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Dancing at two different schools


Twinkletoes22
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May I please have your advice. My daughter loves dance and has been doing ballet for some time. She’s keen to try other forms of dance but the timetable at our current school doesn’t work with her siblings and just life in general. We’re keen to continue to do ballet at her current school when things go back to some sort of normality but maybe try tap or jazz or contemporary elsewhere. Her teacher says it’s not the done thing in this country to do that. I’m not from here so not really sure and wanted to find out if that’s the case. Thank you. 

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If her current school offer tap, jazz etc then she’s right, it’s not really the done thing. It would be different if her current school was just a ballet school, but if it offers other styles it would be frowned upon to do those elsewhere. I would say your best option is to find a school where the timetable works for all of the styles she wants to do. Not always easy but it depends how keen she is on trying other styles! Good luck!

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If your daughter wanted to do extra ballet, her teacher might have a point as far as dance etiquette goes but you say that she wants to learn tap and jazz/modern. If your daughter's teacher doesn't offer these classes or not at a suitable time, I think that you are entitled to send her elsewhere for these classes. However the teacher does not seem as if she is being very helpful. Perhaps another school which has your daughter's interests instead of her own at heart might be an idea?

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You are well within your rights to attend multiple schools - especially if they are for different dance styles. Lots of children do. We do even for ballet. We have our primary teacher (she is first and foremost our main teacher and always will be as she’s nurtured my children’s love of dance so well) and then supplementary private classes elsewhere. Our teacher knows and is perfectly fine with it. As long as your child respects that different teachers will teach differently and they are to follow what is being taught in each class separately rather than ever try to challenge/undermine or compare any of the teaching without being asked, I think it’s fine.
Children can do well from learning from multiple teachers - that’s what would happen if your child is in an associates programme or looking to apply for vocational schools anyway (supplementary classes are often recommended). Maybe have a chat with the teacher and explain why - hopefully she’ll be more helpful. Maybe she’s worried about losing business?

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8 minutes ago, BalletBoyMumma said:

You are well within your rights to attend multiple schools - especially if they are for different dance styles. Lots of children do. We do even for ballet. We have our primary teacher (she is first and foremost our main teacher and always will be as she’s nurtured my children’s love of dance so well) and then supplementary private classes elsewhere. Our teacher knows and is perfectly fine with it. As long as your child respects that different teachers will teach differently and they are to follow what is being taught in each class separately rather than ever try to challenge/undermine or compare any of the teaching without being asked, I think it’s fine.
Children can do well from learning from multiple teachers - that’s what would happen if your child is in an associates programme or looking to apply for vocational schools anyway (supplementary classes are often recommended). Maybe have a chat with the teacher and explain why - hopefully she’ll be more helpful. Maybe she’s worried about losing business?


I think is a slightly different scenario but I could be misunderstanding. An associate scheme is designed to supplement and enhance the training provided at the child’s main dance studio. Difficulties can occur attending different schools for different styles when these styles are offered at the home studio. If a child joins the competition team, for example, and does a ballet solo representing her home studio, does she then do a tap solo representing the second studio? Who’s uniform does she wear? 
 

I completely understand taking up different styles/extra classes etc where the home studio just doesn’t offer these - but where it’s offered and you choose to go somewhere different I can see why the teacher might be somewhat offended/upset. I think if kids are serious about dancing and picks up classes five or six days a week, timetabling to fit all these in does become more difficult but I think it’s just the nature of the beast.

 

My DS does ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, commercial, acro, and musical theatre/drama at his home studio. He also attends RBS as an associate. He picks up extra ballet with a Zoom tutor that his teacher is aware of purely because she herself is unable to offer private lessons via zoom. But if I was to turn around and say he was going to do tap, contemporary etc elsewhere because it fitted in better with our evenings etc, I know she would be very offended. 
 

Dance schools are a big part of a child’s identity and certainly in my experience they feel that they’re part of a ‘dance family’ and there’s a real sense of team and community spirit. I think attending more than one home school could interfere with this but I appreciate all children are different and your DD might not mind that. I’ve just never seen it happen, that’s not to say it couldn’t or shouldn’t!

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If your own school does not offer lessons in other dance styles at a time that are compatible with your family life then personally I believe you should go ahead and find them elsewhere.

Being open and honest with your child’s classical teacher and explaining why you have decided to make that decision would be important in my view, emphasising your high regard and loyalty to her ballet training, but that’s where it ends.

