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Want to leave studio but not ballet teacher


Viv
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I am an adult dancer in Australia who takes RAD exams with kids at a local studio.

 

Over the past couple years, I have had a number of issues with my studio owner. These relate to timetabling (e.g. not running Advanced 1 despite people wanting to do it, but then running intermediate foundation for only 2 people because one of them is a favourite), issues with the communication (e.g. communicating that RAD exam fees are due within 3 days or you won't be entered for exams, despite fees being in excess of $600AUD last year!), rude/disrespectful comments in email and in front of other students, saying one thing and then, when questioned, completely denying that she ever said that, and most recently, bringing the only advanced foundation class I am able to attend forward one hour so it is impossible for me to leave work on time to be able to attend. There was no consultation on this change and I didn't even get the email telling me about it, another student had to send it on to me. I understand that the schedule has to change for a number of reasons, so I have requested a refund for that class as, due to their actions, I cannot take advantage of the service I am paying for. I have received no response to that email in over a week. My attempts to communicate get completely ignored.  In the background to all of this, I also believe that the studio owner has been saying things about me to my jazz/contemporary teacher as the relationship there has deteriorated beyond hope of recovery practically overnight.

 

I am deeply unhappy at this studio and dread going back there to finish out the year. 

 

Unfortunately, I absolutely adore my ballet teacher and she is the best teacher in the entire state of Australia that I live in. She keeps completely away from studio drama and wouldn't be impacted by any of the above. I don't want to leave this teacher, but I don't see how I can stay at the studio when I get treated so poorly. I have looked at other studios in my area and they either don't teach ballet above intermediate level, or refuse to allow adults into children's classes. I don't want to move to one of the only places that offers adult open classes as I have found that they are twice as expensive but I don't progress very much.

 

I guess I'm looking for general advice about how to proceed with this situation. I have already decided not to continue with jazz or contemporary classes next year and, if I remain, would only take classes in ballet with the teacher that has been nothing but supportive of me through some very difficult personal times this year. My family wants me to pack up and leave but it would basically mean abandoning dancing at an advanced level and a serious decrease in hours. What would you do?

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How awful for the studio owner to treat you like this, Viv! I assume that your ballet teacher only teaches at this studio? Is it worth asking her advice as to how to proceed and explaining how you feel about the studio owner’s behaviour towards you? Obviously she may not be able to offer any solution but may be in a position to have some influence with the studio owner, especially as you say she has a state-wide reputation for her teaching and presumably the studio owner wants to keep her on.

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I agree with Legseleven, Viv - this is totally unacceptable.  You are a paying customer and you are entitled to receive a good service for your money.   It sounds to me as if the studio owner is trying to bully you out of the studio and I would be extremely loathe to give this person my money.

 

If your ballet teacher doesn’t also teach elsewhere, can you chat to her about private lessons if you could find a small studio to hire (I don’t know how expensive that would be)?  It might also be worth having a chat to the RAD Professional Standards department because the studio owner sounds highly unprofessional.  

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My ballet teacher only teaches at this studio and at an associates style program that caters to dancers under 15. I used to do private lessons with her but she has stopped offering them to all but a select few who she is coaching for international competitions. I can hope that she opens them back up next year but there's no guarantees. Based on some comments the ballet teacher has made recently, I feel like her days teaching at the studio are numbered but she will be there at least another year. 

 

I don't really want to keep giving them my money and putting up with the way they treat me. But when I'm in class with my ballet teacher, I forget all of that. If I knew that I could find a teacher that would give me that same joy I would be out of there, but I don't live in a place that has very many options. If I stay at that studio to take classes from the one good teacher, how can I limit my involvement with the studio owner?

 

Also the studio owner is not an RAD registered teacher, she teaches jazz and tap, only two of the teachers are RAD teachers (and both of them are lovely!)

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Oh Viv, I'm so sorry to read this. It's the bane of serious amateur adult ballet students' lives, isn't it? It really sounds as though your studio director doesn't want adult ballet students. Which is daft, because we are good representatives for our studios - I'm writing after having spent 12 hours yesterday volunteering as backstage gofer and dogsbody for my lovely local studio's big show. It was a total blast, and I had such a good day helping all the tinies, and reassuring the 10 year olds, and doing hair buns, and so on.

