upset (dance class) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
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My daughter (7) started ballet last year. This was her first experience in a dance class. The studio was brand new. I really liked the owner and my daughter's ballet teacher seemed very friendly. I was happy with the experience until they started working on their "showcase" performance. I turned the ballet lesson into a stressful race to learn the dance moves and positions. I asked if I could video it so I could help her at home practice and both the owner and teacher said it was against their dance policy to record. My daughter did learn the dance on her own and had made an amazing amount of progress. I was upset though when I dropped of my daughter for the dress rehearsal and was told that I couldn't stay and it would be 4-6 hours. I thought that that was ridiculous and I went and sat outside the theatre. When I picked my daughter up she was in tears and said that her teacher had yelled at her because she forgot her position and if she did that during the show she (the teacher) would be very angry with her. This was her very first ballet recital. Her first time on a stage. My daughter said she never wanted to dance again and didn't want to perform. I gently talked her into dancing at the recital. That even if she started acting like a monkey on stage we (her family) would love and enjoy it. She laughed and agreed to dance because she didn't want to let her dance classmates down. She danced beautifully and did not miss any steps from what I could see. Her ballet teacher did come up to her and told her she did a beautiful job. I am still so very upset about her yelling at my child. My daughter said that the teacher did grab her arm and moved her into her correct position while yelling at her and it did hurt her arm during the dress rehearsal (which she told me the day after the show). I feel very upset. Also they held auditions for the children to be in competitive groups. The whole reason for dance lessons was for her to learn a new skill, make friends and have fun. The studio has turned into a clique of dancers in the competitive groups and those who aren't. My daughter did not audition. Now the friends she made in the dance class are "broken" up into different groups. I already spoke with the owner about how my child was treated and she did say she would talk to the ballet teacher. I feel like going up to the ballet teacher and pulling on her arm and "putting her in her place". I felt like I should have followed my instincts and not have dropped my daughter off at the rehearsal (I was able to stay and watch all the lessons throught the glass window). My daughter wants to still do dance but not with that teacher. I am looking at other studios but I am afraid it will be all the same thing. The focus on showcases, recitals, and competition rather than the focus for the love and technique of dance. Holy moly and some of the costumes the girls were dressed in made my jaw drop. Little girls in skimpy outfits dancing to beyonce's if you like it you should have put a ring on it music. My family was less than enthused with some of the other performance dress and music. Yikes. Thanks for listening to my rant.

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#2 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 04:45 AM
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I'm sorry it was a bad experience.  I would be livid, too, and would have spoken directly with the teacher about it.  We are starting our daughter (age 6.5) in classical ballet this fall.  I researched ballet companies until I found one that fit our philosophy and that didn't offer a jazz or modern option (I dislike many of those kinds of dances for the reasons you listed).  Maybe let your daughter have a break for a while, or put her in a different type of dance class.  Irish dancing looks like fun, if she wants a fast-paced dance that isn't too risque.  Otherwise, perhaps check out classical ballet companies and see if one of those will work for you.  I'd go with one that has been around for a while and has a good reputation for working with young children, and maybe go observe a class or two before committing.

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#3 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 05:14 AM
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Sounds fairly typical. I've had better luck going through park district type classes vs private businesses.

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#4 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 08:08 AM
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Ds loves his dance class, but HATES performing.  He wants nothing to do with being on stage, being watched, performing AT ALL (he won't sing with his school for the end of the year party even though the only people watching are all parents of the kids who he knows really well).  He does a creative movement class which does not focus on a recital.  The last class of each session is a mini "show" that the kids work on the week before and that week and then "perform" for parents/caregivers, who ever is around.  Ds does not go that day.  He has been very clear that he does not want to participate in the show.  His teacher is totally fine with that.  She did coax him into doing one of the shows by letting him be "poison ivy" throughout the entire performance (i.e. standing still in the background with his arms over his head).  I love that he is able to be in dance and have it not be about putting on a performance, it can be about the moment and not the "future."  We are friends with his dance teacher but even with her knowing him outside of dance it took us all about a year to really figure out how to get ds to fully participate in a way that he felt comfortable (e.g. no performing, never being "alone" dancing in front of others, even his peers)


He had wanted to go to ballet with two of his friends but I knew that the class would be similar to what you described and also would include a big push on doing what the teacher said exactly when she said it, instead of having a moment (or many moments) to become comfortable.


 I would suggest looking around for a more causal group/studio/YMCA etc that NEVER has a competitive dance troupe.  Because if you are in a studio that has competitive dance they will always be dividing the kids into competitive groups vs non-competitive groups and more of the emphasis will always be on performance.

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#5 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 11:25 AM
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This is why I put DD in highland dancing.


You can be competitive - or not.  It's up to you/your kid.  No teacher is going to tell you you can't compete.  The parents are relatively sane.  The dance itself is great exercize and even better, no slutty looking costumes.  (not that I mind that really, but the it's the whole competitve insane dance thing I want to avoid).


