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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Receiving the proper training? NO!!!

Ed McPherson

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I well yeah, I am having this odd experiance, I want to scream! I feel like i have been cheated! I dont like it! what do you



so last night in bed i had some scary thoughts! it was freaking me out! When I went to Interlochen (to udition for the school year, I got in I am going next year my junior year)they acted rather impressed with my dancing, enough

to say something. And at that point I was just like wow, they like it! but now i am here at Contra Costa Ballet (Richard Cammack, Zola Dishong), and i am like, "wow, I am extreamly frusterated with my previous ballet teachers right now!" they really taught me, or more correctly failed to teach me correctly!. and like I, I, I, get it I am not even impressed with my

dancing, no one here at Contra Costa is, its like "wow Ed u really need some help."Getting to the point though, am I going to a school

where they think I am already a good dancer, where they are actually impressed with my dancing as of now? I mean I know that I have potental enough and all. But i mean, if they were impressed with something SOOOOO imperfect... That is INCREDABLY scary! Ok an example... Richard had to teach me how to do a tombe` pas de bourre`e pirouette, i mean of course I could do it, but not right! I didnt have any coordination in the arms or head with the feet, and my triple pirouette was mediocre, the arms were totaly at a loss no one has ever told me how to coordinate arms in a turn, then today he had to go over failli assemble`, that was even worse. I didnt know to turn my hips in the failli, or that the asemble was efface`e. What is that, how does one leave that out when teaching to someone, My point, I DONT KNOW THE BASICS! I get to CCB and my tendu back includes not only my leg buy also my hip, my lord I am not even doing a tedu right? thats the frist thing u learn in ballet, 9 months and no one even bothers to go Ed, you know your hip is moving with your tendu and your body is sinking, you need to pull up and hinge in the hips, you have to isolate your leg. How BASIC is that, where was it missed, HOW could it have been missed, I mean how did even I miss it? Come on here people THROW ME A FRICKEN BONE, It is just amazingly frusterating for me, how these little things that

are sooo small but so improtant could have been skipped, who in their right mind? I dont know, obviosuly thats why you go

to a big city to take ballet. so yeah i am like all scared that Interlochen is going to be this regression, a step back in the level

of instruction. My family is dishing out this incredulios amount of money, not to mention the fact I am leaving everything I have, that now includes great instruction in ballet. The last thing I desire is someone teaching me that is impressed with technique that frankly doesn't impress me! so yeah take

that and mull over it for a sec and tell me i am taking it all out of context and that everything will be alright even if the

instruction is bad, and that i should just go to bed and not worry until i get there and then afirm my suspicion that, WOW,

i just wasted a year in my life learning bad habits. So ughh to the world for being so darn unproficient, so untollerably uneducated.



so now that i have vented a bit... what do you think, should I be this worried? is it too much to ask for the best? should I

just be grateful for what i have and move on? probably, but it's still really easy to point fingers, espcially when its at a

tendu! not to mention Interlochen is what? only my entire FUTURE, say it again, Ed if Interlochen is a bust, so are you buddie. WOW, they'd better be good! I could get pretty darn bitter.


so i guess i just need some guidance, if i get the adaquate dance trainging that i want, and i dont get hurt, there is no reason why i couldn't dance pro. I dont know the dance world well enough to know what to do though, i dont know the ropes, what do you think? I want to dance pro, what is the next logical step, This is so much to ask of you, understanding that you havent seen me dance, but if there is anything you could suggest, please go ahead! Its just annoying how i have to sit here and take this from unprofessional people who are so small minded, you say ABT and they go hey I saw them once, its like NO I danced with them once. that is the mindset i need to be around. Its a lot to ask for I know. SO yeah, thanks a lot for reading all this ranting and raving! please say as much as u can think of! :confused:



I uhhh, think this is a bit better now... you'll have to excuse me :(

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OK, Ed - just sit back and breathe deeply. Calm down. You're so excited and upset, your spelling and grammar have all gone down the drain, when they are normally so good.


So, you're nine whole months into the mission, and the body doesn't cooperate quite correctly yet? Not a major problem. The seeds of an answer to your cry for help are contained in the complaint. You feel that you are not receiving the best training where you are studying while living at home. Therefore, seek the best school you can where you live, or within commuting distance. If you are at the best school within that radius, then you are probably doing the right thing by studying there. Take the lessons and examples you see this summer and apply them back at the home school. If you need to study out of your area, then that's another story, but for an unemancipated teen, you're doing the right things now!:(


To tell you the truth, I don't know about Interlochen's program during the regular school year, but they have historically run a good summer program.

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First, you take a deep breath.


**Funny! I was writing, while Major Johnson was, and we both had the same thought--So, see! We *are* taking you seriously!!**


Understandably, you are frustrated by what you perceive as your "bad/incorrect" previous training.


You need to make an appointment with the director/s of the program you are attending now and go over things, *realistically* and seriously.


If you are 16, 6'4" and seriously thiinking about wanting to dance, if not professionally, then seriously in a college or regional dance program, you must correct the previous lapses in training.....especially as you indicate that you have not been dancing too long.


