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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How do you accept corrections?


Redbookish

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There's a thread over in the Teachers' Forum by Pas de Quoi < waves to Pas de Quoi > in which she asks about ways of giving corrections, and gives details of a couple of situations where giving corrections has led to a difficult situation with a student. We can't post there -- it's for Teachers only -- but we can read, and Teachers can read here, so I thought we could offer a perspective from keen adult students.

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=56789&p=551055

 

Now, I know that most of us would eat up corrections -- the more the better, and hands on corrections are the very best! (I was talking on the weekend with some friends of mine who have discovered yoga and who were raving about a teacher who would 'place' them -- they totally understood the ballet concept of hands on corrections)

 

So we might be an unrepresentative sample, but maybe we could talk about how we accept corrections to show a teacher that we welcome them! I think a lot of teachers just don't give corrections, for reasons Pas de Quoi gives in her opening post.

 

I always smile, nod, and say "thank you" quite formally, even if I know the teacher & we socialise outside of class. I want corrections, and try to suck them up: I try to make myself look and act as 'teachable.'

 

Other ideas?

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When I get corrections for things which will take me a while to fix (my body is not ideal for ballet and I have ongoing issues with things like sickling) I tell the teacher 'thank you, I'll work on it', to indicate that even if it looks like I'm not implementing the correction fully straight away, I am trying to!

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One of our class teachers has never corrected me - I guess she realises that I'm doing what I can with my ageing body, so I was actually very pleased when she came over and indicated that my back was not held up enough. I immediately corrected and went over to her at the end of class to check exactly what she had seen and thank her. I told her that it was good that she correct me in things like that, because this is something I can correct and should correct, because otherwise I'm going to demonstrate to my pupils with a slouched back. I said that there are obviously things I can no longer do full out, but that there are definitely things I should be more aware of so please feel free to correct me. It was all good.........

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I smile, laugh, or sometimes joke in acknowledgement about the correction. It tends to go over well. Many teachers laugh back and I continue to get corrected (which I need). I am, however, one of those problem students when it comes to arrogant corrections. I've encountered a situation where a teacher felt the need to pick on me or over-correct me for things that were not necessarily wrong (conflicting style) then announce to the entire classroom that I was an example of wrong-wrong-wrong. Literally, this teacher in Bangkok yelled at me during my first arm preparation for plié at the barre, "WRONG! You're WRONG!" I call this an arrogant correction because I feel like it was something done to assert dominance of that teacher to her normal students.

 

I admit I got as moody and sullen as a teenager in that situation, which perhaps wasn't the best attitude to take - but it was shocking and frustrating. That kind of experience happens so rarely to me though that I am still prone to thinking that I take corrections jovially.

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Thanks for raising this topic Redbookish. I've been following the discussion on the teachers forum and have long thought about the "issue" of corrections for adult dancers. Judging from what people have written on BT over the years, corrections are perceived as golden nuggets, something to be treasured. But is that really so? I mean there are always individual differences in play, so for sure there are individuals who treasure each correction and there are individuals like the person mentioned in the teacher's forum that sees a correction as a negative comment about that individual's ability. I remember once being in a class where the teacher gave an individual a correction and had that individual repeat the movement again and again, which resulted in the individual breaking down crying. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that individual thought of that experience in a negative light.

 

Often I wonder whether or not people see individual corrections as getting attention, rather than as really fixing a technical problem. Technical problems generally require many repetitions and a fair amount of time to fix.

 

Generally speaking all the various teachers I've had have given primarily group corrections. Relatively few individual corrections. I tend to be easy going, with no emotional attachment, either positive or negative, to corrections.

 

By far the most "correction intensive" classes I've ever taken were for Spanish/Flamenco. I do have to say that in my case I found Spanish/Flamenco by far the most difficult dance style to learn. Many was the time I would get individual corrections and the opportunity to solo repeatedly doing those things I was having difficulty doing. At first I would get frustrated with myself because try as I might I just couldn't do it. I would ask myself why I was torturing myself with this. But because this occurred in every class, I grew accustomed to it, worked really hard outside of class and wound up being OK.