I think your idea of looking for another studio is a good one - it sounds like this one has more of a competitive focus.  See if there are any that would allow your DD to 'drop in" for a class so you can both see what it's like (and you can suss out the other parents).   There are studios like that in my area too, I chose to avoid them.

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#6 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 11:52 AM
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That sounds very similar to how my dance experience was. I was in dance for 11 years, tap and jazz. Very competitive and strict. No recording, no parents allowed to stay and watch, long rehearsals, etc. I thrived in that environment and absolutely loved it though. When looking for a dance studio for my daughter I was looking for something like that instead of being relaxed. It's not for everyone though. If your daughter hated it then competitive dance may not be the best fit for her and you. There are plenty of dance for fun places, I'm sure you'll be able to find something you prefer.

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#7 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 02:03 PM
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I have a DD that does competitive dance and another one that just does dance classes. It sounds like the studio and or the teacher was a bad fit. We have gone to multiple studios until we settled where were are now and yes there is heavy emphasis on the team which I choose just to ignore until DD1 herself decided that she wanted to do it. I've left studios over not being able to stay and watch. I get to watch everything my girls do in dancing, from all the practices, to rehearsals, we can record. DD1 really messed up in competition one time, nothing was said to her but lots of praise. I do not tolerate not knowing what is going on. 

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#8 of 13 Old 06-22-2012, 02:31 PM
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I did classical ballet until I was 18 years old. It was real ballet, not play or just for fun. It was taxing emotionally & physically. At times I was yelled at, well not yelled but spoken firmly to. My teachers were not American, they were Russian. Different ballet schools have different styles of teaching their dancers to dance. It depends if they are old school or new school. It is typical for children to rehearse without the parents though, this happened to my daughter on Monday. She was in rehearsal for a few hours. I dropped her off & left the school has it set it so that some things they have to do alone. You have to find the right school for you if you don't like the sternness or yelling or time she has to spend at the studio alone, i would find another school for her, because as she ages it will only get more and more intense. 

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#9 of 13 Old 06-27-2012, 04:37 PM
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My daughter danced for most of her life.  We started in one studio, and she stayed there for three years, but she just wasn't clicking with any of the kids, and she clearly wasn't one of the favorite girls.  I don't need her to BE THE favorite...but, I want her to be liked.


So, we tried another studio  for one month trial, and she instantly loved it.  Loved the teacher, loved the staff, made friends, it was a good fit for us.


I have never, ever been to a studio where we were told we couldn't watch the dress rehearsal.   The parents are a huge part of the rehearsal and the recital.  

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#10 of 13 Old 06-27-2012, 06:38 PM
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Our dance studio is NOTHING Like that. However, dress rehearsal is without parent. . . if you want to be there, you can volunteer to help. Last year, they allowed parents at dress rehearsal and it was complete chaos. We have been with classical ballet studio in the past. It was positive too, but they had a stricter "no parent' rule. Our current dance studio has a competition group, but you don't get to audition until middle school. My daughter is involved in it and it has been a great group. However, I can't imagine having a 7 year old be part of one. At the same time, we saw several groups that were 7 and younger at various events. I think that you should switch studios. . . talk to some parents first. Find out how things are handled. The teacher you had sounds terrible. I wouldn't stay where mistakes were a "tragedy". Amy

Mom to three very active girls Anna (15), Kayla (12), Maya (9).
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#11 of 13 Old 06-27-2012, 06:48 PM
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Yikes...that was not our experience at all, though this was our first year of dance and dd is only 5.  I very much felt that the teachers were encouraging and positive, particularly with the little kids.  There were many younger kids who missed lots of steps-the teacher was off in the wings guiding them, but it didn't seem like a big deal (and honestly it was even cuter that way!)  Parents were allowed in the dress rehearsal to videotape and help with constumes, though we were not allowed backstage for the actual show and had to do the drop off for several hours thing, which I didn't love but did understand.  Teachers at the dress rehearsal also seemed very positive even with the older kids-there was some correcting etc., but nothing that I would consider yelling or being angry or mean. 


I would look for a different studio if I were you-that is just not what I would want out of the dance experience. 

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#12 of 13 Old 07-02-2012, 02:22 PM
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This thread brings back memories! I did all sorts of dance when I was younger, but ballet for the longest. After years at the park district, I started taking lessons at the more "serious" studio in our area. I remember a ruler being slapped across my thighs because they weren't turned out enough. During showcase one year a tree fell on our car and I was about an hour late to rehearsal. I was cut from a number for that. It was pretty brutal and too intense for me. I ended up quitting. Most studios are going to have some sort of recital but I'm sure you can find one that's not as strict/intense/competitive if you live in a large enough area. I wish you luck! 

Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)

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#13 of 13 Old 07-02-2012, 02:37 PM
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lilyrn, do you have a Little Gym nearby?   If so, that might be a good option for your daughter.

They are not into the competition or shows with expensive costumes, and it's all about learning while having fun.   

The last class is a recital but it's low-key and parents are always on site, even during "dress" rehearsal.

It's a great place!

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