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How many different teachers/ dance schools is too many?


KatyCustard
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Hello,

 

We are currently in that awful waiting-for-a-letter period from our JA audition and we've been talking to our DD about what she wants to do with regard to her dancing. She's told us that even if it's a "no" (and we're being realistic) she wants to try again for RBS JAs again next year, and maybe other associate classes (Tring/Elmhurst). However she wants to do more ballet, and maybe have a go at another style. Her current teacher rents one or two venues but only offers one grade 2 ballet class a week, and doesn't teach other styles. I've found another dance school that offers ballet, along with modern and tap, and seems much more set up as a "school". It's got it's own studio with a mirror in it, something my DD loved at her JA audition as she said she found it really helpful as she could finally see where she needed to "tweak herself to how they want" (Her words :D).

 

So these are my questions:

 

1. Is it wise to have more than one ballet teacher? I know that if (IF) she gets a JA place that would mean more than one teacher, and the JA scheme is designed to run alongside current lessons. So is it alright to have two non RBS teachers at different dance schools?

 

2. I've always thought that if she's serious about ballet that another style like modern or tap might not be a good idea? But I know that at Elmhurst they teach other styles, so maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick.

 

What do you think? I'm waiting for a call back from the man who runs the potential new dance school. I will of course be open with both teachers. On his website it states that to go to other lessons he must give his permission. I assume that's aimed at existing students, but it makes me wonder if he would accept a student from another school. I know he will tell me himself when I speak to him, but  I think the other thing that is at the back of my mind is that my DD feels that her current teacher doesn't really like her. She's quite short with her and my DD often comes home feeling a bit dejected, which is a shame - there are only 4 girls in total in her class so it's hard to "dilute" a personality clash when the numbers are that small, if you see what I mean. So I'm also wondering if we take the plunge and change schools completely.

 

Sorry for the long rambling post. Sometimes I worry that I'm living vicariously through my DD and that we should never have gone down this route... but she just loves to dance.

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My daughters dance school encourage those interested in classical route to also do a range of other styles but I think at the younger ages its more tap and modern and then when a bit older also Jazz and contemporary.  If your daughter is not feeling happy and supported , personally I would talk to the teacher but also start to look at alternatives, so that you know what the options are.

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Unfortunately many ballet schools do not like their students taking classes with other people.....mores the pity!! I know supposedly they dread potential clashes of teaching etc but sometimes I get annoyed with all the "petit jalousies" going on!

 

It would definitely be good to be doing more than one class a week and style too.

 

Check with the "new" school whether if your daughter attended there she could do more than one class in her grade a week. Because if that is so and you say she is not that happy with current teacher then this could solve your problem.

 

Check though that this "dislike" by the current teacher is real. Some children feel that if they are corrected too much the teacher doesn't like them even though this is in their interests!!

It is probably preferable if you can find one really good teacher that you are very confident about and happy with etc but if this not an option just at the mo and you feel your child needs an extra class then I would try to get away with the two teachers if you can!!

There will be others on the forum who have currently dancing DD's who can advise you better but this is just my opinion as someone who has had a long association with ballet. I also realise it may be slightly different this having other teachers thing for an adult than a child.

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My dd has always had multiple teachers.

 

She started off at Stagecoach doing mostly drama with jazz dance and singing to complement it. She was also doing half an hour a week at an after school club, no leotard just ballet shoes in the school hall.

 

We moved her to a proper ballet school at age 7 as we felt that it would complement her Musicsl theatre/drama traing and was up front about it all.

 

The jazz teacher at Stagecoach was working towards her ISTD DDI teaching qualification at a place called Centre Pointe in Manchester and because she wanted some extra teaching practice offered to put on a free ballet class. I ssud dd could do it as long as it didnt conflict with her RAD technique.

 

The same teacher began to incorporate ISTD modern excercises within the jazz class and said they were excellent for technique so dd also began modern at her ballet school but with a different teacher. I have to say I notice a big difference between those who do modern as well as ballet.

 

In the past year she has attended an RAD Assicuate class, her normal ballet class, is about to start private ballet lessons with her modern teacher, modern, tap and jazz at Stsgecoach.

