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Ruthless is OK?


annaliesey
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Just read this article about a Ryan Jenkins

 

http://cyprus-mail.com/2015/02/04/life-on-a-roller-coaster/

 

Usually I enjoy reading inspirational articles but this one has saddened me as there is a section that refers to a teacher balancing a cup of coffee in his leg and he is quoted as saying he was scarred of her.

 

Someone else has commented on his facebook that the same teacher threw a chair at them but they loved them and wouldn't have had the career they had without them.

 

I'm just really struggling with how acceptable these messages are to kids and people who teach kids by someone who is such a role model. It comes across to me that people need to earn their stripes by putting up and even being grateful for abuse in the dance industry that goes hand in hand with good training?

 

Really? Am I being namby-pamby about this? I thought that child protection policies were a genuine consideration. But maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's just lip service and the reality is that youngsters are expected to put up with this.

 

No wonder there are teachers out there who think their dubious and harsh methods are acceptable

 

:(

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I agree that's not acceptable and I think it is sad he thinks it's ok. The article is presented in quite a 'lovey' way and maybe this type of behaviour fits that mould?

 

I don't know him at all - I'm not sure how old he is? Maybe younger dancers less likely to find it acceptable?

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  • 1 month later...

Throwing a chair really...  :o Then again that comes close to something that is physically abusive and could potentially cause pain/damage which I have heard is done in a specific school in a specific country

 

I hope throwing a chair was not directly at them, either way a student could get hurt

 

But I do realise many ballet teachers STILL are abusive, even physically in some countries

 

I think a great ballet teacher is someone who demands as much as the dancers can give but does so humanely, perhaps sometimes quiet and sometimes more of a strict voice depending on which is necessary at the time, that is also supportive of the dancer and motivates the dancer, is strict but respects dancers as a human being, if for example there is a sign of an injury not requiring the dancer to dance through it or pull it through without taking care (which is just wrong) but telling the dancers to seek medical advice, understand if the dancer has to take care of their injury (but then again for certain reasons many dancers do not do this)

 

Some teachers are considered one of ballet's 'greatest teachers' yet have been shown to be abusive... for example Lyudmila Zakharova

 

There are 'many ways to Rome' (is this an actual quote/idiom, or is there are similar saying or not?), yes sometimes you have to be firm or strict, but it is possible to teach ballet professionally while still being humane, and it is possible to 'cross the line'

 

As someone said on another forum, 'strict is fine, firm is fine, but cruel is never acceptable'

 

Here is a list of what someone thinks makes a great dance teacher; of course, I think there are many more characteristics

 

http://www.danceadvantage.net/great-dance-teachers/

 

Ruthless is not OK, I think personally I would find many things bordering on 'crossing the line' acceptable, but while ruthless is not OK ballet students are traditionally told to keep silent; this is part of the reason for continuing abuse

 

And also, dance students often see anything related to 'correcting' or 'improving' students, whether their classmates or themselves a sign that teachers see potential in them, which may (or may not) be true, but they often don't see this as a problem no matter the content, context, how it was said, how humiliating it was etc

 

The problem is students may consider downright abusive teaching to be 'for their benefit' and not realise it is abusive, and if they do they may not speak out

 

Hopefully now dancers/students are more willing to recognise and speak out against a problem, but I'm not sure whether this is the reality

 

Edited to add link

 

Edited to fix post

Edited by DancingtoDance
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I'm not acquainted with Ludmilla Zakharova - can anyone enlighten me? Is she someone who has been found guilty of abuse?

 

Sadly she passed away some time ago

 

She was the founder of Perm Ballet School and has been featured in several documentaries, including 'Captives of Terpsichore' (featured in the 1990s, and after the films many of her students accused her of abuse) a documentary which could be found on YouTube (the description says it shows the last and final exam of Zakharova's graduating class - I think this is a different documentary) and 'A Beautiful Tragedy'

 

In 'Captives of Terpischore' and 'A Beautiful Tragedy' she has been shown slapping students, pushing a student away and belittling and demeaning students

 

Then again I think she congratulated students after the exam/performance (I'm not sure which, or both?)

