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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Changing studio


Sharon B

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Last night I did something new, went to a different studio other than the one I've been going to for over 20 years. ( 20 years, yes, I am that old lol), I'm not sure whether or not I'll go back, the facility is awesome, people nice, and it is affiliated with the ballet company where I live. However, the class is a pretty generic "adult" ballet class: exceptionally basic, even more basic than the intro class where I've been going ( I've been taking intro, beginner and intermediate Vaganova based classes), definitely not challenging in the least, but the teacher is sweet, nice,and corrects people ( I worked on shoulders....).

 

I didn't hate the class, and was happy to realize that my passion for ballet isn't the problem, the problem is the old studio (not so much the teachers), and some of the people who go there ( the reasons will make for another post or private message if people are interested). There are a couple of other places I want to check out, of course they aren't as convenient, but I may just have to get over this. Thoughts, would you sacrifice quality/difficulty, for comfortability/respect. I love the teachers at the old studio, and classes even intro are challenging ( well if you let them be).

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One of the things I like best about ballet is that it's essentially impossible. There's always something about your technique that needs work and challenges you. As you found, even a basic class can provide that challenge, but would it satisfy you long term? Being the best student in a basic class is an ego boost, but nothing more. Might as well take up jazzercise. Score 1 for the studio that engages you better.

 

The wrong mix of students can poison any class. I like to start my day with a certain morning class, but quit going when a cadre of four women took it over. I wanted pliés, not politics but their constant side talking turned it into an hour and a half with Rush. The teacher called them the 'flat earth society' but apparently wanted their tuition dollars bad enough to not assert her authority. Eventually they moved on (to jazzercise?) and I started going again. Apparently I wasn't the only one who was sitting it out, because that class is now better attended than at any time in the past. Score 0 to any studio that lets the students dictate the class agenda.

 

Add your points and you come up with a net zero. That means you either have to keep searching for the best fit, or accept the limitations. You were vague about the nature of your old studio's problems. Is it something that could be corrected if the management was sufficiently motivated to change? Or maybe after 20 years, you need a change just to keep it fresh.

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If the new school has a good teacher who is making corrections, I suggest having a conversation with the teacher or program director about your goals. You can say how much you enjoyed the environment and thought the teaching was very good but explain that you want to be challenged, to progress and to dance at a higher level. See what happens.

 

On the flip side, if you love the teachers at the old school, you might have the same conversation with them. Explain that you think they are excellent teachers and that you enjoy the challenge of the classes but that you are thinking of switching studios because of the other dancers. They might not realize how close they are to losing your business because of those other dancers -- they might not even realize there's a problem that needs attention. (Or maybe they do... I can't know from what you've said.)

 

Or is it possible to combine different classes from the two schools for a while?

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I agree that ballet is next to impossible, and that one continuously is working on technique, and even on basics. However, in order to progress, one must learn more than how to plie and chasse across the floor. The wrong students have taken over, well at least they are making class miserable for me. it is a question of money, however, I know that I probably spend more money than these 3 students put together , but that doesn't seem to matter. The teacher at the new school is nice, and actually has subbed at my old studio, butthe class is kind of like a ballet for dummies class ( I don't want to be insulting, just suggest how simplistic and basic the class is). I feel as if everyone at the old studio is watching me, and not in a good way. I am pretty sure that they know there is a problem, but would rather ignore it or hope it goes away. There are a couple of other places I'd like to check out, but only my current studio has good weekend classes, none of the others offer open or adult classes on the weekend.

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Can you do a mix of classes from both studios? You're an adult and you can take whichever classes from wherever that suit your training needs and abilities. It sounds as though both studios offer you something, so maybe a combination would suit you, particularly for classes on the weekends? (lucky you for those).

 

The mix of abilities & levels in a class can be very frustrating though, can't it? I was at a studio where we weren't supposed to do classes other than at one level. They had had a couple of complaints that having more advanced adult dancers in lower level classes was "intimidating" to less advanced students. I complained at the time, saying that it was absolutely normal for recreational adult dancers to take a range of classes, and even at the advanced level, we had a range of abilities -- during the holidays, I'd be dancing alongside students at the RBS Upper School!! And although I suppose I could have felt intimidated, I held my head high & danced to the best of my ability as I was goimg to class for me. And they didn't enforce the rule most of the time, anyway.

 

Personally, I felt that they turned a blind eye to a far bigger problem: less advanced dancers in a class over their head, but who didn't realise this. Space management, almost falling over someone going the wrong way, no etiquette -- not following the basic rule that if you're unsure of what you are doing, what you do first of all is stay out of everyone else's way! And so on.

 

But the other side of this is that as adults, we should be able just to breathe, tell ourselves we're grown ups (oh, how many times I have to tell myself that) and get over own frustrations (after venting here which always helps me :devil: !) You only have to read some of the threads in the Parents of Dancers forums to see the dramas over changing studios for teens & pre-teens. We're lucky in that those sorts of politics don't need to affect us.

