Jump to content

Technique - Can it always improve?


Recommended Posts

Hi, I'm looking for advice about my daughter (age 12.5) and how to help get her technique on track. She started (very) informal dance classes at age 7, the standard (looking back) was not very good at all it was more like fitness classes (the tap was okay as the teacher for that was actually ISTD qualified). We moved to a new dance school a couple of months before her 9th birthday, she started doing every class possible ballet, tap, modern, contemporary, lyrical, drama, hip hop,jazz.... everything she was allowed to, she couldn't get enough. She was in RAD grade 1 ballet, ISTD grade 1 tap, ISTD grade 3 modern, ISTD bronze jazz, she did her ballet & tap exams (Summer 2015) and at the end of the following term I found out her teacher had been smacking her (and also grooming, emotional abuse), so we moved.

 

When we moved (Jan 2016) she was due to do her grade 3 modern, bronze jazz, grade 2 tap and grade 2 ballet exams. New teacher was shocked by how little grade 2 ballet she knew considering she was meant to be doing her exam with the old school (and also shocked that at age 10.5 she was only just in grade 2 when her grade 2's were aged 7/8). So DD ended up skipping grade 2 and went straight into a grade 3 class, she was also allowed to do grade 4 (to try and help her improve) she also started doing intermediate foundation, grade 4 modern, continued with grade 2 tap and some other non syllabus classes (contemporary, hip hop etc) she was doing the grade above and at least 2 classes of her actual grade (she's a hard worker). By the end of 2016 she was grade 4 ballet, grade 5 modern, grade 3 tap gaining Merit's in her exams (just shy of distinction in tap/modern).


By summer 2017 she had done grade 4 ballet (Merit), silver jazz (distinction) grade 3 tap (distinction) and seemed on track to sorting out all the technique issues she had from the poor training for the first few years at the other schools. Then her last 2 exams grade 5 modern & grade 5 ballet (done last term) her technique marks have been shocking, her knowledge of syllabus has been high, same with musicality, performance etc but technique has taken a nose dive. She's not doing anything different, I know the higher the grades the harder they are but for her technique marks to go from 7's, 8's and in some cases 9's to 4's and 5's I'm starting to question whether her teacher is pushing her through her grades too quickly based on her knowing the syllabus really well. She is very very good at picking things up, to the point she's remembered some things better then the teacher has (and when the teacher has checked the RAD app/videos/books DD has been right) and I'm now worried the teacher just has her ear marked as scraping through on knowledge of syllabus rather then her technique being of an appropriate standard for the grade.

 

There's also the mental health side of it, DD has been told so many times by so many different teachers that she is no good. From that very first dance school at age 7 she wasn't 'good' because she wasn't an amazing singer (something the principal there valued more then anything as that was her personal strength). Then at the next school from just before her 9th birthday until 10.5 not only was she told ballet wasn't her thing (and so she would claim she hated ballet anyway), that she was rubbish, not flexible enough but she was also smacked alongside it. This affected her tremendously to the point we were having regular meetings at her academic school as they couldn't get to the bottom of why she felt so worthless (she was seeing the school councillor and all she could get out of her was that she felt even worse after dance). Obviously when the emotional/physical abuse came to light it all made sense and when we changed dance schools she was like a different kid, back to her old fun loving happy self.

 

Now the new school, although the teacher doesn't intend to cause harm (I don't think) she has said so many things to my daughter in a blase way it's bringing up all the really negative things that have been drilled into her from a young age. For example she wanted to audition for associates, we filled in the form, took photos sent it all off to hopefully get an audition date. In the meantime the teacher is telling DD how they are looking for certain body types, one of the associates she wanted to audition for one of her dance friends already attended and the teacher said of course that child got in she has the right body type but that DD shouldn't get her hopes up because she wasn't really the right look. The teacher was very surprised when one of them (not naming who on here but a well known but very new associates at the time) came back and said she was borderline but they wanted her to come along to the first class to see how she got on. Well she never made it to that first class because she had convinced herself with the words of her current and former teachers that they didn't really want her, that she wasn't good enough and should forget ballet...and besides she "hates ballet" (despite that at the time she was doing about 7.5  hours ballet a week). Another associates also ran modern classes and after she attended the modern class, they said she was a good dancer but again DD let those negative thoughts creep in and we didn't send off the application for their ballet associates. She was back to stating she hated ballet, didn't want to do it and had no chance anyway because she was nothing like the other kids at the dance school who were already in associate schemes (at one point we had problems with her starving herself because of one of these kids making comments about her).

 

When an EYB audition local to us came about I told her teacher about it and that she wanted to audition, her teacher's reaction was basically that DD had no chance, they want a whole company of mini ballerina's and she doesn't fit the bill (so when she didn't get in it was a bit of an I told you so moment).  She's referred to DD's body shape saying that she has a "bit of a bum" not like "x child", she's told her she's lazy in tap, that her shoulders are no good (and suggested I get this vest contraption to pull her shoulders back more). When I've asked if we can have 2 or 3 privates a week to just work on her technique she wasn't interested (unless I wanted to pull her out of school on some days like some of her other students do). 

