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 Post subject: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2000 11:22 pm 
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A New Zealand ballet teacher, Marian McDermott, reports disturbing results about teaching methods from a survey of ballet schools:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>There were 55,000 ballet students in New Zealand, yet the Royal New Zealand Ballet employed just 32 dancers, Ms McDermott said. <BR>It was unethical for teachers to continue bullying young girls they knew would never make it as professional dancers. <BR>The youngsters had more chance of winning Lotto. <BR>She said the negative and "oppressive" teaching methods employed by some were completely unacceptable in today's society.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR><A HREF="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=news&thesubsection=&storyID=154858" TARGET=_blank><B>Now read on</B></A> <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 4:13 am 
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ugh!

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 4:33 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 5:24 am 
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Hard to believe. Sounds like a bad movie script.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 7:52 am 
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ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (expanded)<P>also maybe 'duh' - like, as in, have we heard this before somewhere, do you think? is there any chance this teacher might be managing to grab the headlines (intentionally or otherwise) and make a name for herself by saying (only) things that have been said so many times before - maybe just not from new zealand......<P>and some of this stuff just sounds like what fiction writers used to put in 'girls' own' type ballet fantasy stories back in the 1950's.......<P>it ALMOST sounds like a HOAX!

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 12:14 pm 
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You guys have no idea how many bristles have risen in this country re this person. A few phone calls this morning and no one, who is worth knowing, has any idea who she is. Visiting the web - site below you will see people could send in papers which they would like to present at this conference. I feel inclined to e - mail the organisers and ask if anyone checked out Ms Mcdermotts credentials before accepting her paper.<P>In our daily paper about one third of the NZ Herald article was printed. As I was about to go to teach I put it aside until this morning.<P>The web site of "Dance and Child International Conference 2000" is<BR> <A HREF="http://education.uregina.ca/daci/daci.html" TARGET=_blank>http://education.uregina.ca/daci/daci.html</A> <P>Perhaps Rabbit could enlighten us as this conference was held in Canada. She may have access to reports publised there.<P>Any interesting fact has come to light - out, of the 55,000 ballet students in NZ, Ms Mcdermott interviewed 45. We could all find 45 students to interview in order to slant research findings in a particular way.<P>It must also be said Matz Scoog may not have disputed the survey's findings, but, the article did not say he agreed with them either.<P>An interesting side thought is, a couple of months ago a documentary was shown about Auckland parents encouraging their children. The encouragement by the 6 parents ( 3 of which were 'ballet'parents who 90 % of the program focussed on) came across as bullying or child - abuse! The next day newspapers and radio talk shows critised the parents.<P>If you want to know what people here think<BR>go to <BR> <A HREF="http://www.stuff.co.nz" TARGET=_blank>www.stuff.co.nz</A> then search ballet<P>Grace - I believe this is someone wishing to be noticed - I bet her roll increases tremendously - unsuspecting parents will think she is the only one who knows what she is talking about<p>[This message has been edited by Tip_toes (edited October 11, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 1:44 pm 
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Well, I will say immediately that I don't know this person, and though I have been to New Zealand, I know nothing of the ballet situation in that country.<P>However, I have personally seen some very ruthless acts done by youngsters and their mothers - I guess we all have. In at least one case it did make me feel ambivalent about a student of mine undertaking a summer of intensive training in New York. As it turned out because of family problems she could not go - but I do remember feeling very ambivalent about it. <P>I think the problem as been around as long as people have been around and while I am not sure, whether this woman's facts and figures are exactly correct, perhaps it is not possible that solutions can be found to almost inevitable human behavior.<P>What has saddened me in the past, is when I have actually seen that the teacher is complicit in fostering unhealthy comparisons between students and enabling unhealthy competitiveness.<P>There was an article in Dance Magazine many years ago, that was an interview with Suki Schorer when she took over American School of Ballet. As I remember it, she was asked "What happens when you ask a student to turn out beyond their capacity and they are injured?" As I remember it her answer was to the effect (and I am paraphrasing here) - "too bad - that's the way it is." <P>Well, in my opinion, that is not the way the art form should be - it was not meant to mutilate - it was meant to illuminate.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited October 11, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 3:21 pm 
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thanks for the local update, tip-toes! i can certainly understand there being a lot of unhappy dance teachers in new zealand at present.<P>i agree, also, with your conclusions, re the lady's suspect motivation, and re her research methods - apparently...<P>here is an email i received this am from the new zealand dance mailing list. i have left their contact info on the bottom, in case any of you want to join it:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Auckland ballet teachers say Marian McDermott's study is misleading. <P>Backlash at ballet claims <P>12.10.2000 By LIBBY MIDDLEBROOK <BR>Auckland dance teachers will gather at an emergency meeting today to try to <BR>prevent the ballet business from losing its footing. <P>Tears and anger followed publicity yesterday about the alleged oppressive <BR>nature of the New Zealand ballet world. <P>Industry players are furious at a study by Torbay ballet teacher Marian <BR>McDermott which included findings that girls as young as 14 popped pills to <BR>stay thin and suffered feelings of worthlessness. <P>The study also cited incidents including a ruthless mother pushing her <BR>daughter's rival down stairs and splinters of glass being deliberately <BR>placed in the shoe of a young ballerina. <P>A group of Auckland ballet teachers were to meet at 10.30 this morning to <BR>discuss the study. <P>Jill Williams, who runs Proudfoot Ballet, rubbished the claims. <BR>"I'm furious. It's completely over the top and painting a very bad image of <BR>the industry. I don't know who Marian is and I've been teaching for 38 years." <P>Ms McDermott, who founded the Performing Arts School of New Zealand ballet <BR>programme, formally interviewed 40 students for the study. <P>====This message came from the NZ dance news mailing list===== <BR>===to subscribe/unsubscribe reply to this message with instructions==== <BR>====List maintainer is Raewyn Whyte - raewyn@url.co.nz=== <BR>==="A dance is worth 10,000 words" - <A HREF="http://url.co.nz/arts/dance.html" TARGET=_blank>http://url.co.nz/arts/dance.html</A> === <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 3:35 pm 
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The short extract that Stuart has printed above makes me wonder what this person believes is the purpose of dance training for young people? If the sole reason for attending dance classes is to become a professional performer, particularly in a ballet company, then the vast majority might as well pack up now and find something else to do. They may lack the physical aptitude that makes such a career choice possible, the focused motivation or, as is sadly now often the case, the financial backing to pursue an appropriate course of study. Whatever the reason they stand no chance of achieving the ultimate goal so why bother putting them through the rigours of dance training?<P>Well there are several reasons that occur to me and I am sure that many more can and will be added, so I will give a few and hope that we here can produce a substantive rebuttal to this assertion.<P>Dance is fun! We literally jump for joy, expressing emotional elation through movement. So ballet is a highly structured form of movement, but does that lessen the simple pleasure that can be gained from participating in class. Well maybe not some of the classes described but I hope and believe this is not universally true. However much my students learn or don’t learn in class I would feel that any session in which I had not seen them smile at least once was something of a failure.<P>Dance is a learning activity! Developing self-control, both physically and mentally and an ability to concentrate on specific tasks are skills that are not just applicable to dance, but transferable to a wide range of activities. And what better way to learn some of these things than through an activity that is enjoyable?<P>Dance is an art form! We are steeped in a miasma of cultural influences, most of which do very little to enrich us as human beings. I would argue (and here I am taking a personal stand) that exposure to the arts is a vital, though sadly too often absent, aspect of education. There are intellectual and emotional benefits to be gained from understanding and appreciating an art form that do not depend on having to be a professional artist. However to do this it is necessary to learn something about the art form and, again, what better place to do this than in the dance class. To draw from a previous discussion, we should educate our students to understand and appreciate their art form, not just train them to perform a series of movements.<P>Sadly abuse always seems to be with us. As a teacher I have, to put it mildly, no regard for the people who perpetrate the practices that have been described. Yet I do not feel we should resign ourselves to a council of despair. Rather by setting an example in our own teaching and disseminating our knowledge through media like this we can hope to influence in some small way the rest of the dance world, looking forward to seeing a day when such reports no longer mar the status of our profession.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2000 4:40 pm 
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agree with everything there, tuk, and glad to see your post. this is an especially nice sentiment, which is an attitude some of us may have, without even gbeing conscoous of it:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>any session in which I had not<BR>seen them smile at least once was something of a failure.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>thanks! Image