 

I haven't really watched the whole of the documentaries or know that much either

Edited by DancingtoDance
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I think even in some of the most famous, perhaps unsuspicious schools specific teachers have said shocking things/suggested doing scary things, and students may not inform parents for fear of being taken out of the school

 

Really abuse or mistreatment (whether legally or not) of whatever kind can happen anywhere to anyone of any background

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My best childhood friend was her pupil in the Upper school. And, however L.Sakharova was really strict in the studio, outside she was like a God mother to her students! She really cared and loved the girls as her own children! It was always a privilege to get picked up by her into her class for upper school years from lower schol, and students and parents were aware of it, and still prised and worshipped her. She was famous to craft a ballet stars, most of her students are principals around the world and her name is critically acclaimed in the ballet circles. Sometimes her graduates didn't even needed an auditions for the companies as the name of the teacher (and also she was a director of Perm Ballet School for many years) says it all! My friend, straight after graduation had several contracts worldwide as a soloist to start with.

Sakharova was a grand master in her craft, polishing her 'diamonds' to sparkle for 200%. How more she was critical and angry to particular girls, how more those girls were loved and cared by her... The ones, who didn't received a lot of 'anger' were the less able ones (but this know only insiders).

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I find in both dance moms programmes the children are verbally abused but many people watch these programmes making them acceptable

We were watching one open-mouthed last night. A young dancer was being berated for being a lazy slacker because she was lying in pain with a back injury on the dressing room floor and didn't feel able to go on stage and compete.

 

Its all very well knowing that much of it is staged for the cameras, but what a thing to say - how will that influence young viewers? Will they push on and dance through their own injuries? Will they think that being shouted at and emotionally manipulated is all par for the course and something they have to put up with in order to succeed?

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Its all very well knowing that much of it is staged for the cameras, but what a thing to say - how will that influence young viewers?

That's the problem!

 

It's how it influences young dance teachers and students :(

 

I think the tv company have a lot to answer for in their portrayal that this is the norm. It just encourages some people to behave how Abby Lee Miller is portrayed. But, after reading her book and dd attending a Masterclasses, I don't believe she's as bad as she is made out to be. Certainly in her book etc she is very against dancing through injuries.

 

But the problem is the young, inexperienced, not-danced-professionally, unqualified/lowly qualified teachers who think this tv way is the way to success!

 

Some Mums and kids are so accepting of abusive behaviour, it's staggering.

 

Look at the case of RG Dance Grant Davies in Australia. Not only has he been done for several counts of sexual abuse but now the story goes that mums were sending him nude pics of daughters

 

Here's a link http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3481433/Bizarre-Dance-Moms-video-Rebecca-Davies-prepares-testify-royal-commission-knew-paedophile-brother-Grant-s-sexual-abuse-students.html

 

What is wrong with people? What kind of mum would ever think this stuff is ok?

Edited by annaliesey
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Annaliesey, I read the whole inquiry doc into Davies and also the music teacher. After the music teacher was suspended due to accusations of abuse, parents took their kids out of the performing arts school so he could continue to teach them privately! It honestly seems as if some parents will actually do anything if they think it guarantees fame/success for their kids. The mothers who sent videos/nude pics were being prosecuted too, I think.

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Annaliesey, I read the whole inquiry doc into Davies and also the music teacher. After the music teacher was suspended due to accusations of abuse, parents took their kids out of the performing arts school so he could continue to teach them privately! It honestly seems as if some parents will actually do anything if they think it guarantees fame/success for their kids. The mothers who sent videos/nude pics were being prosecuted too, I think.

 

It's heartbreaking. I too read the whole enquiry as a colleague in Australia posted the link on her Facebook page. The detail regarding what went on at the studio was incredibly disturbing (and I'm not a parent; I can imagine any parents reading would feel physically sick). What is also disturbing is the number of people who suspected something was amiss several years ago and either swept it under the carpet, or dismissed it as 'dance studio back-biting and rumour spreading'. If there's any justice for those children who were affected, anyone who covered it up back then should also be charged (including the police who could've intervened much earlier). 

 

I also worry about some teachers who are so competitive and so ambitious for their students that they are to all intents and purposes physically abusing them with potentially dangerous intense training, with little regard for what a child's body can handle.

