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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Am I getting upset for a silly reason?


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There is a 14 year old who keeps coming to a certain teacher's adult class - she is her student. I wouldn't mind so much if she didn't push herself forward all the time and stand there looking as if she is the ballerina in a group of clods! She has an annoying habit of looking at herself in the mirror all the time and adjusting the legs of her leotard so that they are almost up to her waist. She doesn't have good facilities, so although she knows masses of advanced steps and the teacher apparently uses her advanced enchainements also for her students, because she can sort of do them all, she doesn't really do them with clean technique. For example her brises land on one foot then the other, instead of on two feet and anyway in general she has poor foot work.


The thing is the teacher often asks her to demonstrate because she knows her enchainements or to come forward so that we can copy her (!!!!!) and I can't help it - it annoys me. I have been dancing for too many years for a snippet of a girl to show me an enchainement and I also don't think that she should be allowed to join an adult class on a regular basis. This board is restricted to 18 and over because it is an adult students board - if a young teen tried to post the moderators would stop her and rightly so - we need to feel comfortable in our zones. I realise that the teacher is unable to demonstrate these days, but there are several ex pros in the class and other experienced dancers (this is not a beginner class) - all we need is to have the enchainement broken down into recognisable steps and we can pick it up without having it demonstrated fully. It doesn't seem to bother the other people in the class - perhaps they're more tolerant than me - but it is really bothering me. Perhaps I should say something to the teacher and I could because we've known each other for years, but I don't want her to think that I'm petty minded. Would this annoy you too or am I really making a mountain out of a molehill?

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Sometimes I've had teens in my adult class who were there to make up for a missed class or because the teacher wanted them to put in extra time to catch up with their peers. Sometimes they were more advanced than us, sometimes they weren't. It never bothered me (nor if they were demonstrating), and they were generally very nice girls.


I get the impression that you're bothered because you think this girl has a bit of an attitude. How much of this is your own projection?

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I wish I knew, Janneke! But it's really spoiling the class for me, which also annoys me - I don't know who I'm mad at more - the girl - or myself for letting it bother me :(


If she were really something special and didn't project this "I am G-d's gift to ballet" attitude I doubt that it would bother me in the same way.......

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Our adult open classes are for ages 15 & up. These younger students that sometimes come to class are all good dancers and very gracious. Then can execute steps more gracefully than myself.


At the end of the day, getting yourself worked up about it isn't going to change the fact that this girl is going to come to class. The only thing you can control is how you react to it

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We all get this occasionally, not just in ballet class, and yes, it is a bit silly to get upset, but hey, it's human.


I don't think you should mention it to the teacher, unless the girl is really doing something concrete to disrupt the class. If she doesn't bother anyone else, then you're right, the teacher might think you're a bit petty. Would you like her to stop the girl from coming to class? Stop her from standing at the front? Or just stop using her for demonstrations?

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Ok. I totally identify with the post. I would be annoyed to and it sounds like this girl is rather smug to make matters even worse. That being said, I hope you may be able to indulge my thoughts on this situation as someone who sounds similar to yourself.


As an adult learner, I often find myself getting ticked off with people on occasion in class, but being older (32 now) it is both a sadness and joy to have the insight into myself to see that sometimes this is because I am jealous. I am not saying that you are, I'm just saying I have in the past found I am.


As someone who really never did any ballet as a youngster and is not naturally co ordiated I have had to fight and work for every slow coming improvement. Sometimes new participants are just naturally faster at learning than me and I find myself (with the best will in the world) becoming very internally resentful. The other time was with an advanced student who came to beginners for a while who was fabulous - I took an instant dislike to her.


I started to notice myself feeling very negative to these people and rejoicing in any mistakes I saw them do.


Happily, because i am older or more knowledgeable about myself these days I identified what was going on and realised I was in danger of becoming a classic ballet meanie. I made myself go and befriend these two people and all my attitude fell away. They weren't being smug, it was just ballet poise of someone who is good and my issues put on to them.


I was in the same situation as you, so irritated by them that it was ruining my class but it was all my own issues of jealousy. There will always be someone better than you, it's YOUR progress against yourself that matters. it's not always easy as adults because anyone who starts late i think has a personality that wants to be the best all the time but we have to face that we may not always be and instead I try to be happy for them and learn from them. Not always easy, but when I slip up I remember I'm human and working really hard both at ballet and becoming a better person :)


This may not be what is going on at all but just a thought.

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If I am to do some soul searching, I can honestly say that I'm definitely not jealous of her and certainly do not feel threatened by her. In a way I feel a bit sorry for her, because her ego is being boosted all the time by being asked to demonstrate to a class of adults, who are a mixture of ex pro ballet dancers and modern dancers and other fairly advanced adult dancers - teenage students do not normally attend our morning classes - they learn in the afternoons at this dance centre. The trouble is that her technique is flawed and I really feel that she is being pushed too fast and needs to take a step back and correct her technique rather than doing such advanced enchainements, even though I'm impressed that she has such a wide vocabulary. I'm a ballet teacher myself and a former professional ballet dancer, so I do have the experience to be able to judge that.


The thing is that I'm still taking adult ballet classes even though I'm in my sixties and I love my classes. I find some things difficult nowadays - adage for instance - but I can still jump and turn and manage a full class, which gives me great satisfaction. I enjoy watching the younger dancers when they are good and often give compliments where they are deserved or offer help when it is needed and if I haven't managed to pick up something in an enchainement, I'm not too proud to ask somebody! I really have no objections to having someone else demonstrate for this teacher, I just resent this girl being used as an example to us all. And I wish she'd pull her leotard down to a normal level! I guess I'll just have to find a way to live with it - as someone said above the only thing I can control is my reaction to her......

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Hamorah, I think I actually agree with you, and it would most probably annoy me. If it were a class full of beginners it might be different as no-one would know a brise if they fell over one - but it's not, you all know the vocab, you don't need it to be demonstrated for you becuase you've done it all before!!


I have a horrible evil side that would want to go and stand in her spot and make sure she knew about it and perhaps leave one of those 80's g-string leotards in the dressing room! :) But the real me would probably just try and ignore it, I might bring it up with the teacher if it really got too bad - maybe something along the lines of you not wanting/needing the exercise demonstrated and the time could be allocated to more exercises (or something tactful) - it depends on the teacher, she might take it as a personal attack on her beloved student, which could be the other reason the student is there, perhaps the teacher is 'showing' her off...?


On the brise note, I am now teaching at a Vaganova-ish school and the brise landing one one foot seems to be the norm for some reason. I have always known that as a Bournioville brises, done in series, as opposed to our ordinary brise two feet to two feet. When the Bournonville is done well it is beautiful, when it is not it is hideous!!!

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I think you shouldn't let yourself get worked up over it - after all she is only 14! Don't let little things spoil something you love. Be grateful that you have the health, the time and the ability to dance. Cherish that and focus on those things and forget about what she does with her leotard or if she looks at herself in the mirror.


It may be easier to project your annoyance onto her than onto your teacher whom you have known for years, but in the end it's the teacher's choice to permit her to take the class and to use her as an example. When she is demonstrating just go into your inner happy place and disengage from those negative feelings. They aren't worth it, life really is too short.


Personally I wouldn't talk to the teacher because the result of that conversation may actually spoil the class for you more if she is not receptive or the conversation is awkward.

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"Dang little whippersnappers!! Hey! You kids get ouutta my yard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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as a brand newbie to the adult dance scene I wouldnt like this either- I know that isnt very mature and zen about things but I still wouldnt. I am not even keen on there being experienced dancers in my adult BEGINNER classes. Say what you want, I dont want to have to look at a 14 year old hitching her leo up in my class. I am with you here hamorah! Enough with the teenagers I say! They arent the only ones in the studio! Who decided they ruled things? (I hope you are hearing my irony here?) Inspite of all my spleen venting I wouldnt say anything except for under my breath in the back row. Given the chance (aka 'being asked for my opinion') I would definitely query whether this was 'needed' because it wouldnt be adding to my experience, that's for sure. The only other line of attack against these whipper snippers is to mount a rear guard by getting the troops together (the other middle aged ADULT dancers) and seeing if there is some agreement. Then at least you have others to complain with and that is always a good thing! :yucky:

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Thank you all - I discussed this with my friend today - she is also a former pro a little bit older than me and she doesn't like it either. We think it is because this kid somehow changes the vibes in the class. We are all very laid back in our morning classes - no rivalry, no judging, just enjoyment and working hard and doing the best we can. We are all quite comfortable with each other and there really is a good atmosphere in the class, encouraging, sympathetic and serious all at the same time! When the girl is there, although I may be imagining it, there is a certain tension in the air, which spoils it for me. Oh well, I'll just have to learn to ignore her I guess. Thank you for allowing me to moan - it really has helped :)


By the way she doesn't do the landing on one foot Russian brise, which if I am not mistaken lands on the working foot first and the other does a step forward (like the series in Albrecht's second act Giselle solo). She lands on the supporting leg (the one you push off from) and then closes the other, which is definitely wrong!

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Our adult classes are generally 18 and above, but we have people from 19 upwards, which seems fine (apart from making me feel about a hundred and three.....)


Occasionally a younger teenager comes to class, in which case our teacher tends to invite them to her teenagers class (I think she has both an Inter-foundation class and a mixed ability 'beginner' class for 11-16's at the moment. The children's classes are relatively new...)


Agree it is totally about the atmosphere though - whilst we are all serious about being in class, we are also there for fun. None of us are going to be Darcey Bussell, and there aren't really any ego's. I think I might have struggled as a teenager to fit in with that, where as now, it's a comfortable environment for me.

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I completely understand what you mean about the class atmosphere - it is so important. Well, with a bit of luck maybe she will sense it and high-tail it outta there. Until then, goodluck, and enjoy the view from the high road :)

Edited by Miss Persistent
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Class atmosphere is so important, most of the time in my classes the atmosphere is pretty good. There are occasionally kids ( 16 and older) who take class, but they are pretty awesome, focused on themselves, know what they are doing. and respectful of the adult ( pro or otherwise) who are there. It is the entitled generation that causes difficulties sometimes in the classes I take. There are a group of 3-4 (26 - 30 ish) who come, flirt with the teacher, show off, go across the floor more than the usual 2 times, hog the space in the back where others are trying to mark, and are in general rude and disrespectful. I guess it is that they think by being cute, sexy and interested that they will get more attention. I definitely prefer the "kids" to these folks.

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