 

So not sure what to do, DD clearly enjoys ballet when she's doing it and now and again says it's her favourite class and she loves ballet, but more often then not if you ask her she will tense up and claim she hates it which I think is a defense strategy i.e "you're not designed for ballet...that's okay I don't like it anyway". The mental attitude is hard because even when she is successful she talks herself out of her achievements, for example a local small associates had auditions, she was offered a place (we couldn't accept as they changed the day at the last minute and it conflicted with a prior commitment) and she said they didn't have much choice considering how few went to the audition so it was probably just an automatic offer. Same with a satellite CAT scheme she's been offered a place on, she's concerned she's just making up the numbers/cost for them rather then genuinely gaining a place (all of which is not helped when her teacher is shocked that she receives these offers), I'm hoping the CAT will help but the focus is on contemporary (not like other CAT's with ballet being part of it too).

 

I know she needs to work on her technique but I don't know how to go about helping her with that, the teacher isn't interested in doing regular private lessons, she can only get to so many lessons on top of school/homework/timetable conflicts. Ballet associates is likely the answer but if her technique is so bad, she's going to struggle to get in anywhere and if she can't get in she can't improve and that's a bit of a never ending cycle. I'm just feeling a bit sorry for her really, she's worked so hard, given up so much to get to every class she could (at one point in ballet she was doing grade 4, grade 5, freework, 3 x inter foundation, 2 x intermediate) and it's not paying off. Maybe it's just her and the teacher is right that she's just not cut out for ballet (even recreationally) so that's as good as her technique is going to get. Thoughts? Advice? Really not sure where we go from here now, whether she can improve in the right environment or if some kids just get to a certain level and that's it for them I don't know. 

 

TL;DR - DD's technique has taken a nose dive and I think maybe she's been pushed through her grades too quickly (she has done RAD ballet grades 3, 4 & 5 in the space of a year) on the basis that her ability to pick up is very good so she knows the syllabus well and is cruising through on that strength. Advice on how to get her technique sorted (teacher isn't interested in doing private lessons), it's possibly that bad she won't have a chance with a ballet associates which is probably the very thing she needs (she's 12.5 years old), or with some kids is it just a losing battle and she should just accept that when it comes to ballet from now on (grade 6+) she will just scrape a pass?


 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

It's impossible to know without seeing your daughter dance, or without seeing her body, her ballet facility (which has rigorous mandatory standards for physical facility and type - which unfortunately you're born with.). Also, not actually seeing the teacher or the class taught, again it's impossible to tell.

 

What does worry me is that why continue in something causing her so much pain, with a teacher who sounds pretty sadistic ( a lot of dance teachers in schools can be pretty rotten people, taking out their own failed careers and ambitions on their pupils.)

 

Anything that causes a child to feel so horrendous and rotten that they need counselling isn't good, indeed can have devastating longterm mental health effects that last into adulthood.

 

The only real advice to listen to is that if she wants to continue dancing then it must be for the love of it, with a teacher who respects her as a person and her love of dance and isn't using her to score points off of. I would advise you to find a new school which will just nurture her love of dance as a health and recreational activity and not put pressure on her and certainly not put her down, engage in ad hominem attack on a child or make disparaging remarks when  she succeeds. I'm going to use the vernacular here, that woman sounds like a bitch, it's her problem not your daughter's.

 

The CAT scheme with its focus on other non ballet forms of dance sounds ideal. Dump the teacher and school, not dance. 

  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure that other more knowledgable people will be able to give specific advice but, before they do so, I think that you / your daughter need to establish what she is hoping to achieve in dance?

 

To dance professionally?

To dance recreationally but fairly seriously (eg taking the vocational exams, entering competitions and festivals, taking part in things like EYB)?

To join a ballet company?

To have a career in some other form of dance or musical theatre?

 

I think that your daughter's mental health must take precedence over everything else even if that means taking a bit of a step back for a while. An unhappy child is unlikely to make as much progress as a happy one.

 

I hope that you get some useful advice from other posters soon.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi MuddledMama

I'm sorry to read how your daughter has been treated.  I can't comment or advise on anything re improving technique etc as I do not have a dance background so no knowledge there unfortunately, however what I do have experience in is a situation not un-similar to yours with my daughter. She is now 13 and started dancing at 7. As a result of some very unpleasant teachers and teaching styles we moved her to a different school that was recommended. Unfortunately although my daughter got on ok there, it was still a school with a bullying culture who used undermining tactics to supposedly encourage their students. My daughter does not respond well to this style and responds much better to positive reinforcement. To cut a long story short I became quite experienced in reading between the lines with dance schools as well as sussing out dance teachers who groom parents as well as children so was able to eventually find a school that suited my daughter. Alongside that she goes to a very good ballet teacher (not connected to her dance school) who is an excellent teacher and very calm and encouraging. My daughters technique is now excellent although she isn't the classic ballet shape, she has more of a sporty body.There are disadvantages of moving schools a few times but while some people may disapprove of that I have no regrets and my daughters technique, ability and self esteem have improved greatly. She is now settled and happy and has regained her love of dance. Nothing is more important than a child's mental health.

Edited by joyofdance
missed out a word
  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry I'm not getting this but what does it mean when you are saying Dance teachers "groom" parents and children?