You are a busy parent, trying to juggle everyone’s requirements and your child shouldn’t have to stick to ballet just because your teacher doesn’t have a suitable times for alternative classes.

 I can understand your teacher being firm with regards to taking ballet classes elsewhere which would be a definite no. But she is being unreasonable in this circumstance which may mean she loses you altogether!

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@Bunny depending on the type of school that’s definitely worth thinking about (is the child wanting to go in as a route into competitions or just try something out to see if they like it?) but it’d also be very sad to hear of any school making a parent/child feel bad for trying something new elsewhere if they know full well the parent can’t make their main school’s timetable work. As a parent of a child who’s still very much trying to figure out what they enjoy, that’d really put me off. Hopefully it’s just a misunderstanding. 
 

It’s not that uncommon in our local area (especially among older students who might prefer one school’s modern style, for example, over another’s, or wish to attend more often than either school offer alone) - and even recommendations happen between schools. (Pretty lucky for me really as I hate confrontation or the thought of potentially offending people). We don’t attend a school that focuses heavily on competitions though so that could be why we have a different experience. I can imagine it’d be trickier to navigate with competitions happening often, especially between schools. Food for thought. 

 

(DS is a JA too so they might know each other :) ). 

 

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7 hours ago, BalletBoyMumma said:

@Bunny depending on the type of school that’s definitely worth thinking about (is the child wanting to go in as a route into competitions or just try something out to see if they like it?) but it’d also be very sad to hear of any school making a parent/child feel bad for trying something new elsewhere if they know full well the parent can’t make their main school’s timetable work. As a parent of a child who’s still very much trying to figure out what they enjoy, that’d really put me off. Hopefully it’s just a misunderstanding. 
 

It’s not that uncommon in our local area (especially among older students who might prefer one school’s modern style, for example, over another’s, or wish to attend more often than either school offer alone) - and even recommendations happen between schools. (Pretty lucky for me really as I hate confrontation or the thought of potentially offending people). We don’t attend a school that focuses heavily on competitions though so that could be why we have a different experience. I can imagine it’d be trickier to navigate with competitions happening often, especially between schools. Food for thought. 

 

(DS is a JA too so they might know each other :) ). 

 

Its so tricky isn't it. I had a similar situation.. dd has been dancing with our dance school since she was 7 and adores her teacher. Did jazz tap and ballet and grades but no comps. She was desp to do comps and lyrical/acro or other styles. In the summer we went to a cheer camp and she was asked by the teacher there if she could represent her doing solos in lyrical acro and cheer....my dd was so excited so we spoke to her dance teacher who said absolutely not and that it was bad etiquette to dance for different schools. From our point of view we thought as they were different styles of dance and more cheer related it would be ok, but I do understand that from my dance teachers point of view, she had trained my dd and got her to that point and then she would be representing someone else. We told the other coach that we wouldn't be able to join her team. ..since then our dance teacher has started extra styles of dance and has also said she would be doing comps so she has taken on board what we have said. Its very tricky isn't it! Our dd is a JA and our dance teacher said its also about technique and that going to different schools could jeopardise her training especially if the level of training at the other school was not as good. Her dance teacher has been amazing supporting us through the audition vids and I think we made the right choice for our DD but it was all a bit awkward. X 

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It has been interesting to read opinions on both sides of this and it does seem to be quite split. My thoughts are that a teacher should want the best for the student and so if the other classes at your normal school are not accessible to you for scheduling reasons, I can't see why the teacher would want to hold your daughter back by not letting her do those disciplines elsewhere. From my experience, most teachers know the other schools/teachers in the area so why not have another chat to explain the situation and suggest the schools/teachers that you are looking at and see what the teacher says? That way the teacher can be confident that your daughter is with a decent teacher for the other styles and should feel that you value her opinion. If she genuinely has your daughter's best interests at heart, she should be happy to help.

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I’ve always  been inclined to

regard this as a red flag against a teacher of martial arts, dance or anything else, especially since you’re not proposing to do ballet elsewhere.

 

To me it speaks of both inappropriate possessiveness of the students and insecurity that they’ll come off badly in comparison to other schools. 
 

I could understand a warning that being taught different styles of ballet by different teachers could be confusing (it is!) or even a gentle steering away from another school because you didn’t agree with their teaching style or culture.

Edited by Colman
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This is really interesting to read! My DD goes to 3 dance schools, all are aware she goes to the others, all are very happy that she does. I think the important bit is thinking about your reasons for needing other dance schools. For us it was an extra non-syllabus ballet class to supplement her grade work at her local school, plus a contemporary class that her local school can’t offer. We’re really happy with her local school, the teaching is exceptional, which means the 3 schools are complementing one another. My feelings are that if you’re adding classes in to make up for poor quality teaching then that’s where the issue lies and perhaps it’s time to move schools? It doesn’t sound like that’s the issue though? There’s lots of worry around changing dance schools, understandably so with the dance world being so small! But, you need to put your child and family first and do what’s best for you. We changed dance schools (between two local schools) a few years ago due to class time issues, it felt awkward at the time, but I’m very happy we did it!

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When my dd was young her dance teacher allowed her to go to other schools for extra classes and dance styles which she didn't offer.  In fact she even set this up on occasion.  I don't know what the position would have been for styles she did offer, but I think she would have been sensitive to the issue of timetabling not fitting.

 

On the face of it, you might think that the teacher is trying to protect her business, but if so that would be short sighted as you could just up sticks and take all your business elsewhere.

 

There could be other reasons for her position.  The conflict when it comes to competitions is one.  Another could be, if you have said you are looking at a particular school and she has reservations about the teaching at that school.  

 

Maybe you could go back to the teacher and ask for her suggestions as to how your dd could start to expand her dance repertoire given you can't see how to make it work with the current timetable.  She may have ideas. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you have a particular 

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35 minutes ago, glowlight said:

Maybe you could go back to the teacher and ask for her suggestions as to how your dd could start to expand her dance repertoire given you can't see how to make it work with the current timetable

This seems sensible. If the answer was more-or-less  “change your timetable” I think I’d have a very careful think about the overall situation but hopefully it’ll be more positive than that.

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16 hours ago, Bunny said:


I think is a slightly different scenario but I could be misunderstanding. An associate scheme is designed to supplement and enhance the training provided at the child’s main dance studio. Difficulties can occur attending different schools for different styles when these styles are offered at the home studio. If a child joins the competition team, for example, and does a ballet solo representing her home studio, does she then do a tap solo representing the second studio? Who’s uniform does she wear? 
 

I completely understand taking up different styles/extra classes etc where the home studio just doesn’t offer these - but where it’s offered and you choose to go somewhere different I can see why the teacher might be somewhat offended/upset. I think if kids are serious about dancing and picks up classes five or six days a week, timetabling to fit all these in does become more difficult but I think it’s just the nature of the beast.

 

My DS does ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, commercial, acro, and musical theatre/drama at his home studio. He also attends RBS as an associate. He picks up extra ballet with a Zoom tutor that his teacher is aware of purely because she herself is unable to offer private lessons via zoom. But if I was to turn around and say he was going to do tap, contemporary etc elsewhere because it fitted in better with our evenings etc, I know she would be very offended. 
 

Dance schools are a big part of a child’s identity and certainly in my experience they feel that they’re part of a ‘dance family’ and there’s a real sense of team and community spirit. I think attending more than one home school could interfere with this but I appreciate all children are different and your DD might not mind that. I’ve just never seen it happen, that’s not to say it couldn’t or shouldn’t!

I know exactly where you are coming from. 
A few years back my eldest DD moved dance studios to meet her needs. Her younger sister remained at the studio as that also met her needs. OMGosh. The grief I received from the Principal and was told ‘so when are you moving your youngest so I know when I can fill her place?’  That wasn’t even on the cards but by the end of that term it most certainly was. As it happens it was the best move ever but that wasn’t the point. As a few paying parent I should have been treated with more respect than I was. I was trying my best to ensure each DD needs were met, at the appropriate time. As there’s a significant age gap due to the arrival of their brothers 😉

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1 hour ago, Colman said:

I’ve always  been inclined to

regard this as a red flag against a teacher of martial arts, dance or anything else, especially since you’re not proposing to do ballet elsewhere.

 

To me it speaks of both inappropriate possessiveness of the students and insecurity that they’ll come off badly in comparison to other schools. 
 

I could understand a warning that being taught different styles of ballet by different teachers could be confusing (it is!) or even a gentle steering away from another school because you didn’t agree with their teaching style or culture.

Yes, that was my feeling too. 

 

We did recently encounter a new teacher be really quite forceful about continuing and criticising us for allowing DS to take a break for his sanity (we are apparently throwing away a huge opportunity and it’ll be too difficult to catch up with the competition if we even take two weeks off). Major red flag moment. 
DS (very much a social dancer) has struggled with Zoom and doing too much of it risks pushing him away from dance completely - which in my opinion is way worse than not getting into vocational school this year. I got the impression student wellbeing wasn’t a priority but her own reputation for ‘student success’ more so. That isn’t a good fit for us. A real shame as he did enjoy the classes.