 

Adults, especially those over a certain age, are a tough bunch. Often they are older, more worldly, and socially more powerful than those who teach dance. They tend to not be shy about saying what they believe. Age increases individual differences too. All of that makes teaching adults difficult and makes me admire those teachers who can do it well.

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I love corrections. I go out of my way to ask the teacher (if I feel that something I did was wrong) if I was performing a step/movement correctly. Sometimes I have time to ask during the lull between combinations but other times I will wait until the lull between barre and center to approach her individually. Without corrections, how can I expect to get better. The wonderful thing I have noticed about several of my teachers is that they are equal-opportunity with their corrections. In other words, it doesn't matter if I'm taking a class with teens - they will correct me as equally as they will the younger dancers. I always thank them and try to incorporate the correction quickly.

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I never get a lot of corrections but when I get one, I eat them up! I immediately try to apply it but now just once, like three times in a row. Usually the teachers stays a bit and controls, then I move to the back of the room (if it is about an exercise in the center) and I try it on my own there. Since I hardly ever talk in class (just when I REALLY have to ask something in between) I just nod and make a face that I like the correction.

If I have problems applying it immediately, I try and joke, thank the teacher and promise to work on it.

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I really enjoy being given corrections during class. Without corrections, a ballet class would just feel like exercise class. I tend to be a perfectionist, and I need the teacher's feedback to help me improve. When I am corrected, it gives me something to work on, whether that is at the barre between combinations, at home, or anywhere. (I have been known on occasion to practice ballet in the aisle of Home Depot while my husband shops for tools!)

 

I look forward to receiving new corrections during my classes. I actually feel really bad when a teacher has to give me the same correction week after week. Sometimes I'm trying my best and my body will not cooperate, or sometimes, I just forget to apply it.

 

In any case, I do think it's important to accept corrections curteously and graciously. I always find it interesting when I hear of a dancer disputing a correction with an instructor. (I think it's fine to ask for clarification on the correction if you did not understand it, as long as it is done respectfully.) With all the different styles of ballet, if it is a style issue, I would think it is best to do as the instructor has asked (as long as you can do so safely) and ask about it after class.

 

As adults, I think sometimes our egos may bruise a bit more easily than the younger dancers, but I try to remember that a correction is not the same as criticism. I know that if I want to become a better and more refined dancer, I need corrections to reach that goal.

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Not only does the adult ego bruise more ( personal experience), but corrections to me are how you know you are getting better and more important, what to fix. Like others I tend to be a perfectionist, and want to do things to the best of my ability, if I'm not corrected does this mean I'm doing things well, or am I just not worth correcting. Does anyone have experience with a teacher who only corrects one persons in class for pretty much the entire class ( and I mean an adult, not a kid)? This has happened to me recently, one adult seems to be the focus of the entire class, both corrections and praise, the rest of us seem to be invisible. This has caused my attitude to change in class, and class is no longer fun, and more important I don't feel like I'm learning and progressing. I know that corrections given in an adult class are different from those given in a kids class, or are they, really? Should everyone be corrected? No one, and group corrections be given instead? This is a fascinating, and most appropriate conversation for me to read and be a part of right now.

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I think it is up to the teachers to understand the class and figure out what is appropriate for correction. Some classes function fine with group corrections, while some classes will lose students if a teacher takes a more general approach. It's part of being a teacher, probably, the ability to assess how one class should differ from the next.

 

In my case, we visited a class we had never been to before at a school we'd never previously tried before. I had informed the teacher I was not familiar with RAD and had no intention of even having much attention from her as she had her RAD thing she had to do. I just wanted to take a class. You can imagine my surprise at being yelled at during the first arm preparation before the first plié even started! Then being snapped and remarked at continuously afterwards in that class.

 

It felt impolite to raise my hand for clarification as I was a visitor, but when I finally got fed up and asked an innocent question, (what exactly is posé) I got mocked and told in front of an entire class of strangers that i had bad training. Many posters here know my teachers and would never call them poor trainers... even if i happen to be a rusty and broken dancer myself. As you can read, I'm still bitter by that crazy incident.

