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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Frustrated with current studio and the AD


momto2ballerinas

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Hello!

 

First let me say that this forum has been a wealth of information for both myself and my DD. It's a real gem! Ok, down to the topic at hand.

 

We've been at the same ballet studio for my DD13's entire dance training, approximately 9 years now. The studio has changed hands and has a new AD that does not have a dance background whatsoever.

 

My DD13 and several of her classmates in her level feel like they are being held back and given very basic roles in the school's production. There is very clear favoritism going with the same girls getting all of the prominent roles every show. It's so cliquish that it reminds me of jr. high lol. And I'm talking about the teachers and AD, not the girls!

 

Anyhow, my DD13 was accepted into a Russian summer intensive and can hardly wait! I told the AD and her reaction was very unprofessional. She shook her head "no" at me and then told me that my DD will most likely end up injured. Furthermore, she went on very negatively and said that the new AD at this Russian school is horrible and it's going down the tubes and again reiterated how she'd end up injured. I was shocked by how rude she was being. To make matters worse, she told me to be prepared for the horrible part of town this school is in, that the building was gated for safety and literally had barbed wire running all around it. I kid you not. At this point, I was just trying to keep my mouth from hanging open in surprise. I told her that we'd visited the school and were very, very impressed.

 

This is really the straw that broke the camel's back for my DD and myself. We've already been trying out other studios. How should we leave things with our current studio? Should we just finish out the rest of the session and then not return in the fall? I really do not want to explain anything to her at this point and am worried that, out of spite, she will say something belittling or mean spirited to my DD regarding her dance ability. Thanks so much!

 

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Are you looking to relocate your DD to the "Russian" program she is attending this summer? If so, you may politely say good bye to your DD's current school and begin anew. If you are hoping to return to your DD's current school in the fall, politely say goodbye, see you in the fall.

 

As for your DD's current AD's impression of the school you have visited, it is wonderful that you had visited the program and have your information in place. Wish your DD well at her SI and relax. Enjoy your summer.

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No, the summer intensive isn't a school we could afford year round. But we are looking to leave and have found a Russian based school that my DD has done several classes at. So, yes, we are going to leave after this session at her current school.

 

Thank you for your advice :flowers: I know DD will love her summer intensive. I was just put off by the AD making those comments. When I questioned if she even knew anyone who'd attended she said no. I'm not sure how she got her information but I found it unprofessional for to be so rude. It came across as if she was angry that my DD wasn't doing the AD's summer intensive at her current school and was trying to scare me by saying my DD would end up injured and that the school's location was very bad and unsafe.

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The best way to leave a studio is via the high road. And, in your shoes, I would be leaving this studio. :)

 

When it is best to leave is up to you---either at the end of the session, which is surely coming up very soon, or now. It would depend on how much miserable your DD is there daily. As long as she is not being put in harms way either physically or emotionally, I'd probably finish the session unless it is eons from now.

 

As to what to say. Well, the best and safest statement is: "I only want to play baseball" line from the Bull Durham movie. For this purpose, the line would be "My DD just wants to dance" delivered with a nice smile and a change of subject. You owe no one any further explanation, really. If someone presses, just stick to the mantra and tell them you feel she needs something a little different at this point in her training.

 

DO NOT bad-mouth the current studio, teachers, or AD. Faint praise or silence is all that is necessary. You will change no one's mind about how the studio should be run, so don't even try. If another parent truly seeks your opinion, well, discuss it privately away from the studio itself. And only state it in terms of your DD's needs, wants, personality, and training atmosphere. Apparently, the studio as it currently is works for some and if that is what the AD wants, then that's how it will stay. So, don't recruit or lead a revolt. Just go where you feel YOUR DD will get the best training for her needs.

 

Best wishes!!!

 

(This is an issue that comes up quite a bit here on BT4D, so you might look around and find a lot of sage advice in older threads, probably in both Parents Forums.)

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Agreed with all of the above, particularly dancemaven! Take the high road, and hopefully the AD will, as well--but be prepared if she chooses the low road. Some teachers/ADs just can't handle anyone's departure, and may react unpredictably. Ours avoided me for weeks, then went completely bonkers.

 

Since we couldn't say anything nice about our former studio (where the teacher behavior became very similar to what you described), we didn't say anything at all. But in instances where we were pressed to make a comment, such as when asked by other studio families why we were leaving, I would simply say that DD and teacher "outgrew each other" and decided DD needed a different fit.

 

It's an imperfect answer, but one that preserves the reputation of both dancer and teacher. And people seem to end their line of questioning once it's said. DD and I still using it, even more than a year after we left our old studio. DD is happier than ever now!

 

(Plus, when we ran into the former teacher at the grocery store, we didn't have to run and hide in another aisle :innocent:. We managed to have a genuinely friendly exchange and all was well.)

 

Good luck to you and your DD! I hope she enjoys that intensive, which she earned and should be proud of!

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Thank you for your wise advice! My initial reaction to the AD's comments were to let her know exactly why we'd be leaving her studio but I know that wouldn't be productive at all. She is making changes left and right, changes that are angering many parents and that are being made without any input or consideration from them. I realize that no studio is perfect but my DD is so miserable here that we finally made the decision to leave.

