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I got annoyed by this adult classmate


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Hi everyone,

I recently joined this adult ballet classes as a sort of new commer.

I'm fairly experienced but of course I realize that most students are advanced with rich experience (e.g. having danced professionally)

One day I had hard time catching up with some combination, where this classmate (looking 70+ looking lady) came to me not for correction but saying "you have to turn out more"

Even after the class in the locker room she showed me 'how to turn out' 
I've never experienced this embarrassment. (I do realize I should turn out more!)  I couldn't take it positively...  since I have never talked to her.  even don't know her name...

I think sharing tequniue is positive thing, but this type of personal comment is not appreciated.  What do you think?


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  • Redbookish


  • Chasse Away


  • LaLaDancer


  • Ballerinamom2girls


 Ballerinamom2girl, Thank you for your reply!

Sure, if she's the only one that's 'really old', I would have taken that way, but surprisingly majority is 60/ 70s dancers!!  (I'm a 50+ tiny woman, but looking much younger)

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I hope no one takes offense to the "really old" comment, I just think that's rather old (age 70) for ballet, specifically :). 

Still...old women tend to think they have wonderful wisdom to pass on, so I would still recommend the smile and nod.  Maybe she'll never bring it up again.

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I'm sorry you experienced this LaLaDancer! Giving unsolicited corrections is definitely considered impolite in dance class. The teacher is there to teach, the students to learn. 

I would guess that this dancer was a 'newcomer' to ballet and didn't know all the etiquette yet, or just didn't care. She probably thought she was being helpful by sharing some of her corrections with you, i.e. she had been told to 'turn out' more and recognized that you also needed to. What she failed to understand is a) that is super rude and b) teachers only give corrections that they think the student can digest at the time. Your teacher might have recognized you need for turnout but maybe they wanted you to focus on learning the exercises and becoming more comfortable in class before you start focusing on turnout. (edit: sorry I thought you were also new to ballet but I realize you've said you were experienced, either way teachers have their reasons for the corrections they give /don't give).

I think this lady just might not have been taught ballet etiquette, children get taught these kinds of lessons in class, for example I remember hearing "StudentName, are you the teacher, or am I the teacher?" a few times when I was younger. But it is hard to work this kind of lesson into a class for adults without also being patronizing about it. I mean, I think it would always be rude to comment on someones dancing without them asking about it regardless of what you know about ballet class etiquette, but maybe in some other activities participants give each other corrections all the time and it is considered more 'helpful' then 'rude', and maybe this dancer is coming from this kind of background. When I go rock climbing, people are always giving me advice like 'you should find your balance with three points of contact before you move' and I'm like 'okay cool thanks :)' because there is no teacher in rock climbing anyways, but this kind of advice would be frown upon in a dance class because if you give corrections it is sort of like saying you are more qualified then the teacher.

Anyways as a personal anecdote I remember being in a class where the teacher was trying to correct my retire for pirouettes and was physically moving my retire to the right spot. I go to the back of the room to practice while the other group dances, and this dancer probably about 40 years my senior comes and grabs my leg and tries to position it like my teacher had done, except (judging from the way she dances) knew very little about ballet technique (there is nothing wrong with dancing for fun) so she ended up lifting my hips and grabbing my foot from the outside forcing it to sickle. I was pretty annoyed but I brushed it off because she's a sweet lady and probably though she was helping.

I think new dancers should get a 'Ballet Etiquette 101: 200 Things to NEVER Do or Say in Ballet' course before they start there first class, because apparently some things aren't as obvious to other people as you would think. And adults never get taught these things like children do. 

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2 hours ago, Ballerinamom2girls said:

old women tend to think they have wonderful wisdom to pass on

Generally, they do. I've done class with 80 year olds, and learnt about how to remain graceful and active - I hope I can be so extraordinary in 10 years' time when I am 70. But we live in a society which marginalises "old" women.

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11 minutes ago, Redbookish said:

Generally, they do. I've done class with 80 year olds, and learnt about how to remain graceful and active - I hope I can be so extraordinary in 10 years' time when I am 70. But we live in a society which marginalises "old" women.

They usually do, yes, which is why I recommended letting it go..  I guess what I'm trying to say is, older people get a pass in my book.  When I get unsolicited parenting advice from older people, I smile and nod :)

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Yes but Redbookish, does being 80 excuse you from standard class etiquette? I think it's impolite to correct a fellow student in class whether you are 11 or 111, whether it is your 2nd class ever or your 200 000th class, because in the end it is disrespectful to the teacher. I'm all for smiling and nodding too Ballerinamom, but it's because I assume they don't know any better, and feel weird telling someone older then me about manners. Anyone with enough experience to give corrections probably wouldn't anyways (unless of course they were teaching the class), as through all that experience they've learned ballet etiquette. 

