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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Class size


driver of a dancer

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Forgive me if this is posted somewhere else but I did a quick search and did not see this so here goes.....

What is a "good size for a class?

I am talking girls and guys age 13-16 inter/adv levels. Our school has had a large group promoted and now there are 32 in the class today:mad:

There was observation and I could read the frustration on my daughters face as well as others.

She reported she was unable to even feel comfortable at the barre, Center was crowded and they did not even get to do combinations even with the class running 15 minutes late.

There also seems to be a huge difference in abilities, my observation being only remember driver of a dancer

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I'm going to take this and move it from Special Groups general heading to Moms and Dads, as class size is a valid parents' concern.

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I'm inclined to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, as this class you observed must be taking place rather early in the new school year. Thirty-two is not an unmanageable group, but not getting to center practice is not good class management, either. I wonder how large the studio is? There will doubtless be some shifting and rearranging in schedules to benefit both students and teachers, but if this sort of situation continues, you are justified in bringing your concern to the teacher(s) of the school and its administration.

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I am not a complaining type person and usually have the idea that everything happens for a reason and go with the flow.

I think it will be reasonable to wait and see for two weeks worth of class which will be 8 classes and keep some sort of record of what does and does not happen. The training is excellent and I think up until this time when the classes were of reasonable sizes that is why it was good training. I do plan not to talk in the corners of the studio and complain and gossip, I will go to the directors. After all I am paying for this training. Thank you in advance and thanks for listening,,,, now take another deep breath:eek:

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OK - you've added one more question to my list. You say that up until now, class size has been reasonable. I'd be curious to know what size the classes were?

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  • Administrators

On the advanced level, in a very good sized studio, I am comfortable with 25. I find too much more than that somewhat difficult, although 26 or 27 is not too bad. On the Intermediate level I would prefer it to be no more than 20. Recognizing that there will always be some students out for various reasons, if the actual enrollment is a bit more than that it's usually not a big problem.

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Guest Watermill

It almost comes down to constraints of time (of both class length & music) and physical space (of both studio and dancer size) PLUS the abilities of the instructor to manage all four of these variables to serve class objectives.

 

If you have a class of 20, not only is there ample room at the barre and a generous 7-6-7 line formation, but the grand allegros (or whatever) across the diagonal can be accomplished in 5 groups of 4. And corrections can be very individualized.

 

However: in a class of 32, the barre is a nightmare, you need 4 lines of 8 out on the floor, and the diagonal passes take eight repetitions of groups of 4 (That's 16 repetitions to give everyone two attempts!)

 

I leave it to the teachers amongst us to comment on the difference in quality of corrections between these two classes.

 

I think that the two most important factors in a good school are:

1. Quality of faculty

2. Class size

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The class size does sound a bit large to me. It really would help to know how large the studio is!

 

Not getting to complete all of the class, for me is not such a big faux pas in the beginning of the year. The teacher may be searching to see just where the students are! Throwing steps and combinations out there is an interesting way to see what they can do but not necessarily what they know, but sometimes refinement takes more time than anticipated if you have a new group of students. As long as the classes are completed a few times a week in the beginning of the year, it really is okay. Not the end of the world. Be patient! Let a few weeks go by. If it does not begin to pick up...go to the teacher with your concerns. Give this person the ability to address the issue before you go to the director. If the teacher is a smart employee, then it would be taken care of through teacher/director communication rather than parent/director which to me is a more respectful way of solving issues a parent may have in the classroom.

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We have this happen in Irish dance at the beginning of the year too. We always tell the parents that the class might be big at first but that we'll be moving dancers to other classes so please bear with us.

 

I think parents have to be patient at the beginning of the year. Teachers need to do some sorting out of the students and that takes time.

 

My daughter's school has grown tremendously since she first began studying ballet there. There've been a year here and there where the classes were larger (the "growing pains" years for the school) than I'd have liked. But the staff recognized that too and made accomodations for the size. Some students "linked" to other classes a level above them at least twice a week. Repertoire classes were much smaller. It all worked out but it didn't happen right away in the fall. I'm guessing the teacher needed to see what would or would not be workable and then develop a plan to get it to work.

 

It helped that most of us parents knew the "vision" the artistic director had for the school and that she was actively working to make it happen.

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I would also add, that in addition to the size to the studio, how often this class meets with the same teacher is another factor to consider. A teacher who sees this group 4-5 times a week will teach this class differently than seeing it only once or twice. Also, the school may be expecting a rate of attrition that will make the class smaller.

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Lots of great thoughtful questions from you all.

Here is what I can add. Without sending my husband down into the studio tomorrow with his measuring tape "we all think" the studio is 20x40 give or take.

The barre goes around the sides in a U shape. Two portable barres were used also. My daughter moved herself onto the end after the barre began when she saw that the air currents of her movements were not going to make the person in front of her move.

With the exception of 3 new people the teacher has had all of these students in classes over the summer so abilities were known.

Usual class size in the past in this level has been 15-20. During the summer there had been 28.

The teacher who taught this class is very organized I plan to have the wait and see approach as this person is not new, and will see if the issue is addressed. Yes it is early in the ballet year.

The teachers are the owners of the studio. They do see these students 4-5 times a week. In years past there is another teacher who will probably teach one of the days weekly.

Line formations instead of being the usual 4-4etc were 7-8...... and such crowding to the rear it looked like Macy's after Christmas.:eek:

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And what do the school directors do if they have too many students who want to take their classes? Just wondering how that one is dealt with - I imagine there are a number of different ways but if space is at a premium, then what?

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Well that's the problem, is that with 15 students and no other help than the tuition to pay the bills, you are "forced" to have bigger classes, but my ideal would be 15, what i do when it gets out of hand? then I create another class.

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