 

I think that in dd's case her RAD ballet teacher is excellent but is very focused on getting the Grade work absolutely precise (they take things very slowly) that she hasn't covered things that maybe other children her age have. The other classes have been very beneficial but they are all (except for the modern & tap if course) non syllabus. There would be a conflict if schools were focused on working towards exams and performances.

 

Sorry for the huge ramble.

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Schools do vary and I know from other parents that teachers have asked them to choose between schools.

In our experience, we've been fortunate in attending several dance schools in our city and have always been honest with our teachers and they've been so supportive, encouraging and provided advice over the last few years knowing my dd wants to train in ballet.

My dd currently attends 3 schools - 1 school in Russian ballet which is non-syllabus and 1 school where she does RAD ballet, ISTD tap and modern. She then goes to another dance school for singing lessons. 

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Katycustard, apologies if I've missed it but how old is your daughter? If she's little - 8 or 9 - then personally I would consider moving schools if you can find one which offers the classes your dd wants. At that age I think having potentially 3 ballet teachers (and styles) would be confusing. As children get older they can switch between teachers more easily.

 

With regard to trying different dance genres - Modern and Tap for example - then now would be the time to start trying them. At this stage they shouldn't have a detrimental effect on ballet training.

 

The only time it might be wise to have a break from other genres is if your dd's teacher asked her to stop tap during her first year en pointe. My dd's teacher suggested it as dd's ankles weren't very strong and as she was trying to strengthen them for pointe work her teacher asked her to stop tapping temporarily.

 

JA age is very young to be limiting your interests to only one dance style.

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Perhaps her current teacher is being a little harder on her because she knows she wants to do associates etc rather than just Dance recreationally? A class of 4 sounds fantastic and you wouldnt get so much individual attention at lots of other schools with classes of over 10. What do you think about the teacher? I think it's totally reasonable to do different subjects at different schools & my daughter does this, I wouldn't be willing to take her out of an established class but I'm not so sure about doing two exam classes for ballet. If your daughter is good & gets good marks I can see that the second school wouldn't be keen as they would want her to do exams with them. I also think that it could potentially be a little confusing at this early stage. If it were me I would start her doing a different dance style & if she doesn't get associates speak to her current teacher about her joining in an additional grade 1 or 3 class for extra ballet. If you feel that there really is a problem with her current teacher of course you should look for another school but I would be a little nervous about a school that so openly states that students mustn't do other classes, it suggests a certain attitude to me and what about associates? I think you need to speak to them about it, I can see it may be a problem in the future

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Katycustard, I agree with Spannerandpony at en early age other genres of dance will be beneficial to your DD at this young age. It can add strength and give extra performing experience so it is all beneficial, plus sometimes its nice to do some tap and modern because they give a little more freedom and is not so "held" and strict in technique. I would say give it a go and see how she likes it. Also I would definitely speak to the teacher about how your DD is doing. In my experience sometimes when DCs are being corrected all the time because they show potential, they can often not appreciate this and think the teacher doesn't like them. It may be that the teacher can see your DD shows promise and therefore wants to spend more time developing her talent. Believe me its worse when you are ignored which has been my DDs experience for part of this year! Hope things work out!

 

And best of luck for the JA letter, fingers crossed!

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Your dd teacher must think she has potential if she put her forward for the JA audition. She might be giving her more corrections than her classmates for the reasons dramascientist states. Speak to the teacher and explain your dd sometimes feels dejected after some classes - my dd teacher never praised my dd in class as 'didn't want to upset the others' but once she realised how it made dd feel she would occasionally and explained her reasons privately for not doing so. 

Be open with the teacher about your dd wanting to try other forms of dance and see if she recommends anyone, if not ask if she minds you looking around for classes. You don't want to damage the relationship with either teacher until you have settled what is best for your dd.

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Your dd teacher must think she has potential if she put her forward for the JA audition. She might be giving her more corrections than her classmates for the reasons dramascientist states. Speak to the teacher and explain your dd sometimes feels dejected after some classes - my dd teacher never praised my dd in class as 'didn't want to upset the others' but once she realised how it made dd feel she would occasionally and explained her reasons privately for not doing so. 

Be open with the teacher about your dd wanting to try other forms of dance and see if she recommends anyone, if not ask if she minds you looking around for classes. You don't want to damage the relationship with either teacher until you have settled what is best for your dd.

Totally agree with this.

 

Other dance styles won't hurt by the way- I think its best not to be limited to Classical Ballet.

 

Having more than one teacher can be beneficial. But its best to be open from the outset. Some schools  don't mind students supplementing lessons elsewhere but do get upset if its done behind  their backs.  Its not so much about competition but more about ensuring that any extra lessons students attend are of good quality- sadly there are unregulated teachers out there.           

 

Sometimes schools are unnecessarily possessive about students which I find sad as its not always in the students best interest.

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My dance teacher encourages you to have other teachers as long as they are from recognisable organisations.  If a dance teacher truly wants their students to progress then they usually have a number of options up their sleeves, like Associates/ENB/NYB/MTB/ or summer/easter schools.  My DD is very lucky to have such an excellent open minded teacher even though she operates from two small village venues she produces very good dancers.

 

Someone mentioned corrections.  My DD gets them all the time but I always say to her at least you are being noticed and the teacher probably knows you have the potential so is pushing her that bit harder.

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I agree with all the advice about being open with dance teachers and about trying other styles.  At DDs school they generally start modern  as they reach grade 1 ballet and usually stay 1-2 grades behind their ballet grade until they reach the more senior grades.  Tap is dropped as modern is started.  Regardless of whether your DD gets JAs, I would look at her ballet training.  The norm at DDs school would be 2 x 45 mins of grade 2 each week and I think you should be looking at if the school can take your DD forward.  A good teacher is one thing but you do need to have the number of classes and children ahead of you in the grades in order to be able to progress.

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I am going to assume your dd is around 8 if working on grade 2 ballet? At this age shouldn't dance just be about enjoyment and experience? I say the more the better but not because it will have an impact on JA acceptance but because it's developing an interest, increases brain power, good exercise and fun. And that in itself will allow her to present better in auditions if it is important to her. I think we dance moms (myself included)  look too far down the road sometimes and forget the here and now. What will make her the happiest now. When my dd was 8 she just wanted to dance ... all the time so she took all the classes she could locally. Tap wasn't her first love but she had soooo much fun in it and it really helpd with musicality and choreography. At the time, her studio also only offered one class per week per ballet grade so she took the higher class also but just for learning. She entered a full-time vocational school at 11 years old and now 5 years later, is still friends with those girls she danced with when little and still visits the old studio and teachers a few times a year. To me, those relationships are golden. I guess what I am trying to say is find something that your dd can be a part of for a full balanced enjoying experience. Good luck which ever road you take.

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DD at one point was taking ballet in 3 different syllabus(sp) at three different schools.  Once or twice she got confused with arms and which leg to start with but otherwise coped very well.  Two of the ballet schools were absolutely fine with this, the Performing Arts School were the most unhappy about the situation.  DD felt each teacher gave her somerthing different.  Sometimes there was a conflict with shows etc, but I let DD choose which she wanted to do.

 

DD has always relished corrections and usually whenever she came out of a lesson my first question would have been if she had had a correction, although if memory serves me well she would have been older than your dd when she came to this conclusion.

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In the opening post, this caught my eye:

 

"On his website it states that to go to other lessons he must give his permission"

 

His "permission?"

 

I can understand schools/teachers having a differing view of whether or not to engage with other teachers and/or styles - but needing his "permission?" 

 

If this is the word actually used on the school's website - for me, that sets the tone for the entire school and its not one I would consider. 

 

Whether to engage with another school/teacher/style is the choice of the student and parents - and doesn't need anyone's permission.  Offering an opinion is one thing - "permission" is quite another.

 

You are the customer - you make the decision as to where to shop. And that decision needs no outside permission nor should it effect how the student is viewed and/or treated.

 

That's just this old woman's opinion.

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Anjuli, I agree with you. Personally, I would do no more than 1 dance school and 1 associate scheme, in case shows or rehearsals clashed above all! I do think that younger students would find it quite difficult to switch between styles, but maybe that's just me...

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I would agree with swanprincess, I would prefer my DD to have one main dance school and one additional week-end activity like associates or a small ballet company should be enough.  I don't think the more the merrier as children can be torn at far too early a stage in their life as they also have homework, school sports, singing etc.  My DD's school comes first then her dance school then her week-end ballet activity.  When she is a little older and she is still serious about a dance career I will let her take on more dance.   We are doing 2 summer schools this year for instance as she is now nearly 11.  Next year it may all change!