Doing a proper tendu or a single pirouette correctly is a lot more important than flash. Lots of teachers see a boy, encourage him to do all the tricks he wants to and gloss over sloppiness in technique or placement or whatever in order just to keep him in the school or their program. If you want to have a serious career in dance, professional or amateur, you have to do it right. It is a lot more mortifying to relearn everything when you are 20, if indeed that is possible. I don't mean differences in trainiing as in Balanchine vs. Bournonville, Vaganova vs. Cecchetti--I mean serious misalignment of the body, sloppy port de bras despite the number of pirouettes, etc.


I feel certain that our teachers here will be of help to you--at least you have the will and interest to attempt to correct errors in training. Best of luck--

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Yes, by all means talk at least to Richard, he's got the inside track on all the balloon juice that can be fed to young male dancers!:( And he's a very decent teacher, by anybody's standard, and will give you a candid insight into what to do and what to work on. He probably will have a couple of ideas worth pursuing regarding academic year training that hadn't occurred to you before!

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  • Administrators

Okay, Ed, as Mr. Johnson and Juliet have said, breathe! Slow down and start thinking straight. And, to start with, edit your post! You should know by now that we do not use "teen speak" or "computereez" on this board. If you want to say you, then say it, not "u", or "ur" for your. The post is almost illegible, and the ballet terms are not even in the ball park. Start using your computer to learn the correct terms and spelling!


I understand your anger, and it is, unfortunately, not surprising. I don't know where you have been studying, but there are hundreds of schools in this country claiming to teach ballet without any real knowledge at all of what they are doing. There is nothing you can do about the past, so get over it and let's move on here. You are still quite young enough to get past whatever has happened and move on. Your decision to attend Interlochen for the school year is a positive step in the right direction.


Please do as advised above and talk to the teachers you are working with now at Contra Costa. I'm sure they will have some very positive and solid advice for you. In the meantime, channel your anger into learning and accomplishing everything you can this summer, and do not let the anger rule. Recognize it, and now get on with the learning. The more positive energy you put into your classes out there, right now, the more you will learn and accomplish.

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Today, I am breathing deeper...phew. Thank you all for your advice. I will talk to Richard this week. I talked also talked to my mom, you know how that goes. Generally I do a good job of keeping my fears in check but occasionally things bubble to the surface, that was an exeption, a jet to the surface.


I still love the world, really :(

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Good for you, Ed. Don't worry, we all need to vent sometime!:(

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Guest Nadezhda

Dear Ed-

I think you're not thinking clearly at the moment, which is understandable, since you're emotinally affected in all this and it has been a real shock for you as well.


Everyone has a certain image of himself that is based on the feedback we get from our surrounding (ie. people around us, teachers, police officers and other people who can affect our functioning) and also our opinion. What you thought of your dancing was based on what you heard about it from your teachers and people at Interlochen.


But you are forgetful: in striving to get the best of your dancing you've become overly critical and not fair enough. What you're doing is - considering everything, that is not up to your very high standards, crapy and unworthy and demoralizing. Which I think is the wrong attitude that is not going to take you anywhere; especially not in the dance world. Because: something is to have high expectations for yourself and then try to live up to them so that in the end you've become a better person, dancer, whatever you want. Something quite different is to have too high excpectations (I'm not saying you're unable to fulfill them!) that cannot be brought to life at the moment, but require lots of motivation and work in order to be fulfilled. Wishing to be the best dancer you can be is not very smart - you can be easily disappointed and the disappointment is of vast proportions and that demotivates and demoralizes you to work further and it leads into the condition you're in - despair.


However, despair is not in place here, either. Ed, please, be honest with yourself. Has any of the teachers said: "You're the best dancer we've ever had, we think there's nothing more you could learn"? I don't think that was the case. (I am not saying you are a bad dancer; I cannot say anything about your danicng since I obviously haven't seen you.) Why people at Interlochen or your previous school were happy with your dancing is probably because they thought you have POTENTIAL. (I cannot be hundred percent sure, this is the case, but I suspect so. Please consult your teachers to know for sure.) And potential doesn't mean being accomplished, it means there is something there that could get you further than most of other students of dance. But to make a gem out of a stone, one has to work very hard on it. And that is exactly what the teachers at CCB are trying to do. Let's face it. Ballet basics are the most difficult part of ballet. In my opinion, once you've got the basics (of aplomb) correctly, everything is easy (compared to the basics) from then on. Therefor, do not be frustrated with your imperfection! In my opinion there is no such thing as a perfect dancer anyway. One can get really close, but never quite reaches perfection. And that gives us motivation, that extra push; when you feel you cannot do any more, your spirit, striving for perfection, keeps you going. That, Ed, is in my opinion the right attitude to tackle this problem.


If you come to the class knowing, that your body is imperfect, but you're there to train it to be better (instead of despairing over your faults) and that motivates you for dancing better than ever, you could get very, very far. How far I cannot tell, but it surely is a way to success. What success means for you, I don't know.