 

I like your mantra advice too! "My DD just wants to dance" is perfect. It's like that line from Jerry Maguire "I just want to play football". I have talked with two other moms who are leaving as well but it's always been in private. We have to do what is best for our DD's and their dance needs. Those needs do NOT include being demeaned in class or overlooked repeatedly. Not to mention how the AD treats them. Time to move on! Thank you so much, this forum is very helpful :yes:

Edited by momto2ballerinas
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When dd's ages 14 and 10 left our previous studio last fall, we told the AD and staff exactly why we were leaving. We didn't do it in a snotty way but felt that they deserved to know why we were unhappy and to have a chance to respond. My daughters felt they were ignored and that the teachers and staff did not seem to invest the time in them that they do for the "favorites". To be successful, a school has to pay attention to all of their students, not just the chosen few or the ones that pay a lot of extra money for private lessons and donations. We paid our tuition, donated time and money (what we could afford, with no thank you) and the girls were attentive and eager to learn. Unfortunately, they were not naturals. We made the right decision. The new studio helps my daughters be the best dancers that they can be. They have blossomed. When asked why we left the old studio, I tell people that it wasn't a good fit for us, that their focus is not our focus. However, they have wonderful teachers and families and are successful with many other students.

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When it comes to leaving any studio, I think it's important to remember how very small the dance world is. As the mother of a DD(16) and a former dancer, I cannot believe how much my "old life" as a student in my teens has come back to haunt me as a mom in her mid- 40's now. Funny enough, my favorite teacher(as I still take class on occasion) was one of my former teachers that I left as a teen because it was time to move on to another studio. I see many of the same teachers that I trained with in my youth, now at YAGP when I accompany my DD, who have moved into different schools and even different states. As a teenager I was sure I would never see them again. You just never know. Try to leave on a high note, even if you are just furious with the school. I know many mom's(and dad's) at my DD's school who really think from time to time that their DK is being treated wrong. And sometimes that is the case for sure. Rather than raking the teacher and school over the coals, I too recommend "taking the high road". We live in a large metropolitan area, and gossip is fierce. Be known as the gracious family who felt "it is time for change" and move on.

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It's often fear that causes such a reaction against an SI by a studio owner/teacher. She's running a business and doesn't want to lose the income. It could be because she's afraid that your leaving might cause a mass exodus and then her business could be in jeopardy. So she denigrates any SI that might open your daughter's and your eyes to a better dancing path.

 

Sometimes teachers do that because they love the student so much they can't bear to lose her. They have had plans for that student's progress and then their hopes and goals get taken away from them, so there's a grieving process that can start with an outburst. Many people protect themselves from those feelings of loss by going on the offense. "Best defense is a good offense." But in your case, it doesn't sound like that at all. It sounds more like she doesn't want to lose the money or risk losing other students as her school gets compared to a more professional school.

 

I agree with the others about taking the high road. A simple "thank you" and "goodbye" is sufficient. What I have seen over the years is that often, when people are careful with their goodbyes, they are able to meet much later with nothing but fondness. The people who can't aren't worth your energy.

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[pumpkinangel]'

 

I agree that a successful school *should* pay attention to all of their students, which is a huge reason for our leaving. My DD and her classmates are dejected because only 1 or 2 girls get the corrections in class and they receive the solos and special parts. If it was equal, I'm sure we'd feel differently. However it most decidedly is not.

 

I think that's one of the most frustrating parts, my DD and her BFF at dance are so incredibly eager! They WANT to learn and push further but are being held back. As a teacher, I'd think you'd delight in seeing that in your students.

 

We've done our research, taken multiple trial classes and feel very good about where we're switching DD to. She can hardly wait! It was almost like the final nail in the coffin when her AD made such negative comments about where she's going for summer intensive. Honestly, she made the decision easier lol.

 

I'm torn about whether or not to let the AD know why we're leaving though. My DH thinks I should politely tell them our reasons but like others have said, the dance world is a small world, especially in our area. Plus, I don't think it would go over well, no matter how kindly I say it.

Edited by dancemaven
Removed full quote of previous post to conserve bandwidth.
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[pirouetteprincess]'

 

Thank you! This is what I worry about, just how small the dance world is! I don't want to create issues later on down the road for my DD. The gossip at her studio is off the charts lol. I'm leaning more towards just saying "while we've been here for many years, my DD's dancing needs have changed and she desires a Russian based school." It will be hard though to not list the reasons why we're leaving, particularly that some of the teachers are downright cruel and demeaning and the AD doesn't know a pointe shoe from a ballet slipper :whistling: But I won't say that, at least not out loud!

Edited by dancemaven
Removed full quote of previous post to conserve bandwidth.
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[vagansmom]'

 

It would be nice if the AD truly had plans for my DD and cared about her. That is not the case though. Frankly, she was angry and I know it's because many students are not taking her summer intensive due to how expensive it is and how little you get for the money. Her whole attitude was rude and I didn't appreciate how she was trying to scare me that my DD would get injured or be at risk due to the area the school is located in. The whole conversation was unprofessional, she didn't utter a word of encouragement, congratulations or support. It was ironic because she truly made the decision to leave all the more easy for us.

Edited by dancemaven
remove full quotes of previous post.
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I've always found that it really helps to write it all out in an email...that I then delete.

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Having been there ourselves, I also want to add that you may find that no matter how gracefully you think you have left, there may be backlash and gossip that emanates from your old studio that will reach either you or your DD, especially if, as you said, the dance world in your area is small. The mantra mentioned earlier in this thread ("I just want to dance"/"DD just wants to dance.") will become even more important then.

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Wouldn't it be lovely if there weren't so many of us who had experience with and advice about this topic? :ermm:

 

I don't think I've ever seen a "leaving studio and AD/teacher is being very supportive and helpful" thread! (Unfortunately, I can't be the one to start it, but I have heard that our current studio gives the kids wings and helps them fly if the time comes.)

 

Does anyone have a positive story?

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