 

Ive only understood the word "groom" to mean one thing and not usually in connection with Dance

Link to post
Share on other sites

 I will need some time to read the original posters post again as it's quite long and just want to get a handle on the timescale of the young girls progress etc to see if thus is relevant or not

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, LinMM said:

Sorry I'm not getting this but what does it mean when you are saying Dance teachers "groom" parents and children?

 

Ive only understood the word "groom" to mean one thing and not usually in connection with Dance

Hi LinMM

Grooming takes many forms. It is largely associated with the exploitation of children however It is a way people (including some dance teachers) play power games with parents and children. For example some teachers will gush all over parents about how talented, amazing etc their child is however they manipulate the parent in to thinking that only their dance school can teach them/help them improve. ( not unlike the Abbey Lee style of teaching) With children they will behave similarly as well as pit the children against each other, show favourites, accuse some children of not being loyal/dedicated etc and generally behave in a way that leads the adults and children to believe that they must stay at the particular dance school. Not a great explanation sorry but I am at work and sneaking in the odd email so a bit rushed. Generally speaking grooming is manipulative exploitative behaviour designed to gain power and control over people and situations. Anyway I hope that answers your question, if not I am happy to elaborate and give examples when I have a bit more time as it is something I feel very strongly about.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

proballetdancer - She knows she doesn't have a typical ballet body and knows she has no chance of becoming a professional classical ballerina but I think what's happened is that being told regularly that she is not a ballet kid has put her off ballet, even if it's just as a good foundation for everything else. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't see the harm in encouraging anyone to pursue something they enjoy, encourage but be realistic. So don't make out someone is the next Misty Copeland when clearly they are not but you don't have to keep reminding them or discouraging them when they want to do things. If one of DD's friends came to me and asked about auditioning for royal ballet (without any dance training at all) I would advise her that the standard would be high but if she really wants to then why not apply, what have you got to lose (shoot for the stars and all that).
The counselling happened when she was at her old dance school, when she moved to her current one she completely changed, she was happy again. She is doing very few classes with the teacher at the new school that has a lot of negative views as well (up until last term she was doing everything with her). The other teacher who she does most of her classes with now can give the same sorts of corrections without the negative use of language. For example saying she is lazy with her tap, when I asked the other teacher her opinion she said sometimes she can be a bit flat footed in certain exercises but she wouldn't call it lazy (she recommended getting full sole tap shoes instead of split sole like the other teacher had recommended, which would make all the difference). She absolutely loves dance and she's already decided she wants to go into it as a career, she knows classical ballet isn't an option but still enjoys it, she seems to flit between really loving ballet, wanting to do associates etc to hating it and she's no good etc.

 

aileen - She has it all planned out already, she wants dance to be her career, she wants to continue her training, go to college, dance professionally when her pro career(if she manages to have one) is over teach dance and own a studio. She's already considering things for GCSE's that will help her, she's looking at graphic design so she can do all her own logos, business studies so she has a good business head for owning a studio. I think she probably would go for a ballet company but has had the idea squashed so early on that it's not considered an option for her. There's a fine balance between lying to someone about their chances and not crushing them and I think she's been crushed so often by local dance teachers it's hard for her to get back up time and time again. She's happy most of the time but it doesn't take much to bring all those negative emotions/thoughts back, sometimes she can just shrug it off as the teacher being a bit stroppy but it's the other times when maybe she's having a bad day herself and it's a bit of a "yes she's right, look at my shoulders I'm rubbish".

 

joyofdance - oh dear, maybe our kids went to the same dance school as the way you describe it is almost word for word how I would describe her old dance school. Unfortunately for us, we are in a fairly rural area so there is not a lot of choice when it comes to dance, especially if you want to train seriously/do exams. My daughter responds better to positive corrections, so reminding her about posture will get a better response then shouting something insulting or comparing her to other's, different things work for different kids. 

 

LinMM - joyofdance described the grooming that went on at the old dance school perfectly (either our girls went to the same school or there are way too many of these horrible places out there). For me it was the mental grooming that I found so terrifying, DD genuinely believed that she deserved to be hit, she had been groomed into that way of thinking, along with everything else joyofdance mentioned (pitting children against each other, favouritism,making children and/or parents feel they weren't loyal/dedicated enough).


Timescale for her dance is as follows;
Age 7 (Autumn 2012,dance school 1) - starts informal dance classes (no proper structured syllabus other then the tap)
At almost 9 (Late spring 2014, dance school 2) - RAD grade 1 ballet, ISTD grade 1 tap, grade 2 modern (for 1 term and then in grade 3), bronze jazz and several non syllabus classes, did tap (Merit)& ballet(distinction) exams summer 2015
Age 10.5 (Jan 2016, dance school 3) - RAD grade 3 ballet (also doing g4 class) & inter foundation, ISTD grade 4 modern, grade 2 tap (also doing g3) and several non syllabus classes
Summer 2016 - g4 modern exam, g2 tap exam (Merit)
Autumn 2016 - G3 ballet exam (Merit)
Spring 2017 - G4 ballet exam (Merit), g3 tap exam(Distinction), silver jazz exam (Distinction)
Autumn 2017 - G5 ballet exam(Pass), G5 modern exam(Merit)

 

Whatever grade she is at she will always do the grade above and as many of her current grade as she can get to, so for example she will be doing 2 grade 6 modern classes and an inter foundation modern class, but because of clashes with the CAT scheme she will only do 1 grade 6 ballet but will also do 1 grade 7 class.