 

It is scary how people get swept along, and accept behaviour in a dance studio/competition, that anywhere else would be physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

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I'm not acquainted with Ludmilla Zakharova - can anyone enlighten me? Is she someone who has been found guilty of abuse?

 

Monica Loughman was in her class when she moved to Russia to train, and she found her so abusive that she asked to change classes, which was pretty much unheard of at the time. She goes into some detail in her book Ballerina, which is available at Amazon.co.uk for £2.59 (Kindle edition).

 

I remember seeing one documentary, though, where she'd been really tough on her students during the classes (standardly reducing students to tears), but was hanging out with them and laughing and dancing with them after their exams, and they seemed to love her. So who knows...

Edited by Melody
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Many years ago in work I was bullied by my line manager.  At the time I didn't realise I was being bullied as I just thought it was the way line managers behaved.  Therefore, I joined in team social activities.  It was only many years later when training seminars about bullying were introduced that I was able to realise what had been happening.

 

Just because her students seemed to love L Zakharova does not mean to say that her behaviour in the class room was acceptable.

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That's the thing though Janet isn't it? If that's how you felt as a young adult, imagine how vulnerable young children are.

 

They go to dance because they love it, they hang on their teachers every word, they want so much to please them because of their passion for dance and because they want to improve.

 

In some ways this "only because I love you" slant is just the worst ever. What happens if an abusive partner comes into their lives? I have worried so much about the parenting messages alongside tough teaching messages :(

 

And I feel that parents are so easily influenced too where there is a prize or reward apparently being dangled.

 

Referring to the thread I posted about 'teacher smacking' I did tell a couple of parents that their children had been smacked but they couldn't have cared less!

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You're so right - so many people (regardless of dance world or non-dance world) hide try to 'explain' abuse by saying "it's all because I love you" or "it's for your own benefit" or "it's how I get the best out of you" etc etc etc. It is worryingly true that dependent personalities are the ones most likely to end up in abusive, adult relationships. If a pupil-teacher relationship ever shows signs of being dependent (ie the student being desperate to please the teacher) that could spell disaster later in life. Some teachers can spot it and manage it effectively but if a teacher capitalises on it (as some clearly do, whether they know it or not) then it's up to the parent to realise. Sadly some parents are also blinkered and dare I say it, just as dependent on that teacher, and the abusive relationship not only continues, but is encouraged. 

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I also worry about some teachers who are so competitive and so ambitious for their students that they are to all intents and purposes physically abusing them with potentially dangerous intense training, with little regard for what a child's body can handle.

 

It is scary how people get swept along, and accept behaviour in a dance studio/competition, that anywhere else would be physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

 

 

You are right Dr Dance.

 

I am surprised by what I see on the instagram and Facebook pages of some dance schools in this country with young girls being pulled into what looks to me like dangerous oversplits with their legs bent back behind them by other children (surely that isn't safe??). Or girls who are under ten doing 'needles' 'scorpions' etc. I really do worry about what is being done to their young bodies. But these sorts of schools have slogans like No Pain no Gain, and there looks to be an attitude that if you don't force your body into these extreme stretches you are not up there in the pecking order.

 

I would like to know are these sorts of things ok in your opinion as I am not an expert?

No school my dd has danced at has encouraged this sort of thing.

 

Although some of the girls from these schools are very strong and flexible as a result of this intense training and stretching and interesting to see when we have been at finals for lower schools this year that they have got places, so it would seem that schools are looking for this level of extreme flexibility - I find it very confusing.  

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You are right Dr Dance.

 

I am surprised by what I see on the instagram and Facebook pages of some dance schools in this country with young girls being pulled into what looks to me like dangerous oversplits with their legs bent back behind them by other children (surely that isn't safe??). Or girls who are under ten doing 'needles' 'scorpions' etc. I really do worry about what is being done to their young bodies. But these sorts of schools have slogans like No Pain no Gain, and there looks to be an attitude that if you don't force your body into these extreme stretches you are not up there in the pecking order.

 

I would like to know are these sorts of things ok in your opinion as I am not an expert?

