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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Multiple ballet teachers vs single teacher


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LyricalP, I think it should be noted that there is a big difference between experiencing various teaching personalities while away during the summer and  day to day technique training in a year round setting. I do agree with you that sometimes a different approach, perspective and terminology can be helpful when a dancer is struggling with a specific concept. It is also certainly fun and interesting to work with a new choreographer or take a master class with a new teacher, but in the day to day training when various teachers want to see something different can be a disadvantage. I am sure it can be done if all staff are on the same page but that is not always the case.

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Sounds like the teachers might not be communicating enough with each other. 

Four different regular teachers would be too many if they are teaching differently enough and the students are having to change methods for each class.

My daughter has never had an issue with the variety at intensive, with four different teachers over the course of three weeks.  However, having four teachers for four classes year round does seem  challenging. 

It’s one thing to have variety and another for the basic method to vary.  I can imagine if the teachers have different backgrounds that students might have trouble adjusting technique per class.  My daughter has had a maximum of two regular ballet teachers not counting subs and make ups. 

While there are some differences, my daughter has been able to adjust.  I think it is because she has exposure to other teachers periodically and she manages to follow.

Four does seem like a lot if they are teaching different methods for the same movements. 


Edited by lyricalp
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Noodles, I definitely agree. My dd has gone to a different summer program each year for the past 3 years & the results are splendid despite the different schools, multiple teachers, and sometimes even multiple genres. As for the year-round training, the dance season has ended for us & students' abilities & placements are scattered. My dd did okay, but my niece seemed affected by this disarray in her level & has to repeat it. Many dancers are leaving because they aren't happy with the overall results from this past year. But I took the advice from dancemaven & spoke with the AD. Apparently many parents spoke up & she ensured me that this type of scheduling won't happen again. We will stick with the school for another year &  hope that things look up.

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  • 1 month later...

I am very interested in the input given by vrsfanatic on this topic. My DD is 12 and studies at a pre professional school. Her schedule for fall includes 5 ballet classes, two pointe classes, one contemporary class, and one specialty jazz type class (a kick class taught by a former Rockette on artistic staff at the school). She is not taking any classes outside of the curriculum provided for her level at the school. 

She is scheduled to have 4 different ballet teachers, and one teacher for the contemporary/jazz. Last year she had 2 ballet teachers and 1 contemporary. My DD is familiar with all teachers as they are long-standing faculty, but I am now wondering if there is an issue with which to be concerned.

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Spencedance,  I think the issue is a matter of cohesion.  Do those instructors have a common curriculum that they are following and working together with common goals?  Or are they all out in their personal isolated “space” teaching a curriculum independent of the others? 

At DD’s home academy, she had a single teacher for the pre-pre-ballet years (age 3-5), then a second single teacher for the early pre-ballet years (age 6 ~8, we are getting into the fuzzy memories of long ago now 😉).  Then after that, she’d have as many as three ballet teachers, plus seperate modern, jazz, flamenco, character, and tap teachers.   

What made it all work was that ALL the ballet , modern, and jazz teachers worked with a complete written curriculum that the school had developed to co-ordinate those core disciplines.  For instance, the “babies” teacher knew exactly where she was headed in order to get the students ready for the pre-ballet teacher.  The jazz and modern teacher knew exactly when the ballet curriculum had introduced pirouettes and waited in the jazz curriculum for those skills to be learned in ballet before introducing jazz pirouettes so as not to mix up the young dancers’ muscle memory.  Same concept with modern.  Those adjunct disciplines were not begun until a certain age (8 for jazz, 10-12 for modern) so that the basics of ballet had been set. 

The ballet teachers likewise were all working from the same ballet curriculum, so while the personalities and teaching style of the teachers were different, the skills and techniques they were teaching were the same.  So no messing with muscle memory.  One teacher was warmer and fuzzier, one was tough but kind, one was in-between and another was rather odd (and taught character and only a few scattered upper level classes).   The dancers had the same team of teachers all the way through the levels.  How many a dancer might have any given year would depend on how many classes that level had.  

The key, of course, was the written curriculum and the staff meetings to make sure they all understood where individual dancers were and that they remained on the same page.

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The schedule actually sounds quite good however, I do not recommend a different teacher everyday for her age group. There may not be an issue at all. As dancemaven stated, it can be done well with organization and quality/qualified teachers. Since you asked my opinion, I am giving you my honest answer. I do not believe in changing teachers for 12 year olds. At 16, I might have a different response.

All the best to you and your dancing child.

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Thank you all for your input. This is very helpful in evaluating what's in my daughter's best interest, both as a child and a dancer. The child part can often be forgotten with these very mature young people. So I appreciate the thoughts shared on this thread. And will use them in considering this potential schedule. Thank you!

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  • 7 months later...

So, I would like to revisit this topic. Last year, DD had 5 teachers for 2 classes/week & a rehearsal. I last left off speaking with the AD, who assured me that the scheduling conflict wouldn't happen again. We are in a new year & DD has had one teacher. In fact, it's the same one who was inconsistent last year. The fall semester went by wonderfully. However, since coming back from winter break in January, the teacher's been absent a lot again. Although I must say she isn't absent as often as she was last year (instead of being gone for a whole week/weeks at a time, she's now absent for maybe 1 day each week).

Anyway, we were just informed that she has abruptly left her teaching position, & the current sub will split teaching the class with another teacher that DD hasn't had yet for the remainder of the year. Of course things happen & the teacher may have to tend to a true emergency or something of the sort (they didn't provide any details as to why she left). Yet, this woman has been inconsistent since last year & since the AD assured parents this sort of thing wouldn't happen again, and yet it is, I am stuck somewhere between being sympathetic for the teacher & what she may be facing (that is, if it is truly an emergency because why else would a teacher leave so abruptly?) & being frustrated with her inconsistency & lack of professionalism, & the school's role in keeping her around knowing all of this.

I am just venting. I don't know if I will (or should) say say something again or just keep quiet on the issue since the year ends in another 3 months or so & I am almost certain DD won't have her again (she doesn't teach beyond DD's current age group & level). Any advice, similar stories, or wise words on dealing with this ongoing issue?

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Because of her instability, she may also have been let go DancemumNYC. If I were in your shoes, I would see how training goes forward.  There is nothing the AD can change about what has already happened and nothing more they can do to fix it than assigning new teachers. Since there is only 3 months left, and as long as teaching consistency improves, and the teaching is up to par, I would probably stand back and keep a cautious eye open. 

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I also suspected that she may have been let go. That's really too bad. When she was there, DD really liked her (and way more than any of the subs!). DD felt she was a great teacher. :Sigh: I will definitely keep my lips closed & eyes open. Thank you for allowing me to vent.

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  • 2 months later...

My DK has two at current ballet school and has private lessons with another teacher from another school which we love.  

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Atari87, how many times/week does your child study ballet? My concern was 5 teachers for only 2 days of classes. 

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