With the exams coming up these next 2 terms by summer she will be 13 and grade 6 ballet, grade 6 tap,intermediate foundation modern. What I don't want to happen is for her to cruise through these next grades on knowledge of syllabus, performance etc only, it's the technique she needs but I don't know if perhaps she's at a point where she won't improve.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think there's any intrinsic reason she can't improve, but she might need different teaching than she's getting and maybe different exercises. If she's thinking badly about the corrections she's getting then that's going to get in the way too: you can spend a lot of energy on worrying about how awful you are that you'd be much better off spending on fixing the things you're not getting right yet.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If your daughter is doing the new, more demanding RAD syllabus for ballet then she is working at a good level in terms of the grades exams. However, it is concerning that she 'only' achieved a pass in her most recent (Grade 5) exam. Unless she had a bad day that does rather suggest that there's something amiss technique wise. I think that you're right to be concerned about your daughter simply ploughing through the exams every six months or so. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be very surprised that at 12 and a half she has reached a point she won't improve!!

 

Thankyou for putting that time scale out.

The difficulty is that every child is different in how they make progress but it does seem to me as if your daughter has done a lot of exams rather quickly. She is now studying Grade six you say....so okay really. 

Is there anyway you could get hold of a syllabus copy and see what is being looked for technically in the next exam.....as that seems to be the issue for you ....as she picks up the general steps quickly ( well that's a positive!!) 

If there is a video which goes with the syllabus....as in RAD for example .....then often dancers are picked to demonstrate who have very good basic technique so you can get some idea of what this should actually look like. 

Im not sure why the teacher doesn't seem to want to help with technique .....perhaps she doesn't have the time to give any more extra classes but then she should really say this and perhaps recommend someone who can help you.

Perhaps it will turn out eventually that ballet isn't really your daughters thing but there is no harm in continuing for pleasure if she wants to that is and therefore no rush to get through loads of exams too quickly .....just take that side a little more slowly now. The ballet can still serve as a good foundation for the other dance styles she does enjoy and seems to get very good marks in. 

 

Otherwise if both she and yourself are keen to then finding someone outside the school to help with technique could be the answer and it's not as if you haven't asked your current teacher for help! 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder whether some private lessons on basic technique with a sympathetic and understanding teacher might boost your dd’s confidence. My heart goes out to her especially as my dd was the same with tap. My dd had some private lessons with a lovely teacher who boosted her confidence. She dances for fun and in amateur shows now but she still doesn’t really like tap. I had no idea until she was seventeen because she didn’t tell me what was happening and it really shattered her confidence as her then teacher was a bully and derided her. I would act now.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, LinMM said:

I'm not sure why the teacher doesn't seem to want to help with technique .....perhaps she doesn't have the time to give any more extra classes but then she should really say this and perhaps recommend someone who can help you.

Some teachers don't necessarily have the ability to get the best out of each individual.

 

Some teachers are able to develop a rapport with a student and give constructive positive corrections. Another teacher might give the very same correction given in an unsympathetic, negative or critical way.  To a student with a loss of confidence or lacking in self-esteem, guess which teacher would get the best results?

 

It may be that your dd has been pushed through the grades too quickly and hasn't had enough time to get to grips with certain things technically. Sometimes you can be practising too much without the right sort of correction, so that poor technique becomes ingrained. It takes a very long time to unlearn poor technique and retrain your muscle memory, so that you automatically use yourself in the right way.

 

The RAD syllabus is deliberately designed so that all the grades up to 8 are suitable for recreational dancers with normal 'general public' physiques.

 

I'd suggest that the CAT scheme would be ideal, and she needs to start enjoying herself again. Is there another local dance school she could try? 

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel so sad for your daughter reading this. Isn't it all about the enjoyment and pleasure of dance at this age? My dd is a bit younger but for her she loves dancing, loves the people she dances with and idolize's her fantastic teacher who encourages her every step. 

What area are you from? Other people on here can recommnd a dance school worthy of your daughter x

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know this sounds a bit counter intuitive, but my gut feeling is that she needs to cut back. I know that we are always telling our children that they need to work hard to achieve their goals, and I'm sure everyone here knows what it's like having a single minded child......but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I feel worn out reading your posts even. Everything just sounds  like a huge uphill struggle for your DD. I wonder if she needs to step back a little, relax and stop putting so much pressure on herself. Just enjoy the dancing for a while, don't panic about exam results or anything. A more nurturing teacher sounds like it would help, but I know that may not be easy to find if you dont have a lot of local schools. I would look though. The current situation sounds unsustainable. I hope things look up soon.

  • Like 13
Link to post
Share on other sites

So sad to read your post and that your dds dance journey has not been a happy one. It’s sounds to me that your dd has been pushed a little too quickly (my dd is almost 12 so not that much younger) and is a royal MA, and is studying G4 Ballet (about to take her exam), plus inter foundation and grade 6 as her stretch class. 

Im not saying that’s standard, as every dance school is different, and I don’t s doubt there are girls at higher levels in her associate class,  but my dd teacher says grade levels and exams really aren’t massively important, it’s what you learn as you progress through them at a steady pace and getting the basics correct is what is important.  And I do tend to agree. 

