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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Class troubles


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I´ve got a big problem with one of my ballet teachers and I hope, someone will have a good tip for me: I go to several ballet schools, but my main teacher is a young woman, who has got her own school - unfortunately together with her boyfriend. . Right now, one of my classes is with him, but I don´t like it very much, because he only "gives" the class, hardly corrects anyone. The only reason why I`m still in his class is that it follows one of my classes with her (it is on Saturdays and my class with the woman is for beginners, which is good, but not enough for me, so I also take his class in order to supplement it. His other classes I never attend.). Furthermore, this man treats me very unfriendly, always puts me in the back althought the people in front are not better and he knows I prefer to be near the mirror, allows other people to push me aside at the barre and ignores me as far as corrections are concerned. In short: I don´t like him!

Last weekend, my main teacher was at a seminar, which she had told as before, and he substituted her on Friday and Saturday. So, I went to other schools these days. Today, he wanted to talk to me and said, it was not allright that I don´t come to the classes when she is not there and he didn´t want me in his class anymore as I didn´t want to work with him. As I´m not very self-confident, I said that I DO want to come to his class on Saturday, but later, I thought about it and now I´m really angry. As it is a private school, it is my right to choose the teachers I like, or not? Later in the day, I talked to a former collegue of his and she told me [. . . . ]

I´m really thinking of cancelling his class and driving to another school after hers, but I´m afraid that he will influence her in a negative way against me (he has done so before). What should I do? She is a very important person to me and I can´t imagine ballet without her anymore!

Edited by dancemaven
Removed second-hand information/comments.
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Sounds like you need to talk to her! I'm sure he has already told her what happened (his version) anyway. You could start by asking her what he meant when he said you didn't want to work with him, and explain that you had thought it was the other way around and that you had thought he didn't like you, that was why you didn't feel comfortable going to his class. She may be able to get to the bottom of things and straighten it all out.

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Squirrel, I'm not sure if you're a teen student, in full-time or pre-professional vocational training as a dancer, or an adult ballet student. I say this because I think that the context matters.


It seems to me there's a lot of emotion flying around! Can I suggest another point of view that might help you?

You've made the decision that this teacher doesn't like you, on the basis of where he puts you in the class. That's quite a big assumption. Before your recent conversation, was there any other direct evidence of his feelings about you? Because it could be that you've misinterpreted teaching strategies or practices.


Speaking as someone who teaches (although not ballet), generally I don't have much of any sort of feeling about my students in a personal emotional way. It's a waste of my energy to "like" or "dislike" my students. I am pleased about their behaviours when they're taking up the opportunities I offer for them to learn; and I'm displeased when they don't. But this has nothing to do with liking/disliking them as individuals.


Also, your focus is just on you. A teacher's focus is on the whole class. So while where you are placed in class may seem crucial; for the teacher, he is just trying to balance all students' needs and abilities.


So it could be that this teacher has no personal opinion about you, but teaches in a certain way. But he has seen your actions, which you've based on the assumption that he dislikes you, as making you difficult to teach. Maybe he thinks you dislike him, and are resistant to his teaching because of this?


I don't know, and maybe I've got it wrong.


But one thing you could do is to try to take the emotion out of it. Don't make any assumptions about what this teacher thinks or feels about you. Just do the class with as much enthusiasm as for the teacher you say you adore (I'd be taking the emotion out of that as well!)


Go into class assuming everyone likes you in a neutral, polite way, and that you're there to work and learn. Try not to see everything as some kind of comment on whether or not peopple like you. Do class for you, not to please others or have them like you. See what happens - good luck !

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Thank you both for your answers! Redbookish, I´m an adult student, but I was not allowed to dance as a child and I take it very seriously. I train as much as pre-professional students and in class, I never consider myself an adult, but a student and I like being treated like the teens (but of course only in class).

Yes, there has been evidence before - he has been ignoring me for a longer time now and he never tells anyone else to go to the back, no matter how bad they are. I´m definetely not the worst student in class and I never miss a class (except for the ones when he substitutes my main teacher) - everyone else at the school misses classes more often. I´ve already tried to talk about it to him, but he denies that he doesn´t work with me, gave me one correction and then, it was all like before. His class is much too difficult for almost everyone. My main teacher said, he must make experiences (but he has already teaching at her school for two years and at the beginning, it was better than now - otherwise, I would´t have taken it. And he has taught at another school before...).


Jane S, I´m really considering talking to the woman, because my main concerns are that he will influence her against me - and I´ve learned a lot from her and don´t want to lose her...


Redbookish, you are right in that I´m a very emotional person myself and it probably would be better for me to be less emotionally involved. But unfortunately that´s easier said than done!

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Guest Pas de Quoi

Hi Squirrel: I can understand how difficult a situation such as the one you describe can be. I have had (on very rare occasions) similar experiences. Speaking from a teacher view point, I would have agreed with Redbookish completely - I try to be encouraging and polite/friendly to all my students. I am in the classroom to teach and hopefully in a professional way ... except that I know this is not always the case.


I recently decided not to attend classes taught by a very experienced teacher who had her favorites in class and let the rest of the class know this. I was not one of the favorites and she placed me next to a pole, by the door, in every class, for every non-traveling center exercise. In the traveling exercises, she placed me in the last group. I could have continued to go to that class, as in many other ways it was a good class. I tried to do so for a full year and then decided not to go back. I just decided it wasn't working for me.


As you are an adult, and I understand, not in a defined program of pre-professional training, I should think you would be free to attend those classes you feel will most benefit you. There were other reasons I chose not to attend the class I mentioned above. 1) The teacher was always at least 10-15 minutes late, 2) The teacher gave at most a 30 minute barre for an advanced level class, and 3) The teacher had some very outdated ideas about pelvic placement. These things were much more important to me than the obvious opinion of me as a dancer this teacher displayed.


I hope you find a solution that works for you .... :ermm:

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You said that you want to be treated like the pre-professional students, but I doubt that a pre-professional/teen student would be allowed to skip classes without consequence because she didn't like the substitute teacher. Could you have given off an impression that you didn't intend? (I don't mean last weekend. I mean early/previously in your relationship with this teacher.)

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As it is a private school, it is my right to choose the teachers I like, or not?


Hmmm, well, I think it's then also a teacher's "right" to choose not to teach particular students. If you think like this, you may need to be ready for other consequences.


Yes, we're all emotional people, but part of being an adult is learning to control our emotions, even though it's difficult. It IS difficult, so I suppose I'd try to think through what I wanted to achieve. What is your ideal resolution of the situation?


No doubt, you'd want your teacher to change his behaviour towards you. But that is unlikely to happen. So what then? Do you want to find a way to keep being able to do his class? Or do you want to find a way to take enough classes without having to take his? What is your ideal outcome of the situation, given current circumstances?


No need to answer any of these questions here if you don't want to, but these are the sort of questions I'd be asking myself. Then, depending on my answers, I'd be trying to work out how to get to my desired position - setting a realistic goal, and then working towards it.


By the way, I've moved this thread to the Adult Ballet Students forum, as it's the appropriate place for this discussion.

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Thank you for your answers! I put it in "cross talk" on purpose because many teens know problems with favouritism and so, I´d have appreciated their comments, too.


Gav, that´s an intersting question! I don´t think so, but of course, you never know which impression you make! The "pre-professional" teens are missing classes much more often than I do...


Redbookish, the ideal outcome would probably be finding a suitable substitute for the class...

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