When is it time to change dance schools?
Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:08 AM
We are having a bit of a dilemma at the moment, and aren't sure whether a new approach from a different teacher would be a good thing or not.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:24 AM
The interim years between exams were spent learning material for a big show. The costume hire was really pricey, you had to attend extra classes approaching the show (at extra cost) and the dress rehearsals used to go on until ridiculously late. The year she was 5, the dress rehearsal ran until 10.45pm on a schoolnight!
Then because they used to learn all the syllabus work in two terms, they used to demand extra classes coming up to the exams, on the basis that "you all need such a lot of work, none of you are good enough". The extra classes were pricey too.
After almost 4 years of this we had had enough, so spoke to the Director of dd's current school. We took her along for a trial class and she loved it. 2 terms later she got a Distinction in her Grade 1 exam and was a very happy little girl indeed. She's still there 6 years later and it was her current teacher who suggested she try for Associates, and now works around Associates to ensure that dd gets the same amount of training.
I was honest with the first school, paid them a term's notice, and explained exactly why I was moving dd.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:02 AM
I too have questioned My DD's allegiance to her dancing school. Her ballet teachers are fantastic and I have no complaints however the modern and tap teachers are not the best. As ballet is her focus we decided to continue and resign ourselves to the less than perfect tap and modern.
Some people have left for this reason but ballet is not their main interest. Not every school suits every dancer I suppose. Could you have a trial lesson elsewhere to see what your DD thinks?
I think as Spanner and Pony says if you do leave as long as you give the correct notice and explain why ,then follow your instincts.
Good luck in your decision
Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:17 AM
The trouble is, she's been at the same school for ages, has lots of friends, loves it there and is making progress. She does get frustrated, though as her teacher isn't one for 'positive' praise and encouragement; and she isn't a hands-on teacher, which I'm beginning to think is becoming more important especially in the major grades.
Also, the other schools are a lot further away, and considerably more expensive.
What to do?!
Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:39 AM
The ballet teacher and I have had some long conversations about dd which resulted in the teacher being completely hands on, which has made an unbelievable difference to their relationship and they now understand each other completely. Dd knows which "bits" the teacher means, and teacher knows now that dd really couldn't feel which bits to do what with.
Sometimes teachers might be frightened to be hands on, in case a parent complains. Have you asked your dd's teacher to be more hands on, and actually said "you have my permission to be hands-on"?
Personally I can't see how you can teach ballet without touching, but in this day and age you can see why teachers may be reticent about doing so. :-(
Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:44 AM
Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:58 AM
It was not an easy decision to make as she was one of her first pupils when the school opened and her teacher is more like a family friend. However, whilst the school has grown and gone from strength to strength there are very few teenagers who dance there and certainly none who wish to pursue dance as a career. This made my DD a "big fish in a little pond" which was not helpful.
Once she started on her contemporary CAT last year I think she then found the school and the teaching limiting and became bored and disinterested in her other lessons.
She has started ballet at another school now and is absolutely loving it again. It is a much larger school with a fantastic reputation and it has some exceptional dancers (who are her age). Her new teacher has been wonderful with her as she has had to switch to RAD syllabus.
Her old dance school was at the bottom of our road, I now have another 2 hour round trip a week, increasing in the autumn. The lessons are more expensive and I spend a fortune in Tescos whilst I am waiting but has it been worth it......absolutely, just to see her enthusiasm and love of dance return.
It wasn't an easy move and we did not take the decision lightly but in the end I had to put her needs before our loyalty to her old teacher who I'm happy to say has been massively supportive of it.:-)
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Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:00 AM
We've investigated several options and had trial lessons, but there are con's as well as pro's, and weighing it all up is so frustrating.
DD needs to be happy with her decision, and I would like her to have the best teacher we can afford, and who is the 'right' teacher for her.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:20 AM
Good luck with your decision.
- Anna C likes this
Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:23 AM
Do any of the potential new schools have any summer activities that your daughter could attend?
We're already fully booked with a summer school and EYB so we can't do that, it's a good idea, though.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 11:57 AM
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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:12 PM
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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:22 PM
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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:24 PM
My advice is really make sure your dd is happy with moving schools and its not just your decision and she's going along with it.
I couldn't agree more - it's definitely dd who is wanting to move, she instigated the whole thing.
