CriticalDance Forum

Adult Dance Student Recital Miffed
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Author:  Sushi [ Sun Aug 28, 2005 3:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Adult Dance Student Recital Miffed

Hello. I am an adult ballet student that seem to have lost some steam in my pursuit of studying ballet and was hoping for some advice.

Let me just start off with that I had the most wonderful teacher that recently retired. :cry:

There are just an endless amount of compliments I can lavish her with but I won't bore you with me reminiscing of good times. She had this one, almost magical quality that made all her students feel like dancers no matter what the age, level, size. We celebrated every dancers' milestones equally, no matter if it is a double pirouette or simple a grande jete. It was a truly wonderful enviroment to be showered in.

It has been a diificult road trying to find a similar enviroment to wrap myself in. And at first I thought it was just difficulties adjusting to different teaching styles of various instructors, but I came to the conclusion that it 's the attitude, their faith or lack there of, in what adult dancers can achieve with a little work, that I miss the most.

I think I am fairly realistic of what my capabiliites and limitations are. So I don't have any grand delusions of ever being the lead, or supporting lead, or third string lead :wink: in a recital mind you, but I do feel that I could do more then just to occupy space on a stage as a party guest, with only folk and character steps to do. I would of been happier being dressed up like a half eaten jelly donut and all I did was to boree en pointe across the very back of the stage where no one saw me.

What pretrubed me the most about the casting was that we were catgorized by our age over abilities. All the adults were party guests, no matter what the level of the dancer actually was. Very frustrating.

So from this experince I am a little taken aback and questioning myself if I am not just an old fool continuing to throw my money away. I feel like everything I have worked for have been in vain and dismissed purely based on my age and classification as an "adult dance student", which I am VERY proud to be. :D

Am I just being too picky? Maybe I should thank my lucky stars that I get to preform as an adult at all? Maybe adult students has no place in a school recital? I don't know. Help! :(

Author:  spangles [ Tue Aug 30, 2005 10:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

Just out of curio. was the ballet being performed at the recital "The Nutcracker"? Remeber that no part of a ballet is insignificant. That each and every part is important to the telling of the story. Sometimes the folk and character parts take more skill than actual dancing because it also calls on the skills of a dancer to also be an actress. I personally feel that Adult Ballet Students most certainly deserve a place within a school recital after all it shouldn't matter the age, standard etc of a student but the fact that they love what they do, they are a student and pay good money to learn all aspects of the craft. Back in my day as a student, one of our school rules were never to question a casting but to be grateful that you have the health and the ability to be able to dance. I was somewhat disgruntled at the time but you know, at one performance they I gave as part of a youth ballet company, sitting in the first row of an audience there was a little girl in a wheel chair. You know, to this day and this is some 30 years later, I still remember seeing the joy on that young girls face and it was at that moment, it rang true as to what my teachers were trying to tell us about being grateful. (It was also at this time that I decided that I was going to become a teacher and share the love of dance to any and all who wanted to learn). I know it can be frustrating and I do hear what you are saying. Perhap you could express your thoughts and feelings to your teacher as I am sure that nothing was meant by this casting but that of trying to tell the story and share the magic of dance. Let us know how you get on!

Author:  citibob [ Sun Sep 04, 2005 1:12 am ]
Post subject: 

It's one thing to not get the casting you want when you believe that you're working within a meritocracy in which you could (in theory) be the Sugar Plum Fairy, given enough improvement and hard work. You certainly might be unhappy with current casting, but you can always look forward to more favorable casting in the future, and use that as a way to work hard.

It's an entirely different thing to believe you've hit a glass ceiling, that nothing you can do will get you further, no matter how hard you work or how much you improve. That is totally demoralizing.

I've heard far too many adult students note that glass ceiling.

Also... adult students are not the only ones in ballet with glass ceilings. That is an issue for men too, at least men who want to dance with their own bodies rather than their partner's. One day you realize that no matter how well you dance, you will never be the Sugar Plum Fairy --- nor will a structurally similar part (but male) ever be created for you. It is incredibly demoralizing, like being shut out of the party.

Adult ballet students often act like children, in an endearing sort of way, in the same way that juvenile ballet students act like children. Something about the experience of ballet does it. It is helpful to take a step back and look at your situation from an adult perspective, in the context of the rest of life. I know this doesn't change it, but it can help put a bleak situation in perspective. Inside the studio walls, dance is everything. But in the grand scheme, it is not. Ballet relies on a hefty dose of fantasy of those involved to continue working. I'm not sure if that fantasy is so bad, but I like to identify it as fantasy, lest the fantasy take on a life of its own.

You might be happier seeking performance opportunities in modern dance. I have seen groups of adult students do amazing things as parts of real performances (as opposed to recitals).

Author:  Sushi [ Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:16 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks very much to both Spangles and Citibob for replying with such wisdom.

It wasn't the Nutcracker. It was an originally choreographed ballet by the school's artisitic director. And I agree that sometimes folk and character roles can be more challenging and fun to portray, if they are choreographed that way. However when it is the only role to be cast merely based on age, you can see why it would loose its appeal. As I dance 4 times a week with pointe classes twice a week, I have had hopes of being cast in a traditional ballet role every once in awhile.

I also came to the conclusion that the performance itself is their top prioirty. This is evident as they often opt to import dancers from outside of the school rather than working with existing talent. As they gear up for their fall production their intentions are made crystal clear. They posted a list of roles available and stated that there "were ample opportunities for corps, soloist, principal level dancers. Adult and children roles also available." I belive this is a "glass ceiling" situation.

And after reading both of your reponses serveral times and looking back, I have decided to leave the studio.

After what seemed like an eternity of searching, I have found a new home to dance. I have been cast as the Rabbit in the winter holiday production and will be a part of a wonderful spring production done all on pointe and tutu!!! As I am rejuvenated with hope, I look forward to truly enjoy being a part of the story and being allowed to share the joy of dance.

The studio is 45 minutes away from my house but it is worth the trip, even at these high gas prices. :wink:

Author:  citibob [ Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sushi, that is great to hear! Have a great time dancing at your new studio!

Now a little song for your Holiday cheer...

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty long.
Yes, my lord, they were put on wrong,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

And definitely, enjoy the performance en pointe and tutu this Spring. I'm sure you're looking forward to that and working extra hard on your echappes. Remember to cut your toenails and eat right and don't get too many blisters, and for Pete's sake, keep your eyes on the road while you're driving to the studio, even if you're on cloud 9, and make sure you miss the pedestrians... ;-)

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