 

Can you travel? I know that's harder in Australia, but if you're in the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong line of travel, it's a bit easier. 

 

The other thing I've found is that there's sometimes a good ballet network that's not advertised. Maybe your lovely ballet teacher can help you find another studio or teacher, that's not obvious to you.

 

You mention an open studio where you can take drop in classes. I'd persevere with that - it's what I'm accustomed to doing - and once you are a regular, teachers will start talking to you about your aims and your development. That takes time, though. But I remember doing lovely classes at Sydney Dance Co, and at the Seymour Centre with Lois Strike. There were teachers that responded to my enthusiasm to learn, and really taught me. A good teacher (I speak as a teacher in another discipline) always wants to keen eager students, who soak up the wisdom!

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So sorry to here this Viv ...sometimes when you read things like this it’s just unbelievable how supposed Professionals are behaving! 
Is it one of these studios where some of the students are vocational alongside recreational (but serious) dancers  I have heard before that sometimes in these studios that vocational students are blatantly given more attention ..,I’m not sure if we have equivalent type studios in UK ...but anyway you are paying and been there a while and should be given courtesy of consideration if class timetables need changing etc. It’s no way to run a business. I can only hope that the ballet teacher you love can at least be persuaded to coach you through Advanced one and by then other things may have changed. 

 

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Oh @LinMM you've pretty much hit the nail on the head! Two years ago the school started offering a classical/contemporary 'full time program' and since that point, everything has changed. Suddenly if you're not in the full time program you are simply there to pay your bill and stay out of the way of the future stars. It doesn't matter that I pay substantial fees and last year was dancing there 15 hours a week, or that I donate my time making costumes and helping with hair and makeup, sewing other peoples shoes, buying props with my own money, driving the girls with working parents home after every class...I will never be a professional dancer and I won't win any competitions that they can brag about on instagram, so I am a second class citizen. This year, despite having a full time concert and an after school concert, all the leads in the after school concert are full timers. In fact, there were too many lead roles and not enough full time classical students, so one of the lead roles in the ballet is a full time hip hop student...meanwhile there are 4 after school advanced ballet students who aren't in the ballet  concert at all because they aren't 'committed' enough! 

 

Getting to learn advanced 1 is all I want, it has been my goal for so long, but I'm not sure it will ever happen at this point.

 

@Kate_N I wish I was in Sydney/Newcastle/Wollongong, I know some fabulous studios there, but I am about as far away as you can get and still be on the same continent :( Where I live is not big and I know every ballet teacher worth their salt because I either attend or volunteer at every ballet related event/competition/masterclass that I can. If things don't work out at this place next year I will probably ask my ballet teacher for advice, but I am wary of involving her because she and the studio owner have been working together for many years and I don't know what could be said to her behind my back. I don't want to risk losing that relationship.

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Hi Viv,

Yes this definitely looks like she is trying to annoy you so much that you will eventually just get fed up and leave.

I assume that your lovely ballet teacher is the one teaching the Advanced Foundation class that got rescheduled? If so, you could use this as an opening, i.e. "Sorry that I won't be coming any more, it's not that I don't want to, but unfortunately there is just no way I can make that time. Is there any alternative that you can suggest as I really would like to continue with that syllabus or start on Advanced 1"? or someting like that, and see what she says. That way you are not slagging off the SO to her, just trying to resolve your own situation.

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It really is such a shame how so often we adults hit a brick wall when it comes to trying to follow our ballet goals & progress. Why on earth there seems to be this ‘too old to do exams/advanced clssses’ is beyond me.... no one says that an older golfer can’t still reduce his handicap if he plays well.... my Dad was having his handicap reduced in his 80’s & still plays in his 90’s!!

mind you... in the world of local golf clubs I bet it’s harder to be a youngster!! Perhaps we should change ‘sports’ Viv...🤔

I had to go to another studio further away to achieve my bucket list goal of taking RAD Intermediate aged 50.... I did it I’m pleased to say at this further afield studio but still they are not now scheduling in an advanced class.... & I’m not ‘allowed’ to join the Advanced Foundation class at my original & most local studio (even though I think any others in it are certainly over 16... possibly even over 18) 

No real reasons given...& same old same old one never feels able to Question the decisions of these hallowed God like teachers!! Why do we allow them these ‘powers’ over us? If we are unhappy at how a garage treats us when we get our car serviced we a) challenge/ask for better service &/or refunds & b) find a new garage.... not always easy finding a new dance school based on geography of course....

