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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Credentials & stage names


5678StarMom

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My daughter has been training over the summer for several years (a few weeks, from age 9 until 11, will be 12 this summer) with a teacher who I recently found out was using a stage name. Is that normal?

 

He has an extremely long dance biography, with work spanning the 80s and 90s, in all genres from ballet to theater to music videos. A lot of his ballet credentials are from out of the country.

 

I have had a teacher of my daughter's question some of the validity of at least what he has listed in ballroom (she's a nationally ranked teacher, BFA in ballet, just part time teaching ballet for our studio), and she thinks all of it is suspect.

 

How on earth do I fact check this guy? If he is the real deal, than we have been getting world class training. I don't want to slander or insult him if he is legitimate. He's been teaching with this traveling intensive for 25 years. In the same respect, if he's a fraud, I don't want him anywhere near my daughter in pointe shoes (it'll be her first summer using them) and I don't want to waste my money.

 

I can't just walk away without explanation due to simple suspicion either because our studio requires participation for at least part of his intensive.

Edited by 5678StarMom
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Stage names are quite normal in all forms of performing arts, including ballet. It should not be looked at as a means of determining quality. The background of training and performance are what matter, not whether someone danced under their born name or not. Many years ago dancers in the US changed their names to sound Russian! Others changed their names because they just did not sound professional for their art form, and some because the names were too hard to pronounce! It should not be the issue, or an issue at all.

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Thanks for the reply! Hopefully it's nothing, it just gives me pause as a mother that I can't check his background or credentials at all. I know he has a Spanish heritage, so maybe his stage name is partly due to that!

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Try googling some of the companies he was associated with, or some of the productions he has in his bio, + his name, and see what pops up. It's likely he's legit as Miss Leigh said, but it's easy enough to check him out too!

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He's been teaching with this traveling intensive for 25 years. In the same respect, if he's a fraud, I don't want him anywhere near my daughter in pointe shoes.

 

If he has been teaching in the same intensive for 25 years, then that should be a signal that he knows what he is doing. At least enough that he has been able to maintain a teaching career for 25 years.

 

That said, each teacher has different degrees of "teaching ability" - of which you are not going to be able to judge through a background check, only through first hand experience reviews from others.

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It's his intensive company. I can't really verify that he's really been doing it that long. The classes cover all genres and ages 4-20. Jack of all trades, master of none? She is still required to attend by our tiny studio.

 

Happily my daughter was accepted to her first ballet only intensive with a small company. So no matter what, she will get a real ballet experience this year.

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Nothing comes up when I google except "dolly dinkle" teachers claiming him as a teacher. I have tried and tried so many combinations. Some of the stuff in his bio is just so far fetched. He has hired awesome and qualified ballet teachers who are easily verified with a Google search. But they only ever stay associated with him for one summer. And then they completely disassociate...de friend on facebook, never show back up again. (It's been suggested he's a bad employer, maybe not paying what he's promising). There are other staff members that stick around, but they are just basic studio teachers, very dolly dinkle. They teach the little kids.

 

My daughter's ballet teacher (BFA in ballet, 10 years performing) was concerned when she watched a class. She teaches a Russian style, but very generalized. He claims to teach Cecchetti. Our teacher said it didn't look like the "ballet was IN him" (like he hadn't grown up with it?) and it seemed like he was just reciting back memorization.

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If it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. If it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and has feathers then simply trust your gut.

 

The question though is why your DD's ballet teacher would both question his credentials and also have a studio that requires attendance at this intensive?

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My daughter's ballet teacher (BFA in ballet, 10 years performing) was concerned when she watched a class.

She is still required to attend by our tiny studio.

Personally, I think the more pertinent question is if the teacher has concerns, why are the kids required to attend?
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Our studio owner is not the ballet teacher. The studio owner is not qualified to teach kids over maybe age 8. She's generally a good business person, but not so great at taking criticism or communicating with her qualified staff. Small town problems.