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I wish my regular teacher would give more corrections, either individually or as a group. I would also welcome a more hands on correction to help me improve; but our teacher isn't that hands on with anyone. However, in the adult classes I take, I know my ability is not quite up there with the other "regulars" in class so I do understand why our teacher would not spend a lot of time giving corrections. At the same time, I don't want to be "that" student who is constantly looking for feedback (am I doing this right...how about this? etc.) during class and holding up the flow of the class as a whole. I can also understand how difficult it can be for the teacher to figure out who wants corrections and who wants to be left alone.

 

I am definitely the type who will always listen for ANY correction given and try to apply it even if my name is not called out. I just can't always apply it right away but will make the effort to.

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I usually smile and say thank you, or nod (and try to express "I understand, I will try." through my facial expression). Sometimes if I did something really silly wrong, I will automatically go "Aaah, sorry!" when the teacher points it out (but that's probably a bit childish?).

 

I don't think teachers want us to explain why we did somethong wrong or have a conversation about it every time they correct us. As a student, I find it holds the whole class up. Maybe that's a reason teachers don't correct sometimes?

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So many good comments here! I just want to add myself to the "camp" of loving corrections!! I love them all, and divide them (in my own mind), into categories so as to stick them as firmly as possible into my memory:

 

The "fly-by" correction where I am in the teacher's line of sight (as w/ a grand allegro) and it is mostly a reminder of the sequence of steps, or a one-word 'assist'......such as "Up!" "Arms!" or the like;

The "SIT -- Now!" correction (as one might to a beloved, but in need of discipline, pet, dog, or the like....) This is usually about straight knees, being lifted enough, or one the teacher may, unfortunately have actually given me before, but I've had a momentary lapse ..and which of course I will rectify immediately and beg myself not to forget again! These become far less frequent and I have instilled almost all of these into muscle memory now. These corrections are about the most helpful because those couple of words I don't think I will ever forget - they are so memorable :innocent: ;

The "inspirational" correction that is expansively showered upon the entire class and for instance on a Monday morning, reminds us all, this is ballet class now, and we must use our heads at barre, just as we must everywhere else, keep heels forward, or the like...... at all times. This is delivered with a very sweet and indulgent smile...... It's going to be an interesting week...... :grinning:

 

Seriously though, corrections are fabulous. I learn more in a two word correction sometimes than I might learn reading an entire book about a certain step or ballet principle - straight legs; lifting up on standing leg, etc. etc... They are gems I keep in my special treasure chest and hold close, to deposit into my bank of knowledge and improvement. They are things one could never get from a book or from watching a video no matter how great those might be.... A personal or class comment -- explanatory or using imagery to bring to life the concept -- I live for these quite simply. They keep me intrigued from one class to the next -- :wub:

Oh, and I even love the ones not given to me, as well. The corrections to me personally - now that is a silver dollar! But I learn hugely from comments given to others which, if they do not now, used to apply to me, and which I never mind hearing, to recall my own path of progress..... :)

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Guest Blossoming ballerina

I agree there are so many great comments

I like getting corrections.

My teacher is so sweet natured. Her corrections are always met with thanks.

I try very hard to work on my corrections and enjoy it when it all clicks. I like those penny dropping moments.:)

Just recently I had a class all to myself. Yay. It was great to go at my pace and really look at areas where I could improve.

 

Just my little contribution

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LaFille I am so sorry that you had such an awful experience with the RAD teacher - I can assure you that this has nothing to do with RAD but with the personality of that particular teacher :( . I can never understand why teachers make an example of one poor student in front of everyone else - it's counterproductive, unhelpful and plain mean! I remember watching a summer school in Saratoga (isn't summer school supposed to be enjoyable as well as challenging???) and the teacher just kept yelling and insulting this poor kid, who could not get a step right. After about 15 minutes of my squirming in sympathy for the girl, the teacher did what she should have done in the first place - explained again clearly - and of course the student got it. OOF! There's no excuse for behaviour like that on the part of the teacher and in my opinion there's no excuse on the part of the student for resenting corrections if they are given in the appropriate manner........

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