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2000 8:02 pm 
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the latest from new zealand:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>Teachers want apology if ballet claims refuted </B><BR>13.10.2000 By LIBBY MIDDLEBROOK<BR> <BR>Ballet teachers want a public apology from Marian McDermott if her survey highlighting bullying in ballet is proven wrong. <P>Most of Auckland's ballet teachers met at an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the Torbay woman's survey, which attracted wide media attention this week.<P> Ms McDermott, a dance teacher for 12 years, surveyed 40 students and found that oppressive teaching methods were still used in ballet schools throughout the country.<P>Some respondents said classes were "tormenting" and the competition was so cut-throat that some girls would pop pills to control their weight. The survey also uncovered an incident in which a mother pushed her daughter's rival down a flight of stairs. <P>More than 20 teachers gathered in Greenlane to discuss the survey and decide how to deal with the publicity. The teachers did not accept Ms McDermott's findings and are considering seeking legal advice as to the validity of the survey, which was presented last month at an international dance conference in Canada. <P>Options discussed yesterday included undertaking a large random survey of dancers and teachers, completed through the "proper channels," covering similar issues. If the results disproved Ms McDermott's study, the group will demand a public apology from her for damaging the ballet industry.<P>"I've been teaching for 49 years and I've never heard of anything like what is in the survey," said Valerie Murray, who criticised the media for highlighting the negative survey results. Many of the teachers said they were unaware of the study or that they could have taken part. They want more information on how it was conducted.<P>Ms McDermott told the Herald that she would never apologise. "I'm not going to back down because I believe this is a big enough issue that needs to be addressed. The people I've surveyed are not liars." <P>She said ballet teachers had plenty of opportunity to take part in the survey as she had publicised it at least three times in dance magazines in a bid to get volunteers. She had also written a lead article for a publication explaining the survey.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2000 10:12 pm 
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I have done some enquiring of teachers in Canada to see if any one had heard of the<BR>conference mentioned in the article. Thus far no one that I asked has. The conference I believe was not based on dance but on children in general thus Miss Mcdermott has not recieved a great deal of publicity at our end.<P>Thought I would include a couple of the comments I recieved upon making my enquiries;<P>Donna : Ballet teacher in Victoria B.C. Canada.<P>" I am not sure if this conference was specifically for ballet people or whether it was a conference just about children in general with this as an example of exploitation of same. I have not seen any<BR>articles in any of the periodicals pertaining to this woman or her findings,<P>Sounds to me to be an extreme exaggeration of a problem that we all know<BR>exists in various shades in any of the pursuits where body type and<BR>competition prevail to an unhealthy level."<P>Renate' : Ballet teacher in Toronto Ontario Canada<P>"never heard of this person and I have heard alot of abuse stories....being<BR>aware of practises at both RWB and NBS. But nothing I have heard of<BR>compares to any of the subjects conveyed in this message"<P>Jane: Australia<P>" I guess I too have heard these sort of stories and I do applaud<BR>anyone for tackling the 'stage mom' issue BUT the same abuse occurs in the<BR>same sort of minority numbers here in Aust. with sports. We are a sporting<BR>mad nation so many parents want their kids to be big football (or soccer,<BR>basketball etc) stars. Any Saturday here we can go to the local oval, see a<BR>children's game of football and I can almost guarantee the side-lines will<BR>have at least one parent yelling out .....'get in their harder.......hit<BR>him.......your pathetic for missing that......etc. I'm sure you get the<BR>picture."<P>I will keep on looking to see if I can find out any more on the conference and how this particular subject was recieved.<P>