Not saying that’s what’s happening for OP or their school but it did make us reevaluate why we are doing all of this and what to look for in teachers (not just dance!) in future (and, of course, appreciate just how wholesome our main teacher has been about everything so far).

Our local school is very much about fostering a love of dance and doesn’t have an elite team so might be why they seem much more relaxed about it all. But we have had those same conversations about style too. Even just doing JAs and the ballet being taught being quite different in style to ours has had its challenges. 
 

Whichever route you choose, relaxed or fast-paced and competitive, a supportive teacher is the most important thing. And the ability to discuss these things without causing offence (hopefully). A good teacher is worth so much - she may have very good reason, and it primarily be for your child’s own benefit but if so, will hopefully explain that. :) 

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I used to think that this was very straightforward  - you are the paying customer, and the parent so do whatever you think is best.

However, over the years, I have come to see it as not quite that black and white. One thing is that the standard of teaching varies enormously from school to school, so a teacher may have good reason not to want his or her pupils attending some other  schools. There's also the potential for conflict of interest and timetabling. That's not likely to be an issue if you're just doing classes, but if the young dancer takes part in competitions or there are shows or exams at the same time it can cause problems for the teacher and ill feeling amongst peers/other parents if attendance at rehearsals etc is sporadic. Over the years I've seen a few problems of this type. For example a dancer from school A also attends school B and is given a significant part in school B's show, but then discovers that preparation classes for school A's exams clash with the show and pulls out at the last minute, or both schools enter the same competition at the same time but the dancer can only be in one team. It can make things a bit awkward socially with the dancer not being quite sure where they "belong". As adults that may seem trivial to us, but it is something that is very important to many youngsters. There is a lot more to having dance lessons than just learning to dance, if that makes sense?

 

I also think that having multiple teachers is something of a double edged sword and it does depend a lot on the individual dancer, what stage are at and how adaptable they are. For older, more experienced dancers I think it is generally a good thing to be taught by different teachers, with different perspectives and slightly different approaches. I remember my DD struggling with one particular thing for ages but she came back from a summer school with it all sorted, simply because the teacher had explained things in a different way and it just "clicked" for her. A different teacher can see faults or potential that someone who has known a child for a long time can overlook. But for younger or less experienced dancers different teaching styles can be confusing and they may struggle to adapt - it really is very individual.

 

My personal view is that if you attend more than one school it is important to make it clear which the "primary" school is. I think problems are more likely to arise if you try to "have it all" and get over committed. It is the same with other things of course. My son attends two cycling clubs, but one is his main club that he races for and the other one is mainly social really - everyone knows where they stand and its never been a problem. It helps though that the people who run the 2 clubs get along. There are other clubs that I wouldn't take him to as the relationships are different. 

Ultimately my original comment still stands though. You are in charge. Teacher A cannot stop you taking your child to teacher B. However, the teachers do also have rights and Teacher A is of course at liberty to decline to continue to teach your child. You have the right to choose but the teacher also has the right to run his or her business the way that they want, as long as it's legal. 

 

But whatever you decide, talk to the teachers and be open and honest. You may or may not be able to have everything that you want, but in my experience getting everything out in the open makes things better. I know of people who have done things behind teachers' or coaches' backs and it almost always ends in tears eventually.

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An honest discussion could alleviate the teacher’s potential fears of losing your daughter as a student, too (if that happens to be her reasoning) - it is an understandable worry. I wouldn’t take ‘not the done thing’ as a valid reason without a more in depth conversation about it though.
 

Agree on the point about keeping it very clear who the main school is. Teachers at other schools can let you know from the beginning if your child likely won’t fit in with their teaching plans too then (and that honesty is helpful both ways). You don’t want to be disrupting their more serious students. 
Zoom has blurred the lines a bit - I think many schools are trying to stay afloat so are understandably accepting more students who likely don’t have any intention of ever attending once back into studios, and there must be similar worry from teachers about students who are trying new things with other schools (who are able to offer more online classes) that the student might choose the new school over theirs once lockdown restrictions end - so that honesty is still very important. 