And furthermore, Ed, is there really a reason to be so desperate? You went to an audition for CCB, right? Since you got accepted, that means, you're some good. Not perfect, though. Talk to your teachers about your dance future, if they think you have a future in there. This is what has been advised before. If they say you need some work, than that is fine: every body needs work, needs work ALL the time. And I think Interlochen is the same - they accepted you because they probably thought you have a potential they could develop. Don't you think they might have been so impressed with your talent rather than your dancing? (Again, I cannot be sure, not having seen you.)


Work this out with your teachers and when you've done so, please tell us how it went. I have my fingers crossed for you. Good luck!


This message was written with good intentions. If this was not what it has reached, I'm sorry. Please ignore it in this case.

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Thanks a lot!!!


Yes, I totaly understand what you are saying, I think that your right, I KNOW that your right, about the potential thing. I was born with a very lucky body. I do have high goals, becuase there is nothing to say i can't be a great ballet dancer. And so thats what I expect, with hard work. All that said, I dont often lose sight of how much I have improved, and manage to stay in a great positive attitude. In fact going home to my old studios can be a great way feel good! And I know that people would not invest in me if they didnt see possibilities. It is just this, that sometimes makes me worry, It can be hard to put out as much as people put into me. But yeah, thaks for the reply!!! I wouldnt dream of taking offense to anything you said, it is all quite down to earth and more importantly, true.


Thanks Again!!!

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Guest Nadezhda

I'm glad you understood me, Ed. I am happy I could help.

It is just this, that sometimes makes me worry, It can be hard to put out as much as people put into me.


I do agree with this. It is one of the hardest things, but this is what makes a distinction between the good and not so good dancers.


Keep the good work! :)

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Guest hesterlover1

Hi Ed, first of all, I understand your frustration--I think every dancer has had that feeling that they are horrible and do everything wrong. The advice you've received above is all really good. It is great in the dance world to find a male dancer who not only has a lot of potential, but WANTS to dance and is passionate about ballet. Compared to the number of girls out there, guys like you are relatively hard to come by! ;) That may be why they seem impressed with you at Interlochen, because they can't wait to work with you and help you become the best you can be.


Also, I wanted to let you know that at the SI I just attended (Joffrey Midwest Workshop), there was a guy from Interlochen who is going to be a senior this school year. I talked to him about it a bit, because I had auditioned for the program and been accepted into both the summer intensive and the school year, but decided not to go. He told me he loves the program and he would recommend it. And he is quite a good dancer--not perfect, of course, but who is perfect, after all? I agree with Nadezhda that there are no perfect dancers. ;) I think that Interlochen is a good school, and the intensive training you'll get there will help you to achieve your goals and become a professional dancer. Good luck!! And let us know how it turns out. :) Hope this has helped.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Sassybeaver

I know exactly how you feel!!! In all my ballet classes, I was allowed to show off while everyone else (the girls) couldn't(unless they wanted to do chair splits). Then I went to audition for the Classical/Contemporary Dance department, my audition was well.....embarassing. I also questioned my technique. Though I've only been dancing for about 4-5 years, I felt like I was cheated and wasn't good enough. Then my friends helped me examine what I needed help with and I worked on it. If you really want to dance, you should want it with all your being. :)


Good luck and fun dancing,




Dance....it's not what you think...it's what you feel!

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  • Administrators

Hello Adrien, welcome to the Young Dancers' forum on Ballet Talk! We are glad you have found us, and hope you enjoy the many different forums we have here :)


Are you now in the Classical/Contemporary Dance Department? Is this a college program? I don't think we have ever had anyone from Cypress before!

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Guest Sassybeaver

So nice to meet you!


The Classical/Contemporary Dance Dept. in question is at OCHSA in Santa Ana. I didn't get in that dept. but i was accepted into the Commercial Dance Dept. where I hope to further my dance training since my funds are limited. There are not a lot of dance studios around my area(or that I have heard of) but I'd love to take some classes before my classes start.


Again so nice to meet you and look forward to many more conversations about my favorite type of dance...ballet




Dance is the language of your body

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I thought I'd throw in the perspective of an Interlochen dancer. I think I remember you auditioning, Ed. You took the 2/3 combined adagio class, right? I think I ate lunch with you, too.

Last year was my first year at Interlochen. I will be a senior (girl) next year. So anyway, on to your original post.

The teachers at Interlochen are never satisfied (In my opinion, no good teacher is ever COMPLETELY satisfied) with anyone's technique. Classes, especially Sharon's classes, are very detail-intense. The school year at Interlochen, both in ballet and academics is extremely intense. I cannot imagine the faculty accepting anyone and then saying "you're so good" all year, and never demanding anything more. I have found that they respect work, and that the more you work, the more the teachers there will expect from you.

You gave, as an example, having to relearn tombe pas de bouree pirouette. Every teacher I have been to has had to reteach me certain steps. Interlochen was no different. I do not feel that I "wasted a year in my life learning bad habits." The classes are just as intense as the ones I have taken at various company-affiliated summer programs around the country. I work with everything that I have at every class at Interlochen. Now, after a summer away and over three weeks until we go back, I am incredibly excited to return.

I hope that some of this has put your mind at ease. I just wanted you to know that someone is going to Interlochen who enjoys it and who is learning tremendous amounts.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.



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