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2000 10:28 pm 
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thanks rabbit! i believe the conference was for/by daci - dance and the child (not sure what the 'i' stands for - maybe 'international'). they rae a well-established international body.<P>i'll see if i can find their website, to put up here.<P>also just as info, i have discovered that this woman, marion mcdernmott, is a university-qualified primary school teacher, as well as a ballet teacher, and that this thesis was part of her submission for a higher degree. more than that, i do not know at this point. i believe she teaches in the recreational dance sector, rather than the pre-professional one. i don't know where she got her research subjects from.

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2000 10:44 pm 
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OK, here is daci's conference 2000 site:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.uregina.ca/educ/daci/" TARGET=_blank>http://www.uregina.ca/educ/daci/</A> <P>the conference was held in regina, saskatchewan, canada between july 30 & august 5.<P>the website appears newish, and regrettably sketchy...<P>however, what is the most striking thing there, is the way this extremely negative informtion from the newspapers, was presented in exactly the opposite fashion at the conference: how very odd...<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>"The Benefits of a Positive Teaching Approach in the Ballet Class" </B> <I>Marian McDermott New Zealand</I><P><B>Marian will demonstrate her innovative and positive teaching approach that focuses on communicating ideas about technique and performance in pro-active and meaningful ways, which is entirely relevant for all forms of teaching.</B> <P>Case studies will be presented of a range of individual dancer experiences in both positive and negative class environments with the long and short-term outcomes compared and discussed. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>unlike some of the other presenters, ms. mcdermott's biography statement is just a repetition of the above lecture outline - no resumé content at all.<P>other speakers included ann hutchinson guest, ann green gilbert, & susan graham (also from NZ, who i know). <P>the conference looks like it would have been very stimulating indeed. shame we didn't catch anything about it in the canadian papers.<p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited October 13, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Teaching Methods in NZ?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2000 3:35 am 
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tip-toes, thankyou so much for your links above, which i read and forgot to go to! (sorry!)<P>now that i have, i can link us to the following items of news coverage of this story in NZ papers. i will extract those portions from stories which seem to add any new information:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Some respondents in her study made positive comments, but a<BR> significant number reported being plagued by feelings of<BR> worthlessness, fear of failure and insecurity about their looks.<P> One described ballet classes as "despairing" and "tormenting"<BR> and said teachers and mothers pushed too hard.<P> "I was so nervous and scared before my exams my mother<BR> gave me a shot of brandy and half a Valium tablet to relax<BR> me," one said.<P> - - - Asked to recall their worst ballet experience, one said:<BR> "Soaking my bleeding feet in meths after going on pointe."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>and <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>She also wants the formal exam system overhauled so that it<BR> better caters for the average student. Exams encourage only<BR> the very best ballerinas - a select few - and don't cater for<BR> anyone else. Her students don't sit any for that reason, she<BR> says.<P>"What about the child who comes to ballet unco-ordinated,<BR> unable to skip or gallop, but after much perseverance learns to<BR> perform these things, shouldn't we recognise them too?"<P> This contention has won some support from Royal New Zealand<BR> Ballet general manager Sue Paterson, who agrees people<BR> should be able to study "for the pