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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult ballet class with mixed levels


pavlov

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Hi.

I am a beginner level ballet student, but not brand new to ballet. I am also older. I recently joined a ballet class for adult students. When I talked to the studio, they told me it was open to all levels of students. I bought a class card. There is only one other student in the class besides me. This student is advanced. She is an older student like me not planning to go professional. I was told there were other students, but they had dropped out. After three months of classes, still only just us two students in the class. The instructor told me I should consider a different studio. She said "it's not fair to this other student that I have to slow the class down for you". So if I leave the class, it will be just her and this student. This student will essentially be getting a private lesson.

 

I am not going to leave because I've already purchased a class card and don't want to hassle with a refund (I actually don't even know if they will give me one) and also I feel the instructor should tailor her class since it's only two students, to give us different routines to do, mine can be more simple. She has been doing it that way, but just feels I should step aside now since she feels more advanced dancers take priority, which I don't agree with. I also don't feel it's right for this student to be having her own private lesson at the studio's expense, especially when they are trying to build up the adult class. I pay the same amount of money for my classes that she does so I feel just as entitled to be there. Know what I mean? I guess if I were paying less somehow, it would be different. I'm paying the same amount and the studio profits off my being there. There are also no beginner level classes in my area anyway. I just don't like feeling that I'm being pushed out of the class. I feel that eventually they are going to attempt to bully me out. I am learning and I need to be there. Everyone's gotta start somewhere.

Edited by pavlov
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I'm surprised that it is still running with only 2 students! I presume that you dont know anyone who would like to join? Could you help promote the class at your workplace etc? I would refuse to leave given the circumstances as well but it would seem to me that the ideal way to sort the situation out would be for some more dancers to join the class. Perhaps the others 'dropped out' because of the attitude from the teacher? Maybe the owner would like to know what she said to you?

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That's a good question, I really don't know how it's still running after all this time, with just 2 students, because before I came, there was only one student. Just one. So it's been running that way for a long time. I'm not sure the studio would continue to pay a teacher for just one student. The teacher and student are kind of like buddies. I'm the fifth wheel. I don't feel very welcome in the class. The teacher seems to prefer to teach advanced level. This is what I've seen in other classes - more advanced students are given more consideration. But when I initially signed up for classes, I told the owner of the studio that my level was more on the beginning level. I was honest. They should have told me upfront if it would be a problem. They said no problem, this class is open to all levels.

Edited by pavlov
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Well, I think they just give more priority to more advanced students. I don't think it's a teaching preference. We all pay the same for our classes though.

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That sounds like a really difficult situation. Are you absolutely certain that there aren't any beginning classes in your area? In my hometown I would only have a mixed level class available but I did a little digging and found a school a half an hour drive away in a neighboring city that offers adult level classes from absolute beginner to advanced. It's not always a fun drive but it is nice to be in class with others who are in the same boat so to speak.

I would not leave until using all of the prepaid classes but I would not personally want to continue with a school where I did not feel welcome.

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I've been to several classes in my area already. They all say "we accept beginner level" but the class is advanced. This is due to the fact that there are a lot more advanced dancers out there. The reality is that I have to learn to dance with more advanced students, no matter what.

 

Since there's only 2 of us, I think the instructor just needs to find a way to work with us at different levels. It shouldn't be that hard. If the more advanced student doesn't like it, it would actually be easier for her to find another class than it would be for me. There's lots of advanced classes around.

Edited by pavlov
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I would talk to the director. If so many student drop out, maybe they all drop out because of the teacher teachibg only to the advanced student. It worth a try (at the end of the prepaid class of course). Maybe try to ask the other school for a specific beginner class. We have a school aroubd that do not advertise it because it's already full from year to year but maybe if someone drop off you could be on the waiting list ??

Good luck for your class though

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The advanced student wants to progress and the beginner wants to learn. It is a beautiful art form that requires so much from beginning to end (if there is an end). This is a very unfortunate situation for each...advanced and beginner. Teaching older adult beginners requires it's own dedication, technique and methodology. Perhaps the teacher has reached a point she/he doesn't know how to bridge. In a perfect world, one would bring the problem to the school director, but it's not a perfect world and beginners aren't always heard. How to do that in a way that doesn't place blame...that invites dialog and creative problem solving? I am an older adult beginner as well. It took a lot of moxie to finally find a school dedicated to teaching at "any and all" adult levels. It's one thing to teach steps and another to teach technique. I wish Pavlov lived in my area. My school, Salt Creek Ballet, is running a bring-a-friend-to-class week. I would love to bring you along. I am the oldest of the old, studying Vaganova method and moving on. Ballet is a wonderful way to stay young and feel connected, mind, body and soul. If your school cannot accommodate you (for whatever reason), look to neighboring towns. I drive 40 mins to my school. It's worth it. Good luck. Don't give up.

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Thanks for all the responses which I have read.

 

I'm thinking that a private lesson costs around $100 an hour or more. This other dancer was essentially getting a private lesson before I came in to the class. Must have been nice for her and easy for the instructor. I don't think the studio can continue on like that, though. So I may not buy another class card because there is a risk they might cancel the class, as it's obvious that would be financially difficult for the studio.

 

I've been to three other studios so far trying to find the right one.

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I'd love to go to bring a friend to class, if I lived in the area. Can I ask what the Vaganova method is? I haven't heard of it. I know different schools have different methods of teaching.

 

I went to one dance school years ago that didn't challenge the students at all and I think that's why I never advanced. I have extreme difficulty with turns as well and scoliosis in my lower back.

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And I'd love to bring you!! There are several ballet training "methods"... Cecchetti (Italian), Vaganova (Russian), RAD (Royal Academy of Dance-British based), Balanchine (not really a method, but a style) and probably others. Check these out online. If you can probably see something on Youtube. When I first started training, it was not at Salt Creek...more of an eclectic approach and I didn't get much technique. I did a lot of online searching for how to and what is it?

 

I also have difficulty with turns. Chaine is easier for me than pirouette en dehors from 4th. But we keep on keeping on, right? Best to you.

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Pirouette en dehors is the hardest turn for me! What is strange is that I could do it 15 years ago. I can't anymore. I quit ballet lessons for a while and recently started up so I'm back to the beginning level of dance. I've been seeing a chiropractor and hoping that will help with my back problems, so maybe my balance will improve.

Edited by pavlov
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This sounds like a terrible situation for everyone. You are absolutely right that, if they told you the class was for all levels and knew you were a beginner and took your money anyway, that they have the obligation to give you appropriate instruction at least for a trial set of classes (your class card). I also know that it's a very real thing to be more advanced than other students and not want the class slowed down for them (I'm intermediate, not advanced, but I feel it when we get new students who aren't able to pick it up immediately).

 

Either way, this is not the studio for you. The fact that there is only one other student in the class, for a long time, tells me other students haven't felt welcome or accommodated there either. Small classes can be the fault of marketing, not quality, but I'm guessing it's more the latter here. From your initial post it sounds like the teacher gave you 3 months to "catch up" then asked you to consider another place. I would do that. Try classes elsewhere. Even if not more to your level, they might be more welcoming and able to work with different levels at the same time. Then get a refund (if the teacher asked you to leave, the studio will likely refund the unused classes).

 

Sure, on principle they should be treating you better. But the reality is, they won't, and you're not well served in a class like that. I'd get out. If there are so many classes and advanced dancers where you are, I bet there are other adults at your level. Find them and try to get a class together. You might also post a thread asking for suggestions in your area.

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