As I think another has suggested on here, I too thought about trying to raise a complaint with the RAD about this ageist treatment.... gender/race bias I am sure would not be tolerated in the name of the RAD, why this age bias??? I do get the need for suitability in this age if safeguarding (I am DBS checked & have even done relevant courses & hold a Chaperone license) & tbh I’d rather not be in a class with under 16’s ideally either but a school that is under the umbrella of the RAD should have to provide better inclusive service IMHO. Of course we get into that other contentious area.... just what makes it an RAD school? 

Increasingly one finds just one teacher holds registered teacher status (& often thus is the oldest member of faculty... likely the school ‘owner’ & often teaches fe or any of the classes. These are taught by non registered teachers in many cases but entered for exams under the others name. Now, many of these are the very highest standard of teacher - maybe qualified through other means of teacher training or dance experience but many I fear are not. The RAD ought to be clamping down on just who provides the teaching not just the Registered Teacher number & signature on the forms if it truly wants to be seen as an authoritative body which I think would then make studios be more mindful of their behaviour to all of their customers.... we pay their wages they need to remember too! I apologise that this has turned into a bit of a rant - sorry! 

And I also realise major changes can’t hapoeh overnight but I do think there should be more to being an RAD school than merely entering pupils in exams. It should be a badge of honour that ensures certain levels of service & standards are met. And this must include a clause that all reasonable efforts must be made to provide adequate class opportunities for all regardless of age, race, gender, ability, disability etc etc where safe to do so....

Fair??

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I think doing Dance and in particular more Ballet when you're older is more of a problem if you are really serious about it and /or want to take exams etc. 

The RAD as an organisation would say it provides classes for older dancers and is very proud of it ( Silver Swans as an example) 

But of course if you have any reasonable level of ability and are dancing at Grade 6 and above then joining one of these classes aimed at your age group is not particularly attractive.......but great obviously  that they are offered to older people wanting to take up ballet as a beginner or near beginner. 

I think there is a more enlightened approach in the London area as I know the RAD Headquarters in Battersea do offer Advanced exams to older students. They also offer more free type classes for older people who don't want to take exams but want to dance at a more serious level ....these are graded so you can find the level that suits you. So there is lots of opportunity being provided by them.

Its maybe another story the further you are away from London and the further you live away from any of the larger cities like Manchester 

Its because the smaller schools just haven't got the numbers I suppose to run these classes so you usually have to attend a class with teenagers in.....not necessarily a problem .....but if the teacher hasn't enough pupils to run a particular class then it's difficult.

Sometimes this can even occur at lower ages and grades as on this Forum parents have been saying they think their child is being held back because there is going to be say ....no Grade 2 exam that year so are spending a long time in a particular grade. 

 

I do think the ethos generally is beginning to change and it is being recognised that older students may want to take exams but there is always going to be this problem of numbers in small schools away from large urban centres. 

I don't know about the problem of non registered teachers and how widespread this is. It could be a really good dancer but who hasn't taken teaching exams yet etc.... I suppose such teachers may help to keep some classes going in smaller schools ....and some of them may be very good in fact. ....but I wouldn't want someone who had never really got to Advanced level themselves say taking Advanced level classes.....just learning it from the book as it were. 

Do you live anywhere near a large city Peanut 68 or would that be just too far to go to make classes feasible.

 

 

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Actually, a friend of mine who has moved countries was reminding me of her old dance school the other day. I would definitely not trust them for ballet, but they have adult classes for jazz and contemporary that are later nights, close to my house and a much more reasonable price than most drop in adult classes. She raves about them and it looks like the adults are all having a lot of fun. However, the technique of their dancers I see on instagram (they have child classes and adult classes) show that 'fun' is more of a priority than technique. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I am wondering whether, if I could still get my ballet serious technique training somewhere, I could do those classes just for fun and socialising. But is it a bit of a waste of time  and money to be paying for training that you recognise is, to be a frank, quite poor? I'm not sure if 4 years at my highly competitive kids studio has warped my ideas of why I dance in the first place. Feeling quite lost just at the moment :( 

 

On 27/11/2019 at 22:00, youngatheart said:

I assume that your lovely ballet teacher is the one teaching the Advanced Foundation class that got rescheduled? If so, you could use this as an opening.