I do believe that taking 3 RAD grades within 12 months is hugely ambitious for anyone, especially the incredibly hard grade 5 which is apparently a bigger leap than grade 6. She cannot possibly have done anywhere near the recommended hours to perfect all of the steps and technique and I can imagine it’s been extremely stressful for her and you to race through them, and must’ve taken some of the enjoyment away. (Never mind the other exams she has Been taking and preparing for at the same time!) 

 

I would agree that she might be best placed to take a small step back from the number of hours she’s doing for a while and if changing dance schools is an option I’d defintley look at it. 

 

Good luck with building her confidence. She is clearly a talented dancer but just needs some gentle guidance to fulfil her potential xxxxx  

 

Edited by Balletmum55
Typo and addition of info
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Pups_mum. It's quality over quantity; especially when you're learning basic classical ballet technique. Honestly, two hours of ballet lessons a week focusing on correct placements and technique would do far more for her. I heard several times on this forum that even at the Royal Ballet School in the first year they take all the students, however talented, right back to the very basics. Solid technique is the foundation for everything else in classical ballet. Whizzing through exams will not help one jot.

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

muddledMama, although it's possible I doubt our daughters went to the same dance school. I say this because sadly the type of dance school that both you and I have experienced are far more common than you would think. I could (but obviously won't) name at least six or seven well known and well publicised dance schools like this all within a short geographical area. Have you thought about your daughter not doing exams at all and just concentrating on enjoying dance and improving her technique? My daughter did all the usual exams from the age of 7 onwards and she always did well however her current ballet teacher doesn't do exam classes. She feels that the syllabus often just teaches children how to pass the exam and doesn't necessarily teach them how to dance well. Not everyone will agree with that but for some children exam syllabus classes are not necessarily the best way for them to learn. I am happy to be corrected by anyone on this forum however my understanding is that when it comes to the dance industry (future work etc) that employers will be more interested in how well someone dances rather than how many distinctions etc they have. It very much sounds to me like your daughter (and you of course) need to find a dance school that suits her. I know this isn't easy but it would be worth the extra effort if your daughter is really serious about being a dancer. X

Edited by joyofdance
Poor spelling
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Are there any teachers near you that teach Russian or Cecchetti? Both my dds vastly improved technique wise doing Russian. They both still do RAD but it can be very easy to just learn the steps for the grade in order to pass exams especially if the school just focuses on this. Russian and Cecchetti both have a lot of free work so your Dd would have to have secure technique to take exam rather than just know a syllabus.

There are Cecchetti associates which are less restrictive on body type but could act as a boost of confidence for your Dd. It really helped my Dd2 who is now 11 but feels overshadowed balletwise my elder sister. 

Hugs to your Dd.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back to the original question... Technique - can it always improve?

 

My view is that if a student has become demoralised over a long period, and lacks a belief in their own ability and potential to improve, then they will find it incredibly difficult to make progress. Any correction at all, even from a particularly understanding and sympathetic teacher, is likely to only reinforce the negative mindset, and confirm in the student's mind yet again that they will never be good enough, no matter how hard they try.

 

It takes a lot of emotional support & careful training over several years (and an exceptional teacher) to overcome this problem. 

 

Sometimes perhaps it is best to take a huge step back, take all the pressure off and just dance for the fun of it. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots to take in here about the issues faced by your DD MuddledMama , and yourself as the Mum of a dancer, and very good comments as always from fellow BalletCo members.  I was talking to DD over the holiday about her recent progress in ballet (for other reasons than your DD she has previously had issues about her ballet ability) and she credits her current strong technique, for which she has received distinctions in her last two exams after years of merits, on a new teacher who she goes to for a technique class once a week.  The teacher has inspired her with her teaching and the way she handles corrections with the whole class.  Looks like you need a new teacher - good luck with any decisions you make.  My only other comments which echos some of what is above is that while it can be good to work on the grade above two many grades at the one time can be confusing.

 

PS - sorry one more thought, or two, echoing what is above, deciding what she wants out of ballet, and dance more generally, is a good starting point for any future decisions as is considering quality over quantity of classes

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would imagine that the perceived drop in technique is down to the number of exams she has taken in such a short space of time as it does seem to indicate she has been taught to pass an exam rather than consolidating technique at each stage. The analogy DDs teacher gave her quite a few years ago now , that might help your DD understand, was to compare ballet to building a wall. You can build a wall higher (go up the grades) but if you don't align the bricks properly or mix in mortar, then your wall will not be solid and you will not be able to build any higher. It may well be that she needs a bit longer without the pressure of another exam to just consolidate what she has already learned - so she can concentrate on technique as she already knows the steps.  It might interest you to know that DDs teacher often encouraged students to attend a class a grade lower than their current grade, rather than one above, specifically to consolidate technique - even when they had achieved a distinction. It certainly feels like it is constantly stretching them and teaching just to syllabus if there is such a focus on exams.

 

One thing to definitely tell your DD is that she would not have been able to take all those exams in such quick succession if she was not talented.

 

You talk of associate schemes - have you ever considered the RAD associates as these are non syllabus and very much technique based, running along grade levels? You don't have to audition to get in and they are 1 sunday a month, committing yourself to 4 months at a time.  We found them very good, excellent positive teaching.

