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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Teachers showing favoritism, how to deal?


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On 12/2/2018 at 2:57 PM, labrador said:

I expect the teacher to be invested in my child's training to the same extent that they are invested in the training of their favorite student. The teacher can have private lessons with their favorite student and fawn over them then. However, when a teacher teaches a class this teacher has a fiduciary responsibility to the entire class.  


True- favoritism is unethical in an educational setting but things do seem to change in the professional world where the goal is selling tickets and creating the best performance possible. 

But, and I am being a devil's advocate here, a teacher promoting, giving opportunities, or corrections to another child, one that may be more talented than mine, is not favoritism, even though I (or my DD) may interpret it as such. Yes, there are indeed clear cases of blatant favoritism but as a parent, I find that far too often I go to that explanation when my DD is not getting attention. 

When it's my child getting roles, corrections, and attention it's not "favoritism" in my mind, it's just my child being given what she is due. 😂🙄  But honestly, my DD  probably has benefitted from favoritism and also has been hurt by it. As Allegra Kent said, "The best revenge is dancing well." 

What I do agree with is that dance is somewhat subjective (but not as subjective as everyone claims).  Usually, you can tell who is better, stronger, has better technique.  I do agree that once you reach a certain technical, strength, and artistry threshold the choices of ADs and teachers become more subjective and more about personal preferences (e.g, I like multi-colored sprinkles on my ice cream Sunday not chocolate sprinkles. ).  What we have told our DD is don't give others control over your confidence or self-esteem. Also, we have said, when you are in an organization, watch the signs/patterns across time -- 1-2 years.  If you find that over and over you are not being chosen and your technical skills are similar, time to look for a new place.  The organization is showing you that you are not multi-colored sprinkles to them.   And DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. 

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Racism is a type of favoritism. If ADs are concerned that patrons aren’t interested in paying to see a dark skinned swan, are they justified to shut out dancers who fail the brown paper bag test? 

A good teacher brings the best out of those who are more and less talented. The director at the first ballet school my kids attended gave each student feedback at the end of class, a commendation and a correction. If a teacher cannot teach everyone in the class, the right thing to do is to inform the parents ahead of time, and not waste their precious resources.

Also, I am talking about cases where talented students are pushed aside and down to highlight a favorite who is the child of the front desk staff at the school’s , or whose parents contribute handsomely in money and volunteer hours. This form of favoritism is corruption. I am also talking about a student who is on financial aid, and is practically ignored in class, while the child of a donor, who has very limited ability receives attention and distinctions. 

This is a lack of integrity that would not be accepted in any other profession.

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Thanks for the comment Labrador. 

I do not condone racism and well, there are actually entire papers and even op-eds that do differentiate racism from favoritism.  If we are talking about racism then it's a bit of a different conversation, in my opinion.

In addition, you are right.  I have seen schools promote students because their parents were donors but also for other reasons as well, reasons that had nothing to do with their talents. And I agree this is unethical. I'm not sure about acceptance in other professions.  I see evidence of it in several. 

Just to be clear my post stated, 

"Yes, there are indeed clear cases of blatant favoritism but as a parent, I find that far too often I go to that explanation when my DD is not getting attention."

So, the point in the post was to suggest that there is a different side to what we as parents might think of as favoritism.   And my point is that a professional teacher (and not all are that) promoting a clearly talented student is not engaging in favoritism. 

I guess I would say that I am lecturing myself more than anyone else. 


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There is nothing about the original post that refers to this being a situation of racial favoritism or lack of favoritism due to racism.  Because of that, let's leave this thread about general favoritism in the ballet school (also not talking companies in this thread, the title is "teachers" which is not company related. 

For the purpose of this thread, let's define favoritism as Webster does:  Favoritism is defined as the act of giving preferential treatment to someone or something. When a teacher always calls on the kids who sit in the front row and is nicer to those kids, this is an example of a time when the teacher shows favoritism

With that definition, "preferential treatment" denies racism as an equal conversation anyway.


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A post was removed because the post above clearly moderated where the thread was going to be allowed to go.  No on board rebuttal is allowed once Moderation has occured.  If there are questions, our guidelines require pm.  (Make that 2 posts)

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  • 10 months later...
ballonne mama

My commentary is in addition to the points already made above referencing that all students should be getting instruction! If they are not, perhaps an evaluation of school is in order. And in addition to other wise commentary. This may be hard to consider, but it is well intentioned and comes from the staff & faculty perspective. Thoughts to consider....

1. Most students act differently when their parents are watching. (Parent observations always leave me slightly amused and wishing dancers would put forth so much effort in regular classes.)

2. "Favorites" who receive tons of corrections at my school are the students who are focused, prepared, make the corrections they are given, and have good attitudes. This may not be everywhere, but I'd bet it's the case in many serious academies.

3. Manners and how a dancer treats staff, faculty and their peers will escalate their likability score among the faculty! Please teach your students manners and etiquette. Entitled, over-confident, smug, unfriendly students make working with them a lot less fun.

4. Parents who are difficult (IE, have to be chased to pay tuition, try to tell us how to cast our shows, are gossipy, over-evaluate their dancers actual ability, and make comparisons about how much better their dancer is than so-and-so------ yes, gossip circles back much more than you know!) make it difficult to enjoy working with their child. I assure you we try with every ounce in our being to not let an annoying parent affect how we see the child, but it can be hard at times; we are human. Please don't be the reason we are struggling to enjoy working with your dancer and family.

All that said, I taught in a minor capacity at a school while also a parent of a very young dancer where there was obvious favoritism for the wealthy families who were prone to making random donations. It was not professional and was so obvious I felt embarrassed to be there. Luckily they were not the best training nor the only show in town so we left in search of better training and a better environment.

Also, only fair to mention an artistic director I know is fairly infatuated with a student who is not very nice (guilty of all negativities in #3 above plus some) and her parent is very difficult. This student, while not terribly skilled for her age in a pro-pro environment, has ridiculous facility. It's as if all the ballet gods each casted all the special physical gifts. I can see the favoritism from my vantage point, (though it's not in-your-face blatant it is definitely there) and it makes me cringe. It's as if the director just can't help herself because it's such an unusual situation.

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