 

Unfortunately, the reason the class has been rescheduled is that she is off somewhere examining for the RAD so I'm not easily able to contact her to ask for advice! And considering things are about to wind up for the year over here, the most likely response will be 'what a shame but we can start again next year!'

 

@LinMM the opportunities I see for adult ballet in London just about blows me away! Actually, I have applied to my law firm to see if I could get a secondment to London for 6 months next year...it is a highly competitive position that I am extremely unlikely to get, but it would resolve my dilemma quite nicely!!! For a while at least :) 

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I continuously kick myself for having been ballet free for over 29 years when 10 of those were mostly in London.... I as young, free & single & wth lots if dispisable income too.... never occurred to me that adults did classes unless they were pro dancers! And having had the stuffing kicked out of me by 2 years Sixth Form vocational I was not about to enter the Gladiatorial Arena pro dancer zone I thought these studios were for! What a  fool I was..... have done 2 open Inter class’s in London this last year & what joy!!

Having said that, I’d be first putting my hand up to move to Australia!!! Again, spent much time in Sydney over 4 years.... never once looked out any ballet to do or even watch!!! Now? Well, don’t get to many classes partly for issues  outlined in earlier post but I do try to see as much as I can... got 4 ballet/dance shows booked 😉

 

Wush I lived nearer London though.... can’t afford time/money to go up for class/performances as often as I’d like...move closer? Hmmm

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I didn’t know about adult classes either, Peanut, and also thought they were only for professionals. Much self kicking here too. Unfortunately without a miracle, I am done with ballet after breaking my knee earlier this year. There are so many caveats by my G.P and the practise nurse that it’s a waste of time and money. I’m no longer allowed to kneel at all. I forgot when our dog was injured and my body reminded me fast! I’m only allowed to do ten minutes class and to work up to a full class over several months. Sigh...

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Sorry to hear this news @Fiz

I can empathise as even though I am not a dancer I have had to more or less abandon my hobby this year due to a fracture that is resolutely refusing to heal properly. I'm waiting for surgery and hoping for a miracle too. Breaking bones  when you are past the first flush of youth really stinks. Let's hope we both get our miracles.

And  @Viv  I hope that you find another studio that works better for you  - sounds like you're being treated very badly. I am sorry the owner doesn't value you as she should, as you sound like a real asset to the studio.

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Sorry to hear your bone is not healing well Pups Mum

Its bad enough breaking bones in the first place without the problem of them then not knitting together. This can happen I believe if it's an awkward shaped fracture but must be very stressful 

I'm so lucky with mine as everything is recovering in a conventional fashion though foot is still swollen and of course you always want it to just get back to normal faster than is possible! 

Have you had your bones checked for osteopenia or osteoporosis? 

Ive just remembered though I think you were in a car crash? How traumatic it all must be for you hope things improve soon 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am sorry to see this, @Pups_mum I hope it gets better soon. I’ve been checked and I do have osteopenia but my G.P doesn’t want me on those awful drugs yet, thank goodness. I’m taking massive calcium and magnesium pills and eating cheese and milk in the hope it helps. My mother ladled it down me when I was growing up. She’d be upset to know it wasn’t as helpful as it should have been. I think the reason I’m still having problems is because it’s a hinge joint. What a sorry lot we are! 

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Yes Ive got osteopenia as well will be checking them out again in the New Year as haven't had a check for five years now.

Last time it was only just under normal so I just take over the counter calcium and magnesium etc ....when I remember that is!! 

Its really odd as to look at me you'd never think I would have thin bones quite the opposite lol!!

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Sorry to divert from your dilemma Viv, but am interested to know what Osteopenia is as not heard of this?

Pups & Lin - hope you find ways to improve & manage this xx

Hoping to stave off future age related issues if at all possible though tbh my current method is to ignore & avoid GP.... I know not the best thing to do (but never seems to have the time to address the creaks & clunks.....in denial??? You bettcha!!)