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I appreciate Chassee Away's reply.  Yes, I'm talking about etiquette.  If you're experienced having 'matured wisdom', it's quite easy to use common sense.  I found the lady's comment rude and insensitive.  No one has done to me in my dance classes I've ever participated .

I would not have been annoyed that much if the lady pointed out my wrong technique or something (e.g. foot position at doing retire) 

I mean, I think 'turnout level' is a personal or very delicate issue (we're all different in level of 'turnout') although it's very basic thing for dancers. 

In this sense, I was quite annoyed and embarrassed... 

Edited by LaLaDancer
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As you guys know, the level (degree?) of turnout is not something that I can fix right away. I don't think even my teacher has been mentuining to 'individuals'.

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I would not take any offense at this comment at all. I also wouldn’t think on it any further after it was said. I was a professional dancer and was in an adult class because my own class had been canceled on that particular day. I was in my early 20’s (now in my mid 30’s 😱 lol) and had an older woman come up to me after one combination. She told me that I shouldn’t turn out so much. Now I have hip dysplasia and have a bit beyond 180 degree range. I never turn out more that 180 but I think this was the first time she had ever seen a professional dancer with maximized controlled turnout in a class. I get it, it can look bizarre. I thanked her for her concern and told her I would be more careful, then I went about finishing class. I’ve had other students snip at me or correct me and I always try and ask myself if they have a point, even though I know it isn’t their place to correct. 9 Times out of 10 it comes from a genuine desire to help someone, not to embarrass or irritate. Perhaps she was a teacher at some point in the past, even if she can no longer dance that way now. The best advice I can give is something that dancers learn pretty quickly... let the small stuff roll of your back and not get under your skin. Regardless of how she meant the comment, regardless if ballet etiquette was breached (which it was), it is so much easier to let it go than to get irritated. If it happens again just smile and say thank you, but I am working with ‘insert teacher’s name here’ on it. If she doesn’t take the hint then you can bring it to the teachers attention, or just smile kindly and disregard. But don’t let it get to you. Just a different perspective. Best of luck.

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So much also depends on the class and the circumstances.  Where I dance, the more experienced adult students take new students with little to no ballet experience under their wings.  Some would rather learn without that help (the teachers can't focus as much as might be needed on individual students) so we back off.  As people are around for a while, they become the experienced ones.  We also offer new students space between two experienced students so they can easily follow the barre and we make sure they're paired or near experienced students for center/corner as well.  Again, only if they want this.

I had a class just last night where a student came for her very first ballet class.  One comment I made to her was not to worry about turnout!  Because it's a good way to injure yourself if you push it before your body is ready and I saw her trying to duplicate the turnout the student in front of her had.  She was asking for help and said she appreciated it.  

And that's the difference.  If you want the help, great.  If you want it and it's actually helpful.  If you don't, then yeah, not so good.  The comment LaLaDancer reports seems odd to me.  I can't imagine me or anyone else in my classes telling a brand new student to turn out more.  It is more stuff like "make sure you land on a bent leg" and "this is what X move looks like slow."

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The tone and tenor of a class can vary according to the school, the teacher and whatever else. One must scope out the parameters of ballet etiquette and form. They are not all the same. I am also a student who does not enjoy uninvited interference from fellow classmates, because it interferes with the focus I must maintain with my teacher. One can respectfully explain this to the interfering student, no matter what age she or he may be: Thank you, I know you are trying to help me, but I need to focus on the instruction this teacher is giving me, as it is given.

Please don't judge every senior person by one or two encounters. There is room for everyone to learn classical ballet as long as there as teachers and classes geared to the limitations of age, which really are not standard. I began at 74 at a Russian leaning, pre-professional school that has a good adult program.  I am slim, trim, flexible and learned form quickly. I took 4 classes per week. As I approach 80, I am slowing down to one or two  classes along with Pilates Reformer. Lucky for me, my teacher is just one year younger than I and Pilates instructor is a former Ballanchine dancer. My biggest challenge is remembering combinations. I love it when you younger dancers who've grown up with the art form are in the class—I can more easily focus in on technique and epaulement. 

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Well, I think you may be being a bit too harsh. If it was said in a helpful manner. I believe  corrections should come from the teacher. I have, on occasion, offered help but I always ask if they would welcome the input. Never in class.

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