No school my dd has danced at has encouraged this sort of thing.

 

Although some of the girls from these schools are very strong and flexible as a result of this intense training and stretching and interesting to see when we have been at finals for lower schools this year that they have got places, so it would seem that schools are looking for this level of extreme flexibility - I find it very confusing.  

 

In my opinion these things are not ok. And not just my opinion either - there is starting to be a backlash regarding all these 'tricks'. The 'scorpion' movement particularly worries me - young hips and spines are so vulnerable. It's interesting that parents now are aware that starting pointe work before the age of 10 can be dangerous, but they don't think twice about all this overstretching. It is extremely irresponsible to be promoting the idea of "No Pain, No Gain" with young dancers - in my world that is tantamount to condoning abuse, telling young, impressionable people that if what they're doing it doesn't hurt, it won't do them any good, and that pushing their bodies into pain is not only ok, but something to celebrate! It makes me very angry.

 

As for girls from these schools getting places at vocational schools, my first thought is good for them - they will find out what safe training is, and hopefully any damage that they've done might be reversed by being in a safer training environment. Maybe schools are looking for this, but then again, we also know of all of the vocational schools taking students without this level of flexibility so it's clearly not a deal breaker!

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In my opinion these things are not ok. And not just my opinion either - there is starting to be a backlash regarding all these 'tricks'. The 'scorpion' movement particularly worries me - young hips and spines are so vulnerable. It's interesting that parents now are aware that starting pointe work before the age of 10 can be dangerous, but they don't think twice about all this overstretching. It is extremely irresponsible to be promoting the idea of "No Pain, No Gain" with young dancers - in my world that is tantamount to condoning abuse, telling young, impressionable people that if what they're doing it doesn't hurt, it won't do them any good, and that pushing their bodies into pain is not only ok, but something to celebrate! It makes me very angry.

 

As for girls from these schools getting places at vocational schools, my first thought is good for them - they will find out what safe training is, and hopefully any damage that they've done might be reversed by being in a safer training environment. Maybe schools are looking for this, but then again, we also know of all of the vocational schools taking students without this level of flexibility so it's clearly not a deal breaker!

Unfortunately a lot of stuff about online only refers to it being dangerous if it's not taught properly. Most parents I suspect think that if it's done with a dance teacher then it is being done properly, and maybe it is in the majority of cases, I don't know.

 

But from my own experiences, it only takes a little bit of over training to start causing a few problems. I'm not saying that it's all the fault of the teachers, but when you have kids that are desperate to please, then they go home and start doing things incorrectly in their bedroom!

 

My dd was doing box splits with her knees slightly inverted and she's hyper mobile so that was a mistake! And scorpions, leg tilts etc and we've had conversations on threads about this before :) but when they are under pressure through wanting to please or so desperate to improve, it takes a very strong willed person (or mum) to spot this and stop it.

 

I do hate the no-pain-no-gain thing but I think this gets used a lot. Sometimes it's dancing on pointe and other times it gets used for the whole stretching/trick thing too :(

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Many years ago in work I was bullied by my line manager.  At the time I didn't realise I was being bullied as I just thought it was the way line managers behaved.  Therefore, I joined in team social activities.  It was only many years later when training seminars about bullying were introduced that I was able to realise what had been happening.

 

Just because her students seemed to love L Zakharova does not mean to say that her behaviour in the class room was acceptable.

I absolutely agree Janet. When I was a student and later a junior member of my profession, bullying was widely accepted and ritual humiliation seen as the standard educational method. I remember feeling physically sick in tutorials with a particular professor as I knew that at some point he would pick one someone to humiliate in front of the rest of the class. The excuse was that it was "character building" and that we had to learn to be "strong" if we were to succeed.

Fortunately, though there are still pockets of this kind of thing, most people seem to now recognise that this is not the right way to get the best out of bright young people and that fear doesn't foster learning. I find it terribly depressing to hear about this type of thing still going on in the dance world, and even more so when some parents seem to collude with it. I knew absolutely nothing about dance when DD started, but I do know that I would never have left her with a teacher who upset her or whom she feared, no matter how good their "results" were - the ends never justify those kind of means in my eyes.

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