 

As for the future, please remember and reassure your DD that only a very very small percentage of girls do go onto to be professional ballet dancers but not having the 'ballet body' does not mean she cannot go onto vocational training and a career as a professional dancer. Very few vocational schools and colleges actually are focused just on classical ballet. The vast majority offer qualifications in 'Professional Dance' - not 'Ballet'. My own DD is a professional dancer - not a professional ballet dancer - though ballet was her principle focus throughout.

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgive me for saying this but there seems to be a bit of cognitive dissonance here. You say she's no longer depressed but then gets gripped with self criticism and anger, you say she wants to be a dancer and has her whole life planned out, yet she won't join associate schemes due to these many issues.

 

Again, it is impossible for anyone to give you any definite answers without seeing your daughter, her body type, her ability, assess her ability in class and see the quality of the training.

 

Yes, technique can of course improve, but ballet technique improves in a professional direction for those kids with the genetic and physical talent for ballet, which covers a whole range of physiological traits which have to be there from birth.

 

The other overriding impression I get is that you're driving yourself crazy and from your descriptions your daughter seems to be very conflicted too.

 

Pups_mum suggested she take a break from dance and I think that'd be an excellent idea for both of you for a couple of months at least. Calm down, centre yourselves get a perspective away from these toxic situations and then in a clearer happier place make decisions then. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Not dance related but DD plays piano and a number of years of grades and not having the technique to play the piano as I had expected (only able to do scales and her exam pieces and very poor at sight reading) I discussed this with her teacher and we gave grades a break and she started to actually learn to play the piano.  Unfortunately the teacher moved and we didn't find another one.  However after a break she started playing again last summer and was able to sight read well enough to play pieces.  She started back with lessons in September with the plan to just play but after a few weeks asked me to buy a grade book and is making great progress.  The right teacher with the right attitude is so important.  The first teacher accepted the need to back off grades and the new one has inspired her to take them up again!  Maybe the new year is a good time to reassess.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your comments,advice and suggestions a lot for me to think about xx

 

Colman - I am thinking more and more that this one teacher in particular just has a problem (what that is I'm not sure), going back several months when she was still receptive to private lessons during them she would say things about DD remembering to tuck her bum in because she's got quite a bottom on her compared to "X child". She would say things like that but in the same session that DD is the hardest working student she has, I don't know if she felt it was balancing the negative out but it really didn't. DD would still apply the correction but you could see she wasn't enjoying herself, the other teacher she has however is very much about positive correction, so she could still remind DD to tuck her bum in but without the extra comment about how big it is compared to another child's. 

 

Aileen - Yes it's the new syllabus and I do feel like she's been rushed through these grades, something the teacher complained about in regards to other teachers/students. When she was getting ready to do grade 3 in Autumn 2016, the teacher had already said she planned to put her in for grade 4 in the spring and at the time she was having a regular private lesson to go over grade 3. I suggested to the teacher that maybe she should forget the grade 3 exam, still continue doing the class but focus (particularly during the privates) on grade 4 as she hadn't spent as much time on that as she had grade 3, she didn't agree and wanted DD to do the exam. Same with grade 4, not long after she did the exam she said DD could do her grade 5 in the autumn as she would be ready. I suggested maybe she should wait at least another term as although she got a merit in her grade 4 the higher marks were not on technique it was all the other stuff (think her highest mark was in character) but she insisted DD would be ready and she wouldn't really improve much between the Autumn and March this year, maybe a point or two difference if she was lucky. This was just before the summer term started and I asked if we could do around 3 private lessons a week to focus purely on her technique, she said she didn't really have time (when previously she did have time) not unless I take her out of school like a couple of the other kids do. 

 

LinMM - A friend's DD has already done grade 6 so she has the videos and is going to send them to me so at least I can check and see if DD knows the syllabus as well as doing it correctly. Something very strange has gone on with the teacher, she use to be very enthusiastic couldn't do enough to help DD with her technique (or any of her students with anything) but this past year something has changed with her and she is completely disinterested. Another mum is having issues with her DD, not with technique but other things and she has seen the same change and I think she might have hit the nail on the head. The teacher seems to have all the time in the world for students who just want to do a handful of classes and nothing more but the minute a kid wants to train seriously and in particular if they go off and do other things (like associates, EYB or just extra classes elsewhere) it's like she switches off to that child. I know another girl who wanted to up her training (she was doing maybe 5 classes or so a week) and her mum asked if she could go into grade 6 instead of grade 5 (completely misunderstanding what another mum had said about doing the grade above as well as current grade).  Rather then calmly explaining things, the teacher lost her cool and suggested she find another school if she wanted to do that, so she did after 10 years with her she just up and left. The teacher didn't try and resolve the situation at all and from what I understand of the school's history this girl had been a bit of a favourite (not in a bad way, just very well liked/featured in shows etc by the teacher because she was really good).

 

Fiz - It's finding someone who is willing (and available) to teach private lessons purely on technique, like I said earlier there's not a huge selection of teachers around here. Well there are plenty of teachers but I don't hear good things about a large majority of them and I don't see any of their students going off to vocational training or associates or anything (apart from maybe 1 out of hundreds of kids).

