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What is professional dance training like?


dancebrain
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Hello everyone,

I’m a researcher working at the Dance Lab at the university of Hertfordshire in collaboration with the charity Dance UK and Trinity Laban. Together, we’re looking to develop a resilience toolkit for dancers to help them become more resilient to the everyday challenges of professional training. We’re very much in the early stages of research but I was wondering if those of you who have been in professional training or are currently undergoing it would be able to tell me what aspects of dance training you find stressful.

Thanks so much in advance!

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Let me say first - I am retired from both perforrming, taking class and teaching.  I still coach occasionally and write about dance.

 

So, that said.....in looking back, for me the most stressful aspect was finding good teachers.  If one is involved at the professional level, then the assumption is that the dancer has the "tools" - the body and dedication for the vocation.

 

The possibility of injury is always a concern.  Competition is a constant.  But those aspects are constants in many vocations.

 

However, because the ballet dancer is dependent upon a daily class, studying under a good teacher is a daily need from the first day to the last. 

 

Finding a good teacher - someone who knows has to transmit knowledge - how to transmit that knowledge not only to the class as a whole, but how to reach each student is a never ending search.

 

A teacher who is in the room for the sake of the student - not to serve  his/her own ego.  

 

A teacher who corrects and interacts positively.  Is not afraid of laughter.  

 

A teacher who doesn't operate through fear.  Who doesn't promote unhealthy contention and competition.  

 

A teacher who makes time and is willing - eager - to discuss issues with the student and/or family.  

 

Who doesn't depend ivory tower upon distance for authority.  

 

Who doesn't monopolize his/her  students - forbidding contact with other teachers.  

 

A teacher who expects that the dancer will someday leave to explore other grroves in the forest.

 

And, sometimes, it is just as basic as finding a teacher who truly knows how to put together a ballet class.

 

I found that dealing with all the other stresses were incidental to the all important search for good communicative positive teaching.

 

I'm not sure this is an answer you expected.  But, I hope it helps.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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For DD (16) in the first term I would suggest sheer amount of stuff to do; she is doing a pre-voc in MT

 

The classes/dancing/college is the most marvellous thing ever;the shopping, cooking, washing-up, washing clothes, washing her hair, even showering have been soul-destroying - she is totally exhausted and is talking about giving up because she just wasn't prepared for the work involved in looking after herself.

 

Sorry if that's not what you meant

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I've started a new thread - hopefully the moderators can move your posts over

 

It's not fair to Dancebrain to chat here - Sorry Dance brain :unsure::(

 

 

 

 

Only I don't know how to contact the moderators to ask them - sorry

Edited by Katymac
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This is the link to the new topic that Katymac started:

 

http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/8306-dds-struggling-with-college/

 

Could you please put any further responses about struggling with college on that thread and continue to answer DanceBrain's query on this thread.

 

Thanks!

 

Welcome to the Form DanceBrain!

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A toolkit sounds a great idea.

 

maybe also with a section for the parents!

 

After all, if there are pressures at home, this affects the training.

 

(and no, that section would not just say 'open a bottle of wine')

 

Injury or the threat of injury would be high on my son's list.

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Thanks so much for your input so far!

 

What you said about teaching Anjuli_Bai  is a very good point, its interesting that you found this to feed into all other aspects of your professional life.

 

Katymac, the shift from living at home to living away is a big jump for any student let alone in vocational training so can only imagine how hard that must be for your DD.

 

Stirrups36, we're currently just working on one for dancers but I agree a parent focussed toolkit would also be very useful!

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Welcome Dancebrain :-)

 

My son's now onto his third professional season and we've found the same as Stirrups - injury has been the most stressful thing as a student and since. Whilst apart school he missed out on some opportunities (performance, competition etc) due to injuries and it's horrible for them when they think they're missing out or falling behind.

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My DDs still in training and her biggest stresses are undoubtedly illness and injury.  When they first go away from home though, most are not used to deciding for themselves when to see a doctor, making their own appointments, phoning school to report in sick, getting to and from a doctors or hospital - all tasks the parent has done for an 16 or under 16 year old living at home or the school/boarding staff for a vocational student.  Initial stresses, that can be ongoing are financial concerns and time management (for everyday living and especially if working part time).

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However, because the ballet dancer is dependent upon a daily class, studying under a good teacher is a daily need from the first day to the last. 

 

Finding a good teacher - someone who knows has to transmit knowledge - how to transmit that knowledge not only to the class as a whole, but how to reach each student is a never ending search.

I couldn't agree more with the above statement and your list Anjuli_Bai.  My DD looked long and hard to find the right teacher/s and enjoys learning from a range of teachers (through summer schools and additional training) to build on the value she gains from her core classes.  I think a helpful part of the resilience kit/ coaching would be indicators that help students recognise whether they are a good fit with their teacher/s, and vice versa, and also to help them recognise their training options, both at home and internationally.

 

Also, coping with injury - my DD has learned to recognise different injuries over the years and uses a common sense approach to working through them and/ or getting support - some are just niggles that go away with limited action and downtime and others need expert attention.  I think support on how you might work through and cope with injury would be helpful.

 

I also think that the being away from home thing is also very stressful - mixed with lots of other talented individuals, all striving for the same goal.  It's competitive in some ways but mutually supportive in others.  This can cause tensions aswell as establishing the basis for bonds and brilliant friendships!  I'd recommend coping with the tensions and the ups and downs as a key part of the resilience toolkit.

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Great topic! For me the most difficult times for my son has been when he has lost confidence in himself for whatever reason (clash with a teacher, performance pressure, injury, peer group competition). Holding onto your self belief can be incredibly difficult. Tools to develop resilience and mental strength would be wonderful. I think the psychology surrounding winning in athletics and other sports is often given higher priority, but I would love to see vocational dance schools offering more to their students. My son has had a few sessions with an ex dancer turned sports psychologist and the positive response from him was amazing. The school arranged these sessions which is wonderful so I do hope there will be funding to offer mire. As always it comes down to money.

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