had classes where I didn't jump and I still got a lot from the classes. Perhaps the teachers can chime in whether there is injury risk related to doing other things on the floors, or if the issue is really just landing jumps, as I think it is.

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Ms. Leigh,


That is such a good suggestion. I think I will let her know and even if she does not choose to make any change to the floor immediately, possibly head her in the direction of doing something about it. Perhaps my voice will add to others who have commented the same thing aready... (Sadly though, I mentioned this issue to another student in this class who is also in one of the other classes I take, that this floor hurt my knees, and that student said "Oh, I think the floor is nice," so amazingly, in my town perhaps the idea of what is acceptable or not seems out of touch.) Thank you for letting me know your opinion on this. (.....PS yes, I do chuckle a bit though, because knowing the depth of your understanding, I see what you think of this "wonderful teacher" who teaches on a cement floor . :devil: ..............not much, and I definitely see where you are coming from, despite some other good traits ......)


gav and Skitt - Thanks for your comments.... That could be an option, yes to only do adage or barre and not jump. For me, I don't think I might be satisfied w/ that but it really helps to hear these as other possible options.

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So, yes, I absolutely agree on letting the teacher know why you aren't taking her classes if you aren't. And perhaps the no-jumping route will work for you, but if you go this route, please still let her know why you aren't jumping.


All she needs is someone who knows how to build it and buy the wood. We have information here on how to build. It can be done by friends, husbands, fathers of students in a pretty short period of time, actually. She just needs one person who knows what they are doing in terms of how the raised floors are built.


This sounds so simple, but some of us don't have anyone handy in our lives! :( And my personal experience would suggest that not all of us have the strength for DIYing it. (Ever tried to cut marley in straight lines, people? That stuff is hard, and I was completely unable to cut it in a straight line on my own -- I just couldn't put enough arm strength into it to be steady! )


I know when I think about start-up costs for starting my own school, the one that really kills me is the flooring -- I just don't have that kind of money up front, and yet it's non-negotiable in my mind. For me, no good floor = no school.

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Frequently teachers themselves do not have control over the floor. They may be renting the space from a studio, or they may teach for the studio and receive payment as a contractor.


I know that there is a teacher whom I love who teaches way on the other side of town. I used to take her classes when they were held on Sundays at a university dance department that had wonderful floors. She now teaches her adult classes at the studio where she teaches children in the evenings. The studio is owned by someone else, and the space is rented by this studio as opposed to the owner owning the building. The floors are Marley over linoleum over concrete. Now that I am in my mid-40s, there is no way I could take class on that floor. I agree that taking barre, doing adage and possibly tendus and a few pirouettes wouldn't hurt, but I would say no to the jumping. Mature bodies deserve to have shock properly absorbed. Landing on a hard surface is not good for the spine as well as all lower body joints.

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insidesoloist and tangerinetwist -- Thanks so much for commenting! (If I pose a question here at BT I do that after many nights -- sometimes for weeks - 'tossing and turning', and considering the problem. Before asking here I've tried to come up with an easy, simple solution and when I ask here after deliberating like this, it is because no easy solution seems possible.)


Your comments as w/ all above really help because I have such limited adult ballet class options where I am... but as you both point out, dealing w/ the floor is a big investment for a school and yes the particular teacher I like may have no control over it unless the AD or owner of the school has interest in doing something - and in my geographical area - maybe in others - the child students simply bring in the big money (and I guess they, or their parents are not concerned about cement floors?.....) tangerinetwist as you say -- and I fully agree!!! -- later in life jumping on a cement floor is simply unthinkable for the body! (My hips hurt even thinking about that floor......!)


You've all made my decision much easier... 1) That floor is a 'no-go' for me, period. 2) Letting her know why........why not jumping, or why can't take the class -- again those are things I would not have thought of but which might possibly, ultimately result in a change at the school tho' they seem to be doing just fine, anyway, floor and all...........


Thanks again! I so appreciate all your thoughts, as always.

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From my experience, it is not that parents aren't concerned about the concrete floor, it is that they don't even know they should be concerned.

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I completely agree that dancing on a bad floor is not good at all; even less so when one is doing it daily for many hours.

It is also sadly true that many of us teachers who do not have our own schools have no control at all over the floors where we teach.


Really difficult, knowing what needs to be done, and not being able to do it.



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diane -


Thanks for commenting from your perspective as a teacher. As a student, I can simply pick up my ballet slippers and take class elsewhere.


Even in my (smallish) town there are two other schools feasible for me to get to with sprung floors and I will stick w/ the better of those two options... I'll be able to get the instruction I am looking for - one a more beginning class to polish technique, another somewhat more intermediate, to get more advanced practice. Too bad about that other teacher though -- I could have seen taking class from her for years if that studio had the right facilities....(in my town teachers move around, too, so I would not even be surprised if at some point she comes to teach at the school where I take most of my classes)..... As we say here, "It's a small town!" :grinning:

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If I found a teacher and class that I loved, I'd take it no matter what the facilities were. I think meeting the right people is critical to personal development no matter what one is trying to develop. If the people you believe are really good, they will factor in distractions like having less than the best facilities.


I also think people in physical activities worry way to much about injury. When you are riding a bike and you see a big pot hole, something inside you just guides you right into that pot hole.

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Garyecht -- Interesting idea...I agree w/ much of what you are saying, actually. For ballet though, in terms of jumping in all forms, how can one ignore the floor? As I said at the top of this thread, I am torn, and I agree w/ you that a teacher's abilities to teach overcome many drawbacks in facilities - the floor though is one that I see as much harder to overcome. I do not fear injury as in, I'd be laid up immediately, (and I really dislike bringing up age repeatedly) but when much younger, my body could heal from a bout of dancing on almost any floor at all - or many things, for that matter. It's just not so, now.


For me anything at all that involves jumping - I do not mind adage or even pirouettes, or probably most things at barre either, on a harder floor - but jumping, there just is no way around it!


What I'm most interested in is, how would you specifically handle jumping on a hard floor -- or sitting out that part of the class (though that is not like me and I can't see doing that - it seems counter-productive), knowing that one time may not be a problem but taking class at least once a week there over time could be injurious? I guess I could try it out and if the floor became of such concern just stop going to the class (but once I become used to a class and like it I then have a very painful time leaving it..)...I guess deep down that is one of my concerns as I consider the question myself... Odd -- fear of losing the class if I get to like it a lot and due to injury/wearing on my joints, I just have to stay away...... For me emotionally it is easier not to start taking the class in the first place...... an odd thing to admit, I know.


Is your thought trying out the class, seeing if I would be okay with somehow "sitting out" or just "marking" the jumps and really work in the rest of the class time and get out of it the positive things that I can.....? Something to possibly consider, though...... Thanks for another approach....

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You need to have an honest talk with the teacher. If she is fine with you sitting out for allegro work, then problem semi-solved. If she is not understanding of your concerns, than walk away because do you really want to study from someone who is not concerned about your health?


No, teachers do not always have an option of where they teach.... but if the owner is losing students, they will want to know why and possibly correct it.


I would never have opened my studio without correct sprung floors, just like I would never put someone on pointe if they were not physically capable of it. There are standards of student health protection that come before profit.

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