 

For grade 2 I would also recommend 2 x 45 mins and perhaps one more for grade 3 as it steps up quite a bit.

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I think Swanprincess has made a very good point about clashes of commitments if one joins too many different things. My DD has no expectation of a career as a ballet dancer so maybe I see things rather differently to those whose children do. Whilst I totally agree that we are the paying customers and that we should not allow teachers to dictate to us what our children will and will not do,I think that we need to consider more than just what our children get out of their lessons in technical terms. I view my DD's dance school as a community,which she gives to as well as takes from.Whether she ultimately pursues a career in the dance world or not, I think she will have gained a lot from being part of that community. She's made great friends, learned how to get along with people from many different backgrounds. She's learned a lot about team work and the importance of commitment. She has shared triumph and disaster with her friends and most of all, she has had a huge amount of fun over the years. I think that if a child takes part in too many different activities and attends many different schools they could potentially miss out on a lot of those kind of things. Its good to be part of the wider life of the school and to "belong".If a child has multiple commitments at different schools it could be hard to develop that sense of belonging and lead to conflicts if events and lessons clash. Just another perspective to consider.(Though I recognise that we are lucky to have 3 very different but equally wonderful teachers who complement each other brilliantly at our school.)

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My dd does ballet, modern, jazz and tap and loves all of them equally. I would definitely let her do as many dance styles as she wants at a young age. The world of dance seems to be such a tough place and the more dance styles our children have then surely the more chance they have of a career in at least one of them. You can be great at ballet but sadly physique still plays such a big part in it and we don't know how our children's bodies will change over time, possibly for the worst regarding a career in classical ballet. Other dance styles may not be so tough on body shape. Its also about enjoying the ride and having fun along the way, so go with what makes you and your dd happy now and I would avoid the school that wants you to ask their permission.

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If your primary school is purely a ballet school you have no option but to enrol in a second school to do other styles though! If they do multiple classes in anything (gymnastics, swimming, tennis, football etc!) there may be clashes in commitments, especially if there are siblings involved. If you want to change schools anyway it probably would be easier logistically to opt for a school which teaches all though

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Whilst I do understand some teachers’ not approving of other dance schools due to possibly a variance in standard or maybe differences in the styles taught (There are quite significant differences between Cecchetti and ISTD for example when it comes to arm lines and even some ballet terminology in relation to theory) I think there are occasionally exceptions to the rule, which I will explain my reason for believing in a little while! When I was younger I attended a local combination ballet/tap class as well as a pure ballet class with a different school. My teacher at the ballet only class (who is still in a prominent position within the ballet world and has produced some beautiful dancers as well as equally beautiful choreography for prestigious companies!) found out about the other class I was attending and called my Mum into class at the time to say I would have to choose between the two because she wouldn't have the poor technique taught by the other school infiltrating into her classes. This may have seemed harsh and even unreasonable at the time, but looking back over my 30 years of dance experience I would now whole heartedly agree with her. The teaching standard of the other school was considerably poorer and they certainly didn't produce fantastic dancers in the way she did!
Apologies for going slightly off on a tangent, but back to my theory that sometimes 2 schools and even 2 different styles of ballet can work. My dd has trained from a young age at the ballet school I attended when I was young. (The school was taken over by a different teacher as the latter teacher I spoke of had bigger commitments to ballet in London!) The teacher who took over has over the years become one of my best friends, however she has a far more relaxed approach to teaching ballet and her main objective I feel is for children to enjoy ballet as a recreational activity. She does not push dancers to achieve grades quickly and she doesn't really advertise or promote external schemes such as associates or any of the youth companies etc. (I should probably add that I have assisted her at the school for about 15 years myself!) This said, we do have a handful of talented dancers within the school, but these girls have been allowed to seek out additional training for themselves. My own dd who is almost 11 is about to take grade 2 in the Cecchetti method with the school. I know of several children who are a lot further ahead than her grade wise for her age. However, I have to say dd achieves wonderful results in her exams, never below a distinction. One of the reasons children do not progress at a quick pace at the school is because it is a relatively small school and class sizes are far from massive. The teacher therefore always waits for the entire class to be ready before entering them for an exam as it wouldn’t be financially viable for her any other way. There is also the fact that being a very mixed ability school she always enters children for both standard and grade examinations i.e standard 1, then grade 1, standard 2, then grade 2 etc. For those of you not familiar with standards as a lot of schools don’t do them; these are class exams and are considered a lot easier to pass/or achieve a higher result in. There is a lot more emphasis on sense of enjoyment/performance as opposed to the strict technique required of a grade exam. My/dd's teacher uses the standards I believe because it allows children who are not necessarily typical grade children to still achieve. If you're still with me.....I'll try to get back to my original point! Dd loves dance and is desperate to make a career out of it, and over the past couple of years I became aware that she really needed more training if she was going to compete with other children who were further ahead than her. I didn't want to take her away from the school she is currently at because 1, I am obviously loyal to my friend and teacher, 2, I am more than happy with the technical standard of training she is receiving from her and 3, there are no other Cecchetti schools in the area, and as I was Cecchetti trained and so have a bit of a bias I would like dd to continue in the Cecchetti method of training also! However, for the past couple of years she has also been attending another school for additional ballet plus modern and tap. The ex-principal of this school also taught on the ballet scholarship scheme I was on when I was younger so I already knew that the standard of this school was also high and felt happy to send her there. Dd a week before taking her Grade 2 Cecchetti will be taking her Grade 3 ISTD exam! This is not the first time she has taken both exams from either school at a similar time either. She did the same last summer and achieved a distinction in both! I already know that as she advances through the grades there may come a time when she needs to choose if she starts struggling with the differences between the 2 syllabuses; but for now she is happy, she is achieving and I am more than happy with that. I don't know if my ramblings have been of any use to you, but I thought I'd give you an insight into my experiences!

