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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Awkward Situation


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I've been taking an RAD intermediate class for a year, and just started back this week, probably looking at next summer for the exam.

The teacher who usually takes the class is hugely experienced, teaches RAD associates, and is just generally a teacher of incredible calibre.  She is the reason I take this class at this school.  She takes adults seriously, despite it being a "kids" class, and will take us through exams without prejudice.   Yesterday after class she announced that she would be handing the class to one of the younger teachers in training at the school, because she wanted to learn the syllabus.  This person frequently takes classes with me at my other school, and in the few classes that she has covered for emergencies in the past, it's not been brilliant.  She doesn't really teach adults very well, doesn't really correct, or doesn't know how to without doing what she does with kids - which is yelling at them.

The other adult in the class (the rest are teenagers, and we kept our misgivings to ourselves) and I have agreed that we aren't terribly happy about this.  I fully understand it from a staff development point of view, from a business point of view.  I get that someone has to be the guinea pigs for everyone  - everyone has to have a "first" - and I know at some point, I'll be asking for people to take a leap of faith with me. 

So I'm not being fair or reasonable.  But......these classes are far more expensive than my other school, and I take them specifically for the instruction of this  teacher.  We've agreed that we'll both go next week, so we can say we have given it a go, but aren't terribly sure what to do from there.  I don't want to cause any offence or upset.  I know that taking class with lots of different teachers is a good thing.  I just don't feel it's a good thing with this particular person for this particular class for me....  But what to do about it is a really tricky conundrum!

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I think your plan of action is all you can do, really.  Give the new teacher a try, see if she can adjust her teaching style to the different sort of class, and if she can’t - well, you vote with your feet. 

It’s  probably polite - and useful  to the studio owner/director - to let the owner/director know why you leave (if you leave). You never know, it may lead to an improvement in the younger teacher’s classroom management style or a move back to your preferred teacher. 

Pits tough when there are changes to something that works really well for you, isn’t it? But sometimes we have to do what keeps us happy and healthy. I can’t imagine wanting to continue in a class where I’m shouted at - other than in an entirely coaching way - you know, the intense correction you get in the middle of a turn, when the teacher shouts “Up, up!” using his/ her voice to urge you on. Or “Shoulders down!” which is what I usually get!

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Honestly it doesn’t seem that sticky to me.  You are the studio’s customer, and are buying a service from them.  You liked the service, but with the changes, now you don’t.  There’s nothing wrong with quitting a class that isn’t worth your time and money, especially as an adult! If the class doesn’t work out, I’d leave but let the studio know why—you can certainly be diplomatic and say that this teacher just isn’t a good fit.

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As someone who occasionally takes classes taught by peers and teachers I don't think are qualfied I understand your pain. It's not fair that you should pay money to take a class that you won't benefit from, nor that a class with a really really knowledgeable teacher costs the same as a class from a not-so-knowledgeable one. 

I would think you could bring up your concern to the studio director or the usual teacher. Maybe try the class for the first two weeks to give the new teacher a chance, but if the class isn't worth your time/money you could bring it up to the director. If you are worried about the style or not getting corrections 'as adult dancers' then at the very least this sort of conversation might inspire the studio director and the usual teacher to talk to the new teacher to give her pointers on how to improve. It could also convince them to let the usual teacher teach the class, if you two adults make up a significant portion of the class perhaps they will see the value in making sure you feel confident in your dance teacher.

I am not even sure what 'getting to know the syllabus' could possibly mean in this context, but surely you should not need to teach a class to become 'familiar' with the syllabus. I don't see why the new teacher cannot improve her teaching skills with lower grades at first, until she is ready to teach the higher grades. I only mention this because it sounds like you are concern by the business aspect of making sure new teachers are coming up the ranks for the interest of the long term plan of the studio, but I see no reason why this new teacher has to teach intermediate, especially if she is not ready or qualified. 


Anyways I hope it get sorted out :).

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  • 2 months later...

Unfortunately this new instructor's real skills at teaching will hang on how well her students do in the exams. So, if you don't mind waiting a year, then fine! As some have said, I would address your concerns to the current instructor and the owner.

