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private lessons - Why would they be banned?


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After reading another thread, I have a question and thought it might better be a topic by itself instead of piggybacking onto another thread. I read that many of you have said your school frowns upon or outright bans private instruction.

Why? As a business, privates would be an additional revenue stream. and second, doesn't a AD want his/her dancers to grow to the best of their ability? through extra practice/attention gained outside of traditional class? focus on a specific weaknesses? I can see the reason for not openly encouraging them.... (not being able to offer time to everyone, the appearance of favoritism etc). but just think there must be other reasons.


Is it a time/studio space issue?

DD has had a weekly private for the last year. She is one of only a couple of dancers at her studio who have taken that step. She has advanced tremendously this year... in part to the private lessons. I'm just confused why a studio owner or AD would ban private learning opportunities.

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I do not know why they would, unless it's a studio space/time issue. The teacher, however, is the one who makes money from privates. The studio does not benefit financially, unless they charge the teacher something for the studio time. Even then, it would be a very small portion of the cost of the private lesson. However, I do fail to see why any director would not want the students to benefit from doing this if they can afford it, as long as it does not interfere with the regular classes or substitute for a class for that student.

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From our experience at dd's school, privates or outside instruction (except during the summer as you are not allowed to participate in home SI) are discouraged in general and absolutely forbidden for dk's on scholarship. My understanding of why this was for two reasons. 1. The kids are in a pretty intensive program as it is, adding more ballet instruction or additional hours can be injurious. 2. The actual private could be counter productive to what they are trying to accomplish with a prescribed curriculum, perhaps causing confusion or conflict of technique style.


That being said a large majority of student seek outside instruction and keep it to themselves.

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Our studio's general reply about privates in that the school's teachers are not permitted to offer private instruction and the studios may not be rented for private instruction. The reasoning that I was told is that allowing privates would not be fair because only those that could afford them would get to benefit.


The school also does not encourage and would probably frown upon the outside pursuit of YAGP or other private coaching-based competitions.

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The reasoning that I was told is that allowing privates would not be fair because only those that could afford them would get to benefit.

Ok, I'll just add this to the list of things that make no sense to me. :nixweiss: Only kids whose parents can afford ballet in the first place can take class.

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Mdballetmom, you are correct, but/and it is also true that sometimes the resources are used up and privates would really not be possible on top of everything else.



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Depressingly true. We could not afford to send dd away to an SI this year. Now a lot of the other girls in her level have started taking private lessons. I'm having to dig deep to find money for private lessons, on top of the huge amount we spend on normal tuition, to keep her from getting further behind. Now she probably won't be able to go away this summer either. I feel like one of those hamsters stuck running in the wheel. Maybe that's one reason why they are banned. To stop parents from having to "buy their way" into more or better training for their DK's.

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My thoughts on private lessons are that they should be for very specific purposes, such as correcting a serious problem or coaching for a performance or competition. If the school is good, the faculty excellent, and there are a sufficient number of classes for the level of the student, then privates should not be necessary.


If it is a choice between privates and 5 or 6 weeks of a good SI in the summer, in my opinion that is a no-brainer. The SI's are much more important, in my opinion.

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Not sure why you're scratching your head Mdballetmom. Not everyone who can afford lessons can afford privates on top of those lessons. Many a family has a limit to what they spend on their children's activities, especially if they have more than one child in high level training of some kind.

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My dd's school last year heavily promoted privates, which we could not afford considering we were not only paying tuition, but also living expenses. The kids who took privates ( and more than 1x a week) did better, got better casting, and got better scholarships from the school. We spent about 25k on her dance education last year, so an extra $100 a week would have been a huge burden.


I think taking privates "just because" or to gain an advantage over other students for casting is a policy I won't be looking for in any future schools for dd.

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Hmmm. I can fully understand and accept that a school that is providing instruction to a student on scholarship should certainly be able to dictate whether that student can take privates elsewhere, but not for the vast majority of ballet students out here in Everywhere, U.S.A. attending the local ballet studio, which is most likely not a pre-professional studio affiliated with a major company (in my small town dreams).


Ballet studios are a business, providing a service that we are paying for. It would not sit well with me if the company director/studio owner tried to tell me that DD could not take private lessons, either there or somewhere else if I thought that was best for DD. I'm trying to imagine another type of business telling me I cannot shop anywhere else but there.


As it just so happens, DD IS taking privates with an independent coach, so we pay a small fee for use of a studio, and of course the instructor's fee for the lesson. When our studio owner/AD discovered this (although I did not advertise it, I made no attempt to hide it) she did express unhappiness, because she felt it was a "slap in the face" to the instructors at DD's full time studio. I explained how we started with the outside instructor and why I felt it was important to DD to continue, and the AD accepted our explanation (if not 100% happily).


As with many issues presented on this board, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on the individual studio and situation.

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My dd's studio's handbook states that students may not take ballet outside the school without written permission. Students can be dismissed for a handbook violation such as that. It was explained that they don't want the students picking up bad habits or being taught differently than what is in class. We did get permission for dd to study elsewhere in the summer, but I cannot imagine that they let anyone take outside classes/privates during the year. I do believe that it is sometimes done on the side, but no one would let it be "known" in the studio. This school is very much "take it or leave it" and if you do not agree with their policy, they will find another kid for that spot. They are pretty firm that they know what's best for our kids dance-wise.


The school's teachers do not do privates for their students, although it seems in the upper levels they may help with preparations for auditions. They will also help the kids for a few minutes after class to get an arabesque photo or something, but they do not do privates. I was told once that it would be a conflict to do privates. There are 10-20 kids per class and with all the teachers teaching multiple classes, it wouldn't even be possible (time wise and studio space wise) to do privates for all of them. The teachers help decide who gets moved up and who gets "not invited" back so I think it would definitely be inappropriate for them to teach privates just to some kids on the side.

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Yes well I have noticed a proliferation of private classes at our studio. These are usually about preparing a solo for the dance competitions here (a very big deal) and yes, DS has them with his contemporary teacher. My observation is that the schedule is rife with them and I wonder how on earth more group classes can happen with the studios booked with privates. I don't think these are very commercial as the rates are lower than what would be paid by a group of dancers. I think it occurs partially because of parent pressure, of getting the competitive edge and of dancers just 'loving' the one on one attention. It seems to me that having a lot of private classes becomes a problem when they are not a short term arrangement. I can understand why a studio would ban them- make it all or nothing. Wouldn't work here because none of the dancers would be in the comps but that is a whole other story! :)

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Interesting thread. Is it possible that in a highly competitive school, one of the reasons privates are discouraged is so that it keeps the "playing field" level and makes it easier to determine where the true talent lies? There is more to "having what it takes" in ballet than accomplishing the technique successfully. The dancer whose parents must pay hundreds (if not thousands) to keep her in the running (with the ones who are successful without this) may only be fooling themselves. Once a dancer is a part of a company, they must be able to accomplish difficult choreography and apply corrections in a group setting without the added help of a private teacher. They must be the quickest study and highly focused. The days are long and grueling. No time for private lessons to help them keep up there.

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ceecee, I think that is very good 'food for thought'. And would go hand-in-hand with Ms. Leigh's long-repeated opinion that privates should only be necessary for specific issues, not a general course of learning.


It goes back to the adage that it is not about who gets there first, but who learns the whole thing best. Ballet is not a one-on-one endeavor (despite YAGP's increasing influence). It is a group effort---from the very first beginning class to peak of one's career, whether that be as a principal or as a corps member.


It is also an art form and a cohesive, strong early foundation is essential to being able to be more versatile in various styles later.

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