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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult ballet class with mixed levels


pavlov

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Thanks, but I am not going to leave and I can't just get a group of beginner level dancers together on my own to have our own class. It's not like any of us could teach it, you know? I am also limited to where and when I can take classes due to childcare issues. I have to keep going to the same studio even if they don't like it. Advanced dancers don't take priority over others.

Edited by pavlov
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Guest Pas de Quoi

I don't believe the advanced dancers have any options either. It is not their fault they are advanced and have a beginning/continuing student in their class. I imagine as much as you don't feel comfortable working at a level above your current level, they might feel they are "short changed" for having to slow down to accommodate dancers at a lower level. They are also paying the same price for the same class. I feel it is the problem of the studio owners.

 

If one continues to take the class that is offered without expressing reservations about the class level and content, that is of course each person's decision and if the studio owners don't get any "negative feedback" they are not at fault for continuing to offer this class in its present format.

 

I wouldn't teach or take a class under these circumstances. That's just me. :ermm:

 

The only other thing I can suggest is to consider purchasing some very good teaching DVD's. Finis Jhung has some great beginner/continuing ballet DVD's available. If one chooses to do that, one can "practice" at home, using those DVD's, and then take the class that is offered, until something else becomes available. Not ideal, but an option.

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Keep in mind that they aren't required to "sell" their "product" to you (or anyone else, for that matter). If you want to continue in their classes, at least beyond this class card, you may be better off having a polite conversation with them now about your experience and concerns.

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Concerning the get a group of beginners to have a class on your own, I think that what the others suggested was that once you find the group ask tescher/studio owner for a beginner class. Like that they see that beginner class are a product that people ask and want. It's wasn't suggest that you teach the class by yourself.

In my town, we asked for a second adult ballet a week with all the people interested. It worked for a couple of years until the head office change to a really mentally ill lady (out of subject).

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It's a difficult situation & I can see both sides. The other dancer and the teacher aren't doing anything wrong, except that now the teacher is not doing what the management of the school says s/he should, if the teacher is not accommodating you as a student. If it were me, I'd be having a chat with the studio management, and saying politely & assertively that the class is not what they advertised. But I think you need not to talk about what sounds like a bit of resentment towards the teacher & other student. This is absolutely understandable as you say - you feel like the third wheel. But that isn't the teacher or other student's "fault" as such. It's a studio management issue. I think you need to present it to the studio management in that way.

 

I think that Gav's advice is pertinent here: you need to have a polite conversation with the management.

 

One thing that strikes me - here in the UK, a class listed as "Open" is very likely to be at advanced/professional level. Classes under that level are usually listed as Beginners, Elementary, or Intermediate. Could that be the problem at your studio?

 

You say you're not new to ballet, so maybe you have enough knowledge to adapt exercises and combinations to your level of ability (it sounds as though it's not just training, but physical limitations that you have to dance within)? I know I have to do this the other way - find simple ways to make exercises a bit more difficult for myself (with my teacher's permission of course) - such as using a rise to demi-pointe as appropriate at the barre (eg ronde de jambe en lair, grand battement, frappés), or taking my leg off the floor in an adage which is set á terre, and so on. Could you do the reverse? Take out the beats, keep everything on the floor, and cut out rises, cut out complex port de bras at the barre - just use second - and so on?

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Pavlov, you might find this thread in Teachers interesting, to help understand the teacher's point of view

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=63511&p=637508

 

[Mod reminder: as students, we can't write in the Teacher's forum, but we can read it]

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I don't know if they call it open or not. It's hard to define a class when it's not really a class - there was only one person in it, for a long time. They told me they were open for all levels. It is definitely not a professional class though. I think they have one of those already. I told the studio owners exactly what my level was. I would never misrepresent myself as being more advanced than what I am. They said they were okay with that.

 

I know the other dancer takes classes at other studios as well as this one, so she has other options. She can quit going if she wants. I know it must be frustrating for her with me in the class, but there's only 2 students, (just me and her) so she's getting a lot of personalized attention regardless. She still has a huge advantage being in this class. It seems selfish that this student wants me out so she can continue to get a private lesson at a class rate.

 

I do plan to get the DVDs and practice, but it would take me a year or more to get to the level that she is at.

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I've had accidental private classes before. I had nearly a whole summer of them a couple years ago when I was the only one who showed up for class most days. I appreciated being given the opportunity to work on the stuff that I really needed to work on and to get a teacher who had nothing to do but watch me and give me corrections. But it gets old really fast. Most dancers, child and adult, enjoy the social aspect of the class. We learn not just from getting corrections but by watching other dancers and seeing how they handle the moves, what they get wrong, how they fix it, etc. A private is nice once in a while (or if you need it to catch up, work on a problem due to an injury, prep for a role, etc) but too many of them gets boring.

