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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Another Performer correcting me


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So I am soon going to take part in an adult dance piece and am very excited as I have not been in a performance since I was 12... err...about 20 years ago!

It is tricky enough and quite long. I take a lot of ballet classes but I am still a fairly beginner to intermediate level.

There is another dancer whom I have some interaction with while we are dancing...not directly but little things, like look toward each other or dance with each other along with a third dancer in a circle and she seems to find it perfectly fine to correct me saying things like "look toward me " or pulling me aside to tell me which way to face when turning. Then asking me if that worked better and complimenting me when I get it right.

She has a lot more experience than me but I am finding it very annoying as I don't feel it's her place to correct me but the teacher/ choreographer's!

Also, she barely turns up to any rehearsals, got special financial help with her costume when I am as poor as her because she cried to the director so I feel it's even less her place to correct me.

Am I being overly sensitive? Is it perfectly fine for her to give me corrections without my asking? She is better than me and like I said, more experienced but I feel it is bad etiquette. It's not like I am bumping into her or getting in her way!

Even if her corrections are perfectly valid and make a lot of sense, I feel they should come from my teacher or maybe if I ASKED her for help???

Please advise :)

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I think you are being a bit overly sensitive, but not terribly so -- and certainly understandably so.


I sometimes perform with a group of adults. We frequently give each other suggestions or corrections and work through different opinions of what we've been asked to do together -- it helps clean things up and raise the quality of the dancing. The choreographer cannot always see everything and we have limited rehearsal time because, well, we're adults with a thousand other obligations outside of the studio/stage.


What's a bit strange about your situation is that you don't really know this other dancer. The people I dance with have formed a very tight-knit group. We're good friends. And it's really a group effort to put something together that will look good and be enjoyable for the audience.


It is really nice that this more experienced dancer is also complimenting you and asking for your feedback as well as correcting you. She's clearly trying to be helpful and it sounds like she's sort of taken you under her wing. That's a compliment in itself, don't you think? In my opinion, it would have been better if she'd asked if it was OK with you before she started doing it, but now that it's happening... maybe your best bet is just to take advantage of everything she has to offer as a more experienced dancer.


(And I would try not to get irritated by her attendance or payment issues... For all you know the choreographer pre-approved her absences and I'm sure you don't know the fine details of her finances. I know it's hard, but as long as it doesn't affect you, it's not your business.)

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Thanks for the input, Gav....I agree with what you say...if she had asked me first it would've been fine!

I know her well enough as we take classes together. We don't hang out outside of class except through social media. This is how I know about her personal issues as she talks about her life quite a lot and is extremely forthcoming ;)

I will take what you said under advisement and accept her corrections but if it is happening too often to the detriment of being able to hear the choreographer speaking, then I may say something. The director IS a bit annoyed by her less than perfect attendance, as he is by a lot of the others whose attendance is sporadic (as he IS a friend of mine outside class so I know).... but I guess all we all want is to create a beautiful piece, so I should just work hard and listen well to what everyone has to offer.

I know that in the acting world it is extremely poor etiquette for an actor to give another actor corrections... I thought it would be similar in ballet...perhaps not...?

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Oh, if she's talking while the choreographer is talking, I'd be upset! I would say something like, "I'm trying to listen now. Would you mind telling me later?"

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As most of you know, I come fom a musical theater background...and in that world (and I agree with this) it is NOT acceptable for one performer to correct or give notes to another. As a matter of fact, in a professional situation, one could loose their union card if complaints are filed regarding this issue. (I don't mean to be too stern on this point)

but if you haven't asked for the help, I really don't think you arguing overly sensitive.

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To be honest, I think you are being a bit over sensitive and defensive. I can absolutely understand why you feel this way -- it's completely natural! But I think you need to find a way to take the comments and corrections with a good grace.


Feedback is a gift.


The other dancer is, as you say, more experienced, and she is giving you tips and encouraging you. You and she have choreography in which you interact, and so working on it together is a good way of developing a good rapport. It sounds as though she's aware she may be intruding, but wants to help you improve.


While I take Wilimus' point about this being a no-go in the professional theatre (although in my field I often see younger actors being advised by more experienced actors in the profession), you're not a professional, and this is not a professional situation.


I remember once being in a studio piece and a fellow dancer correcting me on some turns -- I was turning in the wrong direction! The choreographer hadn't pointed it out (or maybe not noticed it) and I was SO grateful that my fellow dancer did see and correct me. It was a bad mistake which would have made me look stupid and much more importantly, spoiled the piece at that point.


Ultimately, in any kind of performance, it's not about you or your feelings: it's about the piece and the performance overall. It's about the work. Maybe if you think about that, you can help yourself to stop feeling it so personally. It's absolutely natural to take it personally, but in performance, we all have to get over ourselves, and serve the work.


So don't beat yourself up for feeling sensitive, but equally, don't dwell on your feelings -- think about your contribution to the piece.

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It's rather common for performers to help one another out. It's especially helpful when it comes to making a transition with ease - for instance, "I can't reach you if you're there, can you try to do this or that so I can find your hand more easily?"


In ballet, both recreationally and professionally, we assist each other in these minor ways. I've had to communicate with many, many partners that I hadn't danced with before how they should hold me to facilitate certain things and they've had to tell me as well. The first time I ever tried the Diana & Acteon pas de deux, the director did not notice what I was doing wrong when my partner kept missing my hand for a deep pencheé - My new partner himself told me while we were working out the kinks, "when you run, leave your left hand behind, that way I'll be able to just grab it by the time you start your pencheé."


There were no hurt feelings, just happy that I wasn't running the risk of face planting into the floor.

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Yes, as long as she doesn't distract you whilst the choreographer is talking or working, I would accept the corrections in the spirit that they are given - good naturedly. If she were making snide remarks or being critical, then that's a totally different kettle of fish, but it sounds to me that she genuinely wants to help you and has the experience and knowledge to do so.


I have to say that if I were working with a less experienced partner, I too would offer assistance, where I felt it necessary and even if the partner were my equal I would want to put in my two cents worth if something wasn't quite right and I thought I could help. I hope that I would also be open enough to accept his/her input/suggestions as well. You note that her suggestions have worked and that she is also giving you positive feedback, so I would be inclined to say go with it and make use of her extra experience.


If you really can't take any more then tell her that you really appreciate her input, but you are worried because you also find it a bit distracting. Hopefully, she'll take the hint! But I have to say that it may be your loss in the end..........

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