She keeps asking us what she should do, and of course we just say that we will support her in whatever decision she makes. The thing is, it's a big ask for someone who is only just 13 to take a decision that she thinks could affect her whole future.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:50 PM
If one has the same teacher or even the same set of teachers at the same school it becomes too comfortable. After a while the student might not really "hear" the teacher and the teacher might not really "see" the student.
I discovered this quite by accident when in my student days my beloved teacher was out ill for a while. I had studied with her for three years. When a substitute came in, suddenly it was a new voice - a new thought pattern - new eyes looking at me, new solutions to problem areas. It really made a difference for me and after that I made sure that I never took class from only one teacher and I went to different schools - often at the same time.
Even in syllabus work i think this is true - never get too comfortable. A good teacher - a good school - will not try to constrain the student from exploring other paths. If they do try to constrain the student this, to me, is a sign of problems. A lack of confidence in their work.
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Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:50 PM
Posted 30 May 2012 - 02:51 PM
Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:39 PM
DD is on an associate programme, and also goes to whatever workshops and dance days we can get to, so she is used to being taught by new people.
She often comes home from them saying that someone has picked up on something she is doing (or not doing), or explained a movement in a different way, so that suddenly she understands something and 'the penny drops'.
My dd can't help thinking that she needs someone with fresh eyes to help her make the most of herself.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:16 PM
Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:46 PM
But.....she has now had the experience of being taught by some phenomenal teachers at summer schools and workshops etc., and she's old enough (just) to realise that this is what she now needs all the time.
Posted 30 May 2012 - 09:29 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:01 AM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:05 AM
Taxi, is your DD being too self-critical? When she goes to her associates classes, the workshops etc are other children not receiving a lot of corrections as well? Or is it more a question of the teachers at these other places communicating better what she needs to do to improve?
Yes, she is a self-doubter, which isn't helped by her present teacher, who isn't one for positive praise and motivation...
Of course, all the other children at workshops etc receive corrections too, but dd is now old enough to notice that the ones she receives really seem to help her, and are generally not corrections that she has ever had from her current teacher.
You are right - what we need to find is someone who can 'connect' with her, and communicate things in a way she really understands and can respond to.
Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:26 PM
Taxi, It's a harsh fact but there really does seem to be very little praise in ballet classes generally. Many years ago my daughter came out of her local ballet class quite upset saying that the teacher was 'picking on her'. On further questioning it turned out she had been given a lot of corrections compared to the others. I explained to her that it was because the teacher knew how serious she was about her dancing whereas the others were just dancing for fun and the teacher was doing it because she wanted to help her. I explained that being given corrections should be viewed as a positive thing - better than just being ignored! Once she started associate classes I always used to ask her if she was given many corrections that day and she learnt to view these as positive comments.
...... her present teacher, who isn't one for positive praise and motivation...
- Anna C likes this
Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:52 PM
Praise doesn't have to be complicated - just a smile and the word "Yes!" when something is well done.
I've had ballet teachers who in all the time I knew them never smiled. And, some who thought that praise was counter-productive.
One of my happiest moments was when I overheard one of my young students say to a new student: "We work hard but we have fun."
Nothing wrong with some laughter and a smile and some well earned praise. No one is diminished by that.
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Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:01 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:05 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:43 PM
I remember a rather fierce teacher who regularly gave a diabolical turn enchainement. It never felt smooth and I always felt very unsatisfied with it. We all struggled. Then one day a man in class - in utter frustration - asked the teacher if anyone ever got this right? The teacher (to my utter shock) pointed to me and said "she does."
Well, gosh - that's the first I knew I was getting somewhere with it. It was nice to know! It was also instructive to know I was on the right path. It was encouraging. But had the other dancer not asked - I would never have known.
Many times the student has to learn by feeling where things should be and how else is the student to know when the feeling is correct except by being told?
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Posted 31 May 2012 - 05:41 PM
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Posted 31 May 2012 - 06:12 PM
Honestly changing dance schools hasn't affected our view on any of the people we have met and we don't regret going there because it was what we wanted at the time. People's opinions, dreams and aspirations change and if you want to change dance schools don't be afraid to do so because often you can judge it for yourself. Normally the teacher knows themselves if you need to move on or you want to move on and that isn't a bad thing we've left on good terms with all of them and if we ever wanted to return they would probably have us back with open arms. On the corrections thing- I think praise is neccesary as is corrections but if you want to be productive and get somewhere you need the corrections more so than the praise. The praise comes when everything has been corrected.
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