Edited by Peanut68
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I had to change studios at the beginning of this year as my old one decided it wasn't going to continue teaching vocational grades any more. Thankfully, despite living in the middle of nowhere, there were at least 6/7 other studios within driving distance all of whom said they would accept me in their classes. I did lead with my previous exam results and stressing I knew the syllabus and was happy to wear the uniform. I don't know if that helped. I came across more problems with studios unable to switch to a PAYG pricing structure (I work shifts) and wanting to pay for a term before I'd even stepped foot in their class.

 

Fortunately, I have found an absolutely wonderful new teacher and am over the moon I switched studios.

 

I definitely wouldn't stay dancing anywhere I was unhappy but it sounds like you don't have a lot of other options available to you locally. Could you contact the RAD to see if they could suggest any registered teachers nearby?

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Osteopaenia is a thinning of the bones usually associated more with older people ...most people will have some thinning by 60 plus but it’s on a sort of age related scoring so you are rated as normal or under for your age group. 
I was first tested at 62 and was really surprised to find I had this but was not too far below normal. Then I re took up ballet and had another scan when about 66 and it had not god any worse and one score had improved! I should have gone for a check a couple of years ago but left it. After this recent break it shows my bones have osteopenia although the surgeon didn’t see any major probs! So probably time to check it out again. It doesn’t always progress to osteoporosis as it’s more a natural process of ageing but best to just keep a check on what’s going on etc 😊

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I agree it’s really only offered to people who perhaps have had more than one break ( I had) You then can get offered a Dexa Scan

Once the condition is discovered eg: below normal bone density for your age group then you are recommended to have it every 3/4 years. 
There is a difference between Osteopaenia and Osteoporosis processes but I’ve forgotten what it is! 
Also although taking Calcium supplements is often the recommended treatment it isn’t always that simple ...as you may have enough calcium but your body isn’t processing it properly. There is a connection with the Thyroid gland in bone production but again can’t quite remember as read up on it all about ten years ago now!! 
Sorry Viv have gone a bit astray here on your thread which should really be about difficulties with Ballet Schools. 
Try and persevere with ballet activities though ... eg don’t have a massive gap ( like 20 years 🙄when you don’t do it ...as it’s very good for keeping up bone density!!

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Thanks all & aplogies Viv.... Hoping you find a happy ballet solution soon xx

Bone health interesting....are there genetic elements too I wonder?

I’d been justifying my (almost) daily latte fix as necessary to ward of osteoporosis.... & why despite attempting to lose excess weight I didn’t have it up!!

Wishful thinking from a caffeine addict perhaps 🤫

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  • 4 weeks later...

Viv, it sounds to me as if you would miss your ballet and this teacher too much if you left right now with no alternative class. 
 

if it makes you feel any better it also happened to my 15yo daughter 18 months ago when her RAD teacher moved advanced foundation from a regular established weekday evening to a weekend day that clashed with associates. I later had a comment relayed to me that she wanted to give others a chance to “catch up” including some hot favourites. So, I ended up doing an internet search to find the teacher and school she’s with now and she couldn’t be happier. 
 

some teachers just have massive egos and are a complete pain about “committment”! Urghh! 
 

i think if you can drop the jazz and contemporary and feel better about not being talked about behind your back, and stop doing the favours and literally just go for your adv class whilst this teacher is still there then I’d try that. Stay in your car till the last minute to go in, avoid eye contact with anyone and just get in the class. Haha 
 

as an aside, my dd got so fed up with poor teacher organisation she set up her own club, did her own marketing via social media (Instagram and Snapchat!) and before long had enough people to run a class herself (hired a venue, found a teacher and hired her!) her friends were happy to have an additional ballet class alongside their current one. She worked out she only needed 4 or 5 people per class and it wasn’t hard to get it up and running. (She now has two classes running and was up to 12 people including 3 boys who would never dance anywhere else). 
 

anyway, Maybe you could do something similar with any like minded friends? Maybe uni students who still want to dance advanced levels? also it might be against the teachers contract terms as restrictive trading clause to teach students elsewhere ie private lessons but it will be ok to be an employer/studio owner! Food for thought :) 

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