 

Our ballet teacher really does want to keep working with our students. When she asked the studio owner to schedule her for another day so the students could get more ballet, she had to ask for at least 4 hours of class to make her commute worth it. It was denied. It's not a perfect situation at our studio, but at this point we are in it for a few more months.

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I would go to the studio owner and express your concerns. I would tell her the results of your search and politely inquire about his qualifications and how she came to hire him. I would express to her that you have serious concerns about your daughter's required attendance at this program and then explain to her that until his proper verifiable credentials are produced you are unwilling to pay for or require your daughter's attendance.

 

A responsible studio owner and qualified professional would immediately get on the phone and verify with this "gentleman" his credentials. If she doesn't do this, then your obligation to attend is addressed (and I would walk not run from this studio as soon as is practical). If she does verify the credentials and they supposedly check out, then I would ask to check those myself.

 

If you have paid a deposit to this man, and he proves to be a fraud, you have grounds for a refund (easy if collected through your credit card or paid to the studio). If not, then it's a done deal. If he doesn't want to give him your money back, then I would politely suggest that it would be easier and more expeditious to refund your money than deal with the embarrassment of further legal actions.

 

I grew up in a small town that matches the description of yours and I know first hand how difficult it is to find great instruction/dance training. All you have until you are willing and able to make the drive is your gut. Trust it. There are a LOT of unscrupulous types out there who are only to happy and willing to separate you from your hard-earned money. The danger is they do not care if they do harm along the way. I have thought about converting one of my parent's barns in Southwest Missouri to a dance studio and bringing my friends back for one week each summer for an intensive because I think it is so needed there--but that's a story for a different day.

 

As a final note, is there any way that you could rent some studio space, for some private instruction and work with the qualified teacher on another day? I know that you said that she needs 4 hours of classes to make the drive worthwhile, perhaps she could line up 3 more privates or 2 more privates and teach one class as well.

 

Best of luck. No matter where you live, the journey is hard, but there are people out there that are good and are willing to help you succeed!

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I drive my daughter to the qualified teacher for a private lesson a week (40 minutes each way!). There isn't enough interest for another day (according to the studio owner).

 

It's kind of a sad situation. I'm afraid our studio is full lot of people being happy with mediocre training and not reaching for anything better. I think my daughter will be stuck in a perpetual beginning pointe situation unless we make a move soon. The highest levels offered match up to begininng pointe training (and barely that!)

 

Our studio owner, although a nice person who means well, has a very defensive personality. She is allowing the traveling intensive (and thus the director of such) to be one of the main credentials for her own grand daughter to start teaching eventually. She's a college student now, getting a minor in dance, and has great teaching potential for the younger and recreational dancers...although I hope that's all she aspires to I'm sure she will end up with more advanced dancers at our studio. So I'm entirely sure after tiptoeing around the topic here and there that our owner is not at all receptive to this topic and would take any questions of credentials as an attack on her and her grand daughter at this point. I wish I would have been skeptical 2 years ago before our studio and he were so intertwined.

 

My older daughter will be fine. I'm hoping that the intensive owner won't be highly involved in actually teaching this year due to his health. He hired a ballet dancer who seems to be very qualified. At least this dancer will be teaching with him this year for our last summer! I'm chalking this up as a very expensive mistake. You live and learn!

 

Good news that's kind of unrelated...my daughter was accepted to a REAL 2 week ballet intensive! She even got a small scholarship! It's really interesting to me, however, that even without the scholarship, it's cheaper than the other intensive!

 

I hope my mistakes with not vetting my daughter's traveling teachers properly will help any other parents who happen to read this thread :)

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Lovemyjob - If you opened an intensive in MO, I'm sure you would be well received! There is, in my opinion, a major lack of options here in the Midwest. I'm hoping to be able to write a ravingly wonderful review of the Missouri Contemporary Ballet intensive after my daughter attends. We have to drive 45 minutes each way...but the next closest ballet available is about 2 hours away!

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