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Clara, we had the same problem in that DD was so loyal to one of the teachers and that is the reason she wouldn't leave; she had been there since she was very small.  I made the odd comment but left it up to DD to make the decision when to leave.  There was another school which had gone through quite a few teachers and it took DD longer than I would have liked to decide to leave, but she made that decision in the end.  They get such an attachment and feelings of loyalty and of course they make friends, but once DD was serious about a career she became more cutthroat

 

As to conflict of shows, you know it was quite amazing but there was only one occasion when there was a major conflict and DD was old enough by then to choose.

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Ideally a student should have twice a week classes in ballet that compliment each other. One class a week in other dance genres can be added on as the child progresses. In our school we add on modern first with an option of flamenco as well and finally jazz. It can be very confusing to have classes that clash in their expectations of level of technique and/or differences in terminology, so for that reason we wait until students are above RAD Intermediate Foundation before adding on a class with a Russian teacher to widen their horizons. Even then they come to me with questions about the teacher wanting something different from me and I have to explain that it's fine - correct technique is correct technique, but there are different versions of the more advanced exercises and becoming aware of these variations in style and execution is important. Having said that a child on the level of Grade 2 needs more practise on the same basic steps in order to advance, rather than to be taught a mixture of confusing styles and steps which she doesn't do enough of to become proficient in them.

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Hi everyone, thank you for all your replies, much appreciated.

 

The man who runs the potential dance school phoned me today; he was lovely and I explained that my DD is very keen to do more ballet and maybe another style, and about the current teacher not offering more than one lesson (but not about how my DD feels about her). He said that he didn't have a problem with her studying with more than one teacher but that it would depend on how her current teacher feels. He's going to email me some class times and the fees and we'll take it from there.

 

I don't think her current teacher will mind - one of the other girls in my DDs class goes to a private school where they have one ballet lesson a week in school.

 

It's interesting what people have said about my daughter's perception of her teacher not liking her. It's not really to do with her correcting her, more that she feels that she snaps at her more than at the other 3 girls. I don't really know what to think really - all I see is the end of term presentation they do to parents and the occasional glimpse through the glass in the doors as I dash past chasing my toddler! I think it is just a case of a personality clash, and that in itself is not enough to make us change schools. It's really about wanting to do more than her current teacher can offer.

 

I do appreciate all the replies - I've been really busy at work and so have read each one on my phone, but this is the first chance I've had to get back to the lap top to reply! :)

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