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  • 1 month later...

I think it is fair to say that you paid the higher price because you loved that teacher and you can't justify it for anyone else.  In that case though you would have to quit before trying the new person.  Can you talk to the teacher herself?  I know what it is like to sign up for something because you know the teacher is great and then have them replaced.  It never works well.


Just seen the date.  What did you do?


Edited by Penguin69
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  • 2 months later...


Initially, I did have a private with her, and she actually asked outright how we were finding it, and I was honest - the other teacher is perfectly good, but I came to that school for her expertise. She said she was very flattered, and totally understood. So, she has been present and kind of tandem teaching a fair amount, and I've had some privates on my own, and with the second adult in the class. These have been really good, and she's  been really happy with how I'm improving. And I haven't grown out of being a teacher pleaser, so the external validation  has been lovely!

It's been going ok. I've been  getting most out of the privates in terms of corrections, and working on applying them in the classes. So far, so good., if not ideal.

But today it got really complicated......

My teacher's partner has been unwell for a few weeks, and reading between the lines with my medical brain and what she's told me, I have somewhat been expecting the message she sent me today. He is really very unwell, (I fear terminally so, although she hasn't said as much yet.) I feel I am acting like Posy Fossil ( please tell me someone gets that reference!), or at the very least a monumental arse at this point by even thinking about how this impacts me, but I can't  deny its occured to  me. I don't feel I can confidently look at taking the exam with teacher 2 - she doesn't have the experience  and we have several new students in the class, so are learning things from scratch again. Which is never not useful, but not really what I need to be doing at the moment.

I sincerely hope, for my teacher and her family's sake that the news is not as bad as it seems to be - nothing makes me happier professionally  in such situations than to be wrong -  but experience unfortunately  suggests otherwise..... I guess we will all have to wait and see, and just offer any support I can. 

Life really sucks sometimes..........

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:offtopic: Parents, please note this is a restricted forum for Adult Ballet Students. If you are not of that demographic, you may read, but not post. 

As such, several posts straying off-topic have been removed. 

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I did read some of the replies - apologies DanceMaven! - 

And I would agree that obviously saying anything would be totally inappropropriate.  What I've actually said is"don't worry about it for a single second and let me know if there is anything I can do to help!"

I had a discussion with my fellow adult student this evening - we are going to see what happens over the next few weeks.  If our teacher is going to be off long time (which I fear she may be), we will come up with some contingency plans...

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  • 6 months later...

I suppose it’s been a while since this thread Doormouse. How did everything turn out? Did you end up taking the exam? Is your dance teachers partner okay? I hope everything turned out alright in the end.

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In March my RAD classes had to be suspended due to the pandemic.  Our June exam was postponed to August.  Perhaps the OP faced a similar hiatus(?) from the studio.  Hopefully the pandemic didnt complicate the health issues.

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  • 7 months later...

I did - now looking at taking the exam in a few weeks time, and fighting the impulse to completely freak out!

Sadly my teachers spouse did die, so in fact, a complete hiatus for 6 months during our first lockdown, was probably something of a blessing.  Fortunately, I don't think the pandemic made any difference medically - but obviously I don't know, and it's none of my business. They were treated by someone I know professionally, and who is very good, so I hope were well cared for.

She's having more input in class, although it is still being taught by teacher 2.  If (and it is IF) I pass intermediate this time around, I'm going to have to think quite carefully about advanced foundation, which is also being taught by teacher 2. She is really improving, and I respect that - although nothing like the expertise of teacher 1. Advanced Foundation may always be out of my reach anyway, because the jump with the pointe work is huge.  But I think I've improved a lot doing intermediate, so I think I'd like to learn the syllabus anyway, even if I can't ever take the exam, and I'm considering maybe looking at grade 7 or grade 8.  The other possibility is doing the "discovering repetoire"  - which is now being taught by someone I know, who is a fabulous teacher. 

I'm very lucky to have many great teachers and dance friends in my life - one could reasonably argue that I am spoilt for choice!!


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