 

Good luck in finding a solution, and I hope you find a schedule that suits you.

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Thank you Redbookish, you are right as an adult I have the right to take classes where I choose, and fortunately it isn't the class itself or the teachers, but some of the people who come to the classes and how the owners/management seem to cater to them ( younger, prettier, more fun crowd). It is so uncomfortable when going across the floor that 2 weeks in a row, I stopped after barre, and quietly tried to mark in the back. i've even tried changing where I stand in class, sometimes it works, and sometimes I just can't escape to a safe place. It is a bigger problem, a wee bit of age discrimination, and a lot of just paying attention to those who yell the loudest. I haven't said anything because I know from experience it will fall on deaf ears. I could go on .....but won't beginning to feel a little better, must think through whether or not to go to class tomorrow am, it is my favorite class of the week, and one I really don't want to lose.

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Oh Sharon I feel for you. I am having the same problem. I have gone to a class for over a year, great teacher and there was a great group of students. Since Nov two teenagers have joined who commandeer the teacher and most of the class time. They seem to make no effort to even figure out the five positions. So my class has turned into "The Helpless Teenagers Show." I really wouldn't mind if they seemed like they were making any attempt to figure out ballet basics but they are asking the same questions they were asking three months ago. Love this studio but not sure how many more classes of this I can take. Last class the rest of us stood around for about half the class time waiting while the teacher helped them with basic positioning.

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Sorry Siobhan, definitely makes for a long, not enjoyable class when everyone isn't considered as part of the class. I have to write that the two teachers ( husband and wife) are really fantastic, I get a real, planned out, proper class when they teach, I went to a class at a different studio Thursday evening. it wasn't a bad class, but it definitely was not challenging, very little vocabulary, and almost no center/across the floor work. Was it a bad class, no, watered down. absolutely. The folks in the class were nice, and loved their class as much as I love classes where I have been studying. It is more some of the folks who come ( and these are adults) , the mid-twenties, early 30's folks, who are quick to complain, and think they are entitled to everything. And the ownership/management cater to these folks, and to those with money, loyalty doesn't seem to count at all. I can write that if I stood around in class while the teacher worked with 1 or 2 others, I'd probably leave. I am still looking into classes at other studios, problem is the classes where I am now fit into my schedule, and are close (within walking distance to my apartment).

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Siobhan, your class sounds soooooo unfortunate and uncomfortable, it gave me a shiver of vicarious sympathy just to read your description. Sharon, I would second the recommendation that you mix up classes, taking from two different studios. That way you won't be burning bridges, one class's flaws might offset the other's, make you appreciate what are the benefits of each one. It's good to hear you're still looking into classes at other studios, though, b/c, like you said, that second studio, with the pleasant but watered-down class, might not be the best long-term fit. (No center/across the floor work? Ouch - that's where the "real" dancing comes in! But I will confess that at one point I was taking that very kind of class for convenience reasons, and they were really nice people, and it was a fair compromise for 3 years.)

 

Great to step out of your comfort zone and try new classes/places, and great to return to the place where you feel most at home. Wishing you the best!

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For the past two weeks I have not gone to my regular Thursday classes at the old studio ( 1 intermediate, 1 intro). Instead I've been going to an "adult" class at another school. The class is ok, way too easy, even easier than the intro classes at my current studio. However, the teacher is nice, gives corrections, and teaches rather than flirts/talk with folks. I do know that my absence has been noticed, one of the interns (desk folks) asked me last Saturday where I was, I lied and said I was busy. I have been going to the weekend classes at the old studio 2 intermediate classes and sometimes a beginner class.

Class this morning was a challenge, one of the people who is giving me a hard time, who knows I am trying to simply avoid her, stands at the same barre with me, and the husband of the Saturday teacher, also stand at the same barrre. She proceeded to chat, comment and talk with him, at one point saying "I'm so sore from Thursday's class, knowing darn well that I wasn't in that class. I'm certain her comment was meant for my ears, along with the little smirk.

I just want to take class and be left alone. Person X is allowed to complain about me, but I can't complain about her without getting in trouble or looking like the bad person. She deliberately stood at the barre next to me today, and it threw me off. I am proud of myself, I wasn't rude, didn't make faces, but her being there made my favorite class miserable. The other two people who are her pals weren't there, fortunately. But one of her buddies, who is one of the interns, messaged me on fb to tell me what a horrible, mean person. I am This is driving me away, it feels like they are deliberately making class crappy for me. Complaining to the studio head is pointless, he loves to flirt with and mess with the young, pretty women, and all 3 of these folks fit this description, I don't fit that category., nor do I have tons of money which would also make me "attractive" and worthy of his attention.

The class at the other ballet school is not a long term answer, nice class but I will never progress., nor is there any opportunity for private lessons. ARGH! And I can't even let my frustrations out on fb anymore. Thanks for reading.....The saga continues....

