CriticalDance Forum

making the most of enormous classes
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Author:  ari [ Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:58 am ]
Post subject:  making the most of enormous classes

hi, everyone:
i love this board, even if i never post any more.

i have been dancing for a long time, but the past few years have been an "off" spell that has been frustrating but also culminated in me moving to new york city. (hi, other new yorkers!) i am finally getting back in to taking class, realizing i am not quite as out of shape as i thought, but still working hard.

but this new york business of 1231241324 dancers in a room -- i took ballet yesterday morning and there were probably 40+ people in class -- is, needless to say, daunting. i am used to small classes, classes where the teacher knows you and comments are given. the whole time, i think the teacher only gave notes to a very few people, all younger dancers (by which i mean in their teens or even below), and perhaps a few adults but not many that i saw.

i am not the kind of person who is going to get attention as an "up and comer." i know that, as i go more, i will start to be a regular and hopefully this will do something but i am also sure that a fair number of people take this class regularly.

how do you approach a class that is given more than taught? how do you keep improving in a correct and thoughtful way? how do you grow your dancing? i am looking for encouragement -- that was intimidating! -- but also advice.

take care, everyone!

Author:  Joanne [ Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:21 am ]
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Well ari I think as well as this class you need to look for another class that is smaller and where you can get some attention. There is no way in a class of 40 that the teacher can see and correct everyone so i would take this class more for exercise and to maintain and work on some tips you are perhaps given in a smaller class.

Use this class as a way to thing about use of space. Also take on board every general correction the teacher gives whether it is aimed at you or not.

In many cities you will find that the larger studios do have very full classes - Pineapple is an example in London where I am from. These classes do have their regualrs but they also have a lot of drop-ins who take class when they can and vary who they go to to get different experiences etc. This can work well for professional or pre-professional dancers who want expereince of different styles and methods of working but not so good for less experienced dancers.

Author:  Gina Ness [ Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:32 pm ]
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Hi ari...How exciting that you are able to take classes in New York! Like Joanne mentions, it would also be good for you to find a smaller class (if possible) where you will receive a bit more individual attention. But, don't be intimidated by those big classes. They can be wonderfully fun, inspiring, and energizing! You have many dancers to watch and learn from in this environment. Soak it up like a sponge! I learned so much by watching other dancers in class. Listen to all corrections. They are for you, too!

Author:  Beth Kurtz [ Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:45 pm ]
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Ari, I received my whole training here in New York, and know exactly where you're at. Please believe that I speak not only from self-interest in what I'm going to say.

Look for a private technical coach, that you can work with once a week or once every 2 weeks.

In New York, the classroom is the place where you go to practice what you've learned in your private lessons, and the place from which you bring your problems to your private coach for special attention.

Believe me, I spent 11 years banging my head against the wall in NY classes before I met my wonderful, late, great teacher, Byron Mitchell. It was because of him that I could move on. I firmly believe that in this town, there is no other way.

Author:  Lucy [ Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

I would advise finding a class with a smaller enrollment. You did not say what level you were. I have some ideas for smaller classes with teachers I am very familiar with. Jack Hertzog teaches a great adult class. I took it when off season from my company. Antoinette Peloso also a great choice. They tend to have smaller classes and do pay the attention you are used to.

I think if you find a teacher who has a smaller class you will be fine and not have to pay for a private teacher.

Author:  ari [ Tue Jul 18, 2006 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  .

thanks, everyone!

level-wise i am at that awkward place where i have had a lot more experience than my body is currently capable of reproducing; i'm in acceptable dance shape, but i haven't done ballet in a long time or taken a lot of disciplined classes, so my technical endurance is down, as are my turnout muscles, etc. i've been taking beginner classes and i am keeping up just fine; part of it is that, the classes i have been in, there just aren't notes in general to the class -- there are notes given to individual students, but that's it.

i wish i could afford personal coaching. i probably could -- i mean, realistically, that maybe equals 3 classes or something, not so bad -- but i want to get myself up a little further in technique before i start on that kind of attention. i would take a recommendation, but it also needs to be someone who will not take one look at me (i'm fat -- not "oh god i need to lose 10 lbs" fat but bona fide fat) and dismiss me out of hand.

lucy, i would love class recommendations, although i think at this pt i am still looking at beginner-level classes.

Author:  Beth Kurtz [ Tue Jul 18, 2006 5:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ari, try Kat Wildish at Broadway Dance Center. She is terrific -- I send all my private students to her. And I think she has a beginner level class. Another possibility is Peter Schabel at the same place. And you might try New York Theater Dance on the East Side. I'm pretty sure their classes are quite small.

Author:  Dean Speer [ Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:54 am ]
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It may seem scary at first, but move to the front of the class! Some teachers do insist on students trading lines (I'm one of them) but many do not, and it's easy to get lost or feel like you're hiding in the back.

Also, as you become a regular, seek out the teacher to speak with. Let him/her know you're serious, happy to be back in class, and would appreciate them giving you feedback and comments.

Sometimes, we have to give the teacher "permission" to correct us. I know from my own experience, some adults do NOT like attention of just about any kind in class, so unless the teacher can read minds, sometimes they just give "lite" and general comments. But letting them know you want more, tells them that! :D

Author:  ari [ Fri Aug 11, 2006 9:38 am ]
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I just wanted to say that Kat Wildish's class at BDC was fantastic. So smart and she is hilarious and amazing. I am a fan! It was a hard class, but I can tell that it'll be a good one.

Thanks, everyone, for your support -- Dean, esp. with the go to the front business. It takes chutzpah! Oy vey!

Author:  Joanne [ Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:43 am ]
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Ari - that's fabulous that you have found a class that suits your need and great that it was through a recommendation on this site.

Hope you continue to progress at the level you wish.

Author:  Beth Kurtz [ Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:16 am ]
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Ari, good for you! I am thrilled, and know Kat will help you a lot. Keep us posted.

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