 

Taxi4ballet - Her teacher keeps on about training her muscle memory but then the focus seems to be all about syllabus, I think that's why she's been through these grades quickly, she doesn't have the technique but the knowledge is there so when exam time rolls around I think the teacher has looked too much at DD being spot on with timing, knowing the steps etc and (particularly with ballet) hasn't really considered that she hasn't quite got the technique, it does seem to be a bit of a "we'll work on her technique in the next grade" every time.
You're right about her being de-moralised and how it can be hard to make any progress and it is definately the teacher that makes or breaks these situations. I'm just thankful that she has had a few people in her life (other then me and her dad) who tell her not to listen to the negative and cheer her up. One of her dance friends is a lovely girl who also came from the abusive school and can spot when DD is having a down day and will have her laughing she is a lot more resiliant then DD and I think it's rubbing off a bit. She seems to be slowly but surely getting to a point where she can take the correction and shrug off the nasty remark (sometimes not always). I think because she has the other more positive teacher giving her the same correction in a nice way it's helping. So she can take the correction, apply it and is slowly understanding that taking the negative personal remarks to heart is pointless as that's the other teacher just being mean. We only changed 90% of her classes to the new teacher last term so hopefully the longer she's with the new positive teacher the more she can see the older negative teacher is just being horrible with the personal remarks.

 

Princessballerina - That's the thing, despite all the negative stuff that's happened she absolutely loves her dance. I've suggested to her before about maybe cutting down classes or whether she really wants to do it all and she is adamant that she HAS to dance. She is still doing a handful of classes with this more negative teacher but she sees them as extra classes to her main (nice teacher) classes and she gets to be with girls she seems to get on well with.

 

Pups_mum - I'm hoping after this next exam (tap) things will calm down a bit and we won't have any more exams for at least a year. I keep suggesting to DD she does less or is she sure she wants to do this day or that day when she could have an extra day off but she won't hear it, she sees it as a punishment if she can't dance. She has scaled back a lot compared to this time last year. She was doing in total including all the show/competition rehearsals about 21 hours a week (last January) whereas this term she is doing about 15 hours, next term it will be less(around 12) as a couple of the shows she's doing will have ended.

 

Balletmum55 - I completely agree it's not about the grade they are in / what they achieve at the exams but the technique and that is why I'm so concerned. I don't think she has done anywhere near the recommended hours and that her teacher has put her in for the exams based mostly on her knowing the syllabus as well as moving up with the peer group. She was doing grade 3 once a week from January 2016 to the November, she started grade 4 in the February(2016) alongside it but she was doing 2 classes a week of that (which is why like I stated earlier I thought it best to ditch doing the grade 3 exam but continue with the class for technique and concentrate on grade 4 as she was doing more hours in it). November 2016 (after her g3 exam)she started doing grade 5 so she was doing 1 grade 4 and 1 grade 5, took her grade 4 in March 2017 and was then doing 2 grade 5 classes a week and did her grade 5 exam a couple of months ago. She was doing regular private lessons before her grade 3, a handful before grade 4 and half a dozen privates on grade 5. She was also doing 3 hours of inter foundation,2 hours of intermediate and an hour of freework so she was doing a lot of ballet hours but not specifically on grade 3, 4 or 5. She has however done more hours in total on grade 4/5 then the other kids who only do 1 class a week and never do the grade above/private lessons.

 

Lisa O'Brien - I agree, she needs to go back to basics but it's finding somewhere she can do that. I know at some of the CAT schemes (don't know about all) in the ballet classes they take everyone no matter how good back to basics, which is something DD really really needs but it's finding somewhere she can do that. That's why I considered ballet associates as I assumed they would really drill technique into them without the pressure of an exam and learning particular steps for a syllabus, but then maybe it's not right to go to a ballet associates (if she was lucky enough to get in) if she hasn't got the natural ability/potential for a ballet career.

 

joyofdance - The more I think about it the more I think she needs to take a break from syllabus, it's clearly not working for her but then that would leave us in an even worse situation as most of the non syllabus schools around here are the franchise style places (you know the type 3 hr session on dance,drama,singing). It feels like we have 2 choices in our location full on syllabus school or the franchise type school, I don't know anywhere that is purely about technique / freework (or even some syllabus but focused mostly on freework/technique classes).
I agree so much with what you said about the dance industry,I would much rather she was getting 8's / 9's for technique and 1 or 2 on knowledge of syllabus after all at an audition they won't ask to see the RAD grade 4 character dance or whether you got a distinction in your ISTD grade 6 modern.

 

Mummy twinkle - I know of one cecchetti teacher but I have only seen one exceptional student from that school and I think she's one of those kids that would do well anywhere (she's taking classes at a few schools/associates / going off to London for training). From what I have heard on the local dance grapevine it's not a great school, but who knows might be worth a shot, no harm in trying it out.

 

newdancermum - We've definitely cut back on the grade above stuff, that was mostly DD's decision, the negative teacher wanted her to stay with the peer group who had just moved into grade 6 tap, DD was only grade 4 at the time and doing grade 5 as well, it was DD saying there was no way she was doing 3 different grades. So we made the decision partially because of timetable clashes and partially based on the teacher's opinion on her ability to skip grade 4 tap and focus on grade 5, she has her exam soon and then after that she will be grade 6 in all 3 (ballet, tap, modern) but the only thing she will be doing the grade above in is modern and vocational ballet and again that is a timetable thing, she'd be there anyway waiting to be picked up (because I can't get her any earlier) so she may as well join in. The only class she will double up on is grade 6 modern, so it's all been scaled back so she can just focus on her grade 6 stuff.

 

2dancersmum - We have considered doing the grade below but it's the timetable problem again, for her to do that it would mean giving up a class in her current grade or giving up her day off (which I'm hesitant to do, we try to keep one day a week when she has absolutely nothing and can just relax).
I didn't know about the RAD associates, I'm going to look into that as they sound like a good solution running alongside the grades and if it's only 1 Sunday a month we can hopefully get out of show rehearsals once a month.


proballetdancer - She's a complicated girl, if everything is going okay then she will be in the right frame of mind for anything thrown at her, but like I said it doesn't take much to bring it all back and it's not just her. Another girl I know who went to the same school (that hit them) she is so talented but all it takes is a harsh remark to make her feel bad because she had years of these horrible teachers humiliating, belittling and abusing her. Another girl (much older) who moved from the abusive school to DD's new one has now given up dance completely because of the same problems. She was put down so much at the abusive school that it didn't take much from the new school's (negative) teacher to send her back mentally to that dark place where she wasn't good enough so she gave up. 
I've talked with DD about whether she really wants to do all this, whether she wants to do it professionally, just do it as a hobby, whatever she wants to do we will support her all the way and the answer is always the same she 100% wants this as her career. I have suggested she cuts back, maybe just do the bare minimum and not all the extra stuff (contemporary, hip hop, competitions, shows etc) but she is so against dropping anything, she just wants to dance all the time.

 

junedancer - I really think way too much emphasis has been put on the syllabus,  when I spelled it out about focusing on technique to the (negative) teacher her response was that 'we can work on that as part of grade 5' (but that was the conversation about pulling her out of school for private lessons, something I'm not willing to do). I don't think the new teacher is keen to do private lessons anymore which is a shame as she's really nice, she's re-arranged her timetable so that there are regular lessons when previously DD had privates at that time. The  (negative) teacher has made snotty remarks to another child about how her and my DD are the only ones who do private lessons (like it's some sort of horrendous thing). I know that's not true because 2 other kids do privates but they are the coming out of school whereas DD's privates fitted around school / before dance (or after the last class). I'm hoping these next 2 terms will be calmer because there isn't (as far as I know) any exams planned (at least for DD) until probably this time next year. So she won't have that exam focus and we will have more time to think about what's best for her. I think she really needs something that is purely technique and not syllabus, it's just finding someone/somewhere we can get to without any clashes (shows,rehearsals, CAT satellite etc).

Link to post
Share on other sites

With your talk of (wanting) three private lessons a week, on top of all the other classes across a variety of genres, I really feel that your daughter is doing far too much dance and probably exhausting herself both physically and mentally in the propcess. You sound exhausted with it all as well. Notwithstanding what your daughter says that she wants if you feel that your daughter is doing too much / should approach her dance differently then may I respectfully suggest that it's for you as the parent to make the decision here. Your daughter doesn't seem to be enjoying her dancing, she's unhappy and you sound very, very stressed. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, proballetdancer said:

<snip - but pertinent points  which i don;t disagree  with  from  the point of view of someone who has been a teacher / trainer / coach . menotr in other settings >

 

The CAT scheme with its focus on other non ballet forms of dance sounds ideal. Dump the teacher and school, not dance. 


the  current school , while better than the previous ones  does not sound like the 'right' school  for the OP's daughter . 

 progress through grades is something which   you can only  really judge once you know the  student, their  home setting and their teacher... 

some might suggest that the graded syllabuses are  slowed  in the early grades  because of the presumption of  them being taken  by lower primary  school aged children ... 

also  given the  collective reply   there seems to be an issue with the teacher(s)  at the current school and their egos

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, aileen said:

With your talk of (wanting) three private lessons a week, on top of all the other classes across a variety of genres, I really feel that your daughter is doing far too much dance and probably exhausting herself both physically and mentally in the propcess. You sound exhausted with it all as well. Notwithstanding what your daughter says that she wants if you feel that your daughter is doing too much / should approach her dance differently then may I respectfully suggest that it's for you as the parent to make the decision here. Your daughter doesn't seem to be enjoying her dancing, she's unhappy and you sound very, very stressed. 

 

 

I agree with Aileen. I really think it's time for some tough love for both of you, and assert your parental authority. Impose a moratorium on dance just for a couple of months, until March and spring, perhaps.

 

Your lengthy posts are indicative of that mindset we all get in when we're beset by a seemingly intractable problem. We explain the problem at length, someone gives succinct advice (indeed here many people have given the same advice) and you come back with even lengthier responses as to why you can't follow that advice. Talking yourself back into the problem - who are you trying to convince?

 

I don't say that to be hurtful or cruel, but to me and everyone else here it's clear you and your daughter appear to be horribly stressed, unhappy and by your own admission depressed. You say it doesn't take much to put your daughter back into that mindset. Well it's time to be a parent and take her out of the situation that's causing it - not just the dance school, but dance. For a couple of months, that's all.

 

You need a break, both of you. Be kind enough to yourself and your daughter to make a cruel cut for the short term.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Anna C locked this topic
  • Anna C unlocked this topic
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...