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If someone is messaging you on Facebook to tell you that you're mean and horrible, block that person and any enablers. I know the term "friend" is used loosely there, but I don't see why you should put up with people who are actively antagonizing you.

 

And continue to try being pleasant but distant with them in class. If someone wants to rub it in that you missed Thursday by calling attention to how sore they are, just answer something like "Oh, that's too bad" and then disengage. If you don't react, they might get bored of you. If you otherwise enjoy the classes, it might be worth it to give it a go for a while longer.

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People are messaging you on Facebook? Isn't that harassment? This is crazy. On first reading, I wouldn't think that a comment about how another class made someone so sore would be meant for you - I would say that perhaps you're taking things a bit to heart, but I cannot believe people are harassing you online. Did you ever know them personally from before? What seriously was the root of this?

I'm shocked that this situation has gotten so personal.

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Sharon B, it sounds awful.

 

I think the messaging on Facebook is a kind of harassment and you should take that to the studio management. It is unacceptable to treat members of a studio that way via social media, and your studio needs to take some responsibility.

 

But for the other stuff, ignore, ignore, ignore ignore. Detach, disengage. You're there for class; do class. Wrap yourself in mental armour so you don't notice who is next to you at the barre, except to say a polite "Hello" nod & smile. And then, ignore, ignore, ignore ignore.

 

It's hard, I find it terribly difficult myself, but other people can't control the way you feel. Only you can control that. Disengage from the petty games.

 

But ....

 

Can I play devil's advocate for just a bit? This may be completely off-target so take my advice and "Ignore" if it is not helpful.

 

You say in your post

one of the people who is giving me a hard time, who knows I am trying to simply avoid her, stands at the same barre with me, and the husband of the Saturday teacher, also stand at the same barrre. She proceeded to chat, comment and talk with him, at one point saying "I'm so sore from Thursday's class, knowing darn well that I wasn't in that class. I'm certain her comment was meant for my ears, along with the little smirk.

How do you know? Maybe what you interpreted as a "smirk" was her flirtatious smile to the Thursday teacher? Maybe she really was sore after Thursday class? How do you know her comment was meant for you? Why not operate from a point of view where you're not letting your interpretation of her actions & words determine how you feel? Don't give her & the others the satisfaction of knowing they are getting to you. That way they "win."

 

Now, even if all these things are as you say, still ignore, ignore, ignore ignore. Do the class you love. Get what you can from it, and pretend these people are not in the room.

 

But report the FB messaging: that's harassment.

 

Good luck -- I really hope you can find some sort of solution or at least accommodation of the situation.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Class at the old studio really was awful Thursday night, barre which usually is one of my favorite parts of class, was an exercise in patience. One of the folks who is giving me a hard time ( the one who messaged me on fb to tell me how mean I am) decided to stand at the barre with me. It was a small class, and there wasn't any need for her to deliberately stand next to me. I'm beginning to feel like she/they are watching me. For the past couple of weeks I have making a conscious choice to stand on the opposite side of the studio ( which should be enough to keep them away from me) from the two/three who are bothering me. I figured that I'd stand at a different spot, focus just on me, and that they would continue to stand where they usually stand. It isn't working, well didn't work Thursday evening nor this past Sunday. Can I come right out and ask them to stand elsewhere? I really don't want to go there, as two of them work the desk at the studio and are prone to "chatting" and I simply don't trust them. I thought I had found a way to go back to the old studio, change where I stand, take work with me to do while I'm waiting/stretching,.

Because barre was such a fiasco, I just marked the rest of the class in the back. Not much fun, and definitely not worth what I am paying to take class. I may go back to the slower class I attended a couple of weeks ago, alas that class simply isn't a challenge. Curious as to what folks do when the teacher focus on, chats with 1-2 individuals the entire class, (and not skilled teens who happen to be in class). Really an ongoing 20 minute conversation the first 20 minutes of class with two ( one of them the person standing next to me) about going out, drinking,etc. I like the teacher, he is generally a good, tough teacher, but now the only one he is giving any corrections to is 1 person, and she in turn, well eats it up., smiles and coos in class, preens in the mirror, but of course she isn't flirting.... Guess I had better stop, just needed to express what I've been feeling and encountering for the past week, thanks much.

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Oh SharonB, that is such a sad post. I really really wish there had bee a better outcome for you. I know you've probably thought of this, or tried it, but is there any point in having a word with the teacher? Even just to explain why you're not going to take his class any more?

 

The really tough thing is, that to me as I read your latest post, it is clear just how much they have got under your skin. They have your energy & attention & they know it. If you could detach, detach, detach, ignore, ignore, ignore. Pretend that they are not there.

 

Because I suspect that if it's clear to me, reading your account, it may well be clear to the people bullying you. They're getting a response from you so they keep doing it. It's horrible, but that is the emotional dynamic of bullying.

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