 

I support you, Pavlov, in your quest to find a ballet class suited to your level that also meets your scheduling needs. But I have to say I'm finding your comments more and more concerning. Please do go talk to the studio director about this. I'm seeing you attribute motivations to your classmate and your teacher that don't seem warranted based on the information you've provided. It is not selfish to want a class suited to your level. That's true for both the students in your class. Also, a year apart in levels is pretty close, given that you're not a full-on beginner. A few modifications ought to be enough to give you both what you need. But if you really need different classes, see what the director has to say. Have you had any luck posting a thread asking for class suggestions in your area? Maybe a local ad would bring out more students at your level and, as others here have suggested, you could go together to a studio and ask if they can add a class for you.

 

Even if we all agreed with you that working to kick out the student who had been there longer was the right thing to do, it's unlikely to happen. So you need a Plan B.

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To answer your question about "who" is pushing me out, It may well be the student who has an attitude and perhaps the teacher is picking up on that. I really don't know. They are friends with each other. They've been working together for a while now, just the two of them. In a class with one teacher, one student. I understand that it is a change for them now that someone new has come along. The teacher is the one who said to me "it's not fair for her that you are in the class". I have never complained about the advanced pace.

Edited by pavlov
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I can find another class but it will take me several months. Until then, I need to continue class where I am at. If I go several months, or even a few weeks, without classes, I will get even further behind.

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OK, so the only comments have come from the teacher. I don't think it's fair for you to impute any blame on the other student and, in any event, she's not the one who misled you about the nature of the classes or asked you to leave.

 

The way I see it, you have two choices. First, you can talk to the studio owner and explain what has happened since you bought your class card. I would hope that conversation ends with the studio owner talking to the teacher OR with the studio owner offering you a refund. Which it is will be up to the owner. Or if a refund is what you want, you could just ask for it. Second, you can keep going to the class until your class card expires and tell the teacher you'd like to get what you can from it since you've already signed up.

 

But whichever approach you take is your choice, and I think you should try to take ownership of your side of the situation and come to terms with it. As I've said before here, life is too short to do things that make you miserable.

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I totally agree with Gav! Sensible advice. And I think you need to be really careful about allowing your feelings to gnaw away - you seem (from your posts here) to resent the friendship between the teacher & the student. There is nothing wrong with them being friends.

 

The problems are - from what I can tell from your posts - that

a) the teacher has said something inappropriate to you about it being unfair on the other student. If the teacher said precisely this, then ideally, a response at the time, along the lines of "But the studio management told me this was the class for my level & experience." But we rarely have the perfect on-the-spot response to rude or inappropriate things said to us!

 

b ) the other problem is the mismatch between what the studio management told you, and how the class actually is. You need to take this up with the studio management.

 

In the meantime, if you are determined to work out your class card, or if the studio won't give you a refund (which would be unreasonable of them) maybe you could start another thread in the Adult Students' forum to get advice about how to cope with the technicalities of a class that goes at a more advanced pace & level than you are used to. I gave you a few suggestions upthread. There are some very lovely & experienced teachers who could give advice about how to - respectfully - adapt combinations so that you can do them safely.

 

There's a thread in the Teachers' forum which I linked to, where the issue of different levels in one class is being discussed from the teacher's point of view. There's a lot of wisdom here. And you won't be the only adult student who's had to adapt to a more advanced class than they were expecting. We could all share our experiences of doing that . I've found that once I get over the sheer panic, I have some strategies that help me vaguely keep up with a class which is probably just above my reach. You could describe typical combinations, and we could suggest adaptations, maybe?

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Thanks. You're right about the inappropriateness of the comment. I think that's what has really been annoying me more than anything else. I think the teacher could have conveyed her message better, with "I don't think I can teach you at the level you are at" or "this may not be the right class for you". Or something along those lines. But telling me how unfair it is for the other student, is an attempt to make me feel guilty and bad. She has actually given me easier routines to do during class, than what she gave the other student, so I thought this was working out in the beginning.

 

I don't have an issue with trying to adapt to a more advanced class. I actually prefer that more advanced students are in the class because it helps me learn and challenges me. I have also been in classes with beginners who were less experience than I was; it didn't bother me. I didn't resent them being there. I'll probably start looking for a new place but will keep taking there until I find one. The reason why is, I think she is an incompetent instructor if she can't teach a class of only 2 students. I've been in classes where there was one teacher with as many as 50 students, all at different levels and the teacher could manage it.

Edited by pavlov
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