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Thanks all. The thing is my little one is only 9 years old and her current dance school don’t do shows or festivals. It is just purely lessons and exam. I feel she’s losing the will a bit because she loves to perform but doesn’t like the competition of festivals. At our old school abroad, she had both and I think she found it stressful but loved the annual show to be wirh her mates and work as a collective. She doesn’t have that at this school at all. I asked the teacher (in a bid to be transparent) about associate programs she would recommend and she would only recommend the Royal Ballets JA program which is so hard to get into and her associates program which we cannot fit in because of her school commitments (and I’ve tried to change those every term without success). 
The school itself does offer other dance styles but they finish quite late (8pm) and some clash with her siblings and travel time there and back is a factor. I did try to be upfront and say that we wanted to try some other styles close to home (just for the variety and also for the opportunity to do a show every couple of years) but she was adamant that she would not endorse it and it’s not the done thing. This has left me in a quandary. 

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For a child of 9 it doesn't sound as if this school is a good fit. Only classes and exams with no performance opportunities is not good ballet training. There are many excellent Associate programmes and some pretty awful ones too, so it is impossible to generalise. But why is this teacher talking about her own Associate classes, does she accept pupils from other schools or is it just an additional coaching class for existing pupils? Something doesn't add up.

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Ah, I remember your previous post I think @Twinkletoes22

In all honesty, in your shoes I think I would move school completely. As I said earlier, I think that there can be some very valid reasons for teachers being cautious about where else their students go, but to be so adamant that only  RBS JAs is good enough is frankly, ridiculous. 

Does this school actually meet your, and most importantly, your DD's needs? There are no shows ,which your DD misses,  the timetabling isn't a good fit for you and the teacher sounds rather inflexible - what are the good points that are keeping you there, and are they really worth it? I'd be using this down time to be researching other local schools if I were you. 

 

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Oh bless you. I have to agree with the others - it doesn’t sound like a great fit from what you are saying. Many children love competitions, or shows at the very least, so they can have the joy and excitement of performing. But to be in a situation of none or very little and then not be allowed to try something else elsewhere on top of that, that does seem too restrictive. 

 

And RBS associates are great but they certainly aren’t the only ones worth trying for (though don’t be put off about auditioning as they are looking for potential and musicality, not technique at that age - we went with zero expectation of DS getting in and no prep for it, just tried for the ‘experience’ - that actually served him really well as he wasn’t nervous and spent his time enjoying the audition. Completely different to how he’s dealing with this next stage that he’s having to prep for - stress levels are high.) 

There are loads of fantastic associates programmes out there. You can apply to most without your teacher’s consent if you want to (though admittedly it’d be sad to have to do that). 

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9 hours ago, Colman said:

This seems sensible. If the answer was more-or-less  “change your timetable” I think I’d have a very careful think about the overall situation but hopefully it’ll be more positive than that.

When I went back with the challenges we faced changing times with our tutor (we needed one to help DD get up to speed with the UK education system), she just told us to change tutors. That was not particularly helpful as we’re waitlisted for several already. 

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6 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

For a child of 9 it doesn't sound as if this school is a good fit. Only classes and exams with no performance opportunities is not good ballet training. There are many excellent Associate programmes and some pretty awful ones too, so it is impossible to generalise. But why is this teacher talking about her own Associate classes, does she accept pupils from other schools or is it just an additional coaching class for existing pupils? Something doesn't add up.

She accepts other pupils from other schools for her associate program as well as students from her school. She wants DD to attend but we can’t make it work around school at the moment. 

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Thanks everyone. I think I know what we have to do now. I am really grateful for all your advice. It’s been so hard to navigate this dance world especially if you’re not from a dance background and have just come abroad. I just want to do the right thing for my DD but also the right thing culturally. Thank you! ❤️ 

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My daughter attends two ballet schools, has done since she was 7 (she is 12 now). It’s never been a problem? I wasn’t aware it wasn’t the done thing, we just did it! Others we know have done the same. It was what worked for us, surely that is what matters?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 22/01/2021 at 14:31, Pas de Quatre said:

For a child of 9 it doesn't sound as if this school is a good fit. Only classes and exams with no performance opportunities is not good ballet training. There are many excellent Associate programmes and some pretty awful ones too, so it is impossible to generalise. But why is this teacher talking about her own Associate classes, does she accept pupils from other schools or is it just an additional coaching class for existing pupils? Something doesn't add up.

I agree. If a child is to develop into a performer they need the opportunity to learn the art. In a studio in front of a mirror cannot take the place of the stage (and in our former life) an audience. 
Without performance experience a dancer whilst being technically perfect can lack that X factor.  It’s finding the happy medium between syllabus and shows that’s the challenge. 
Hence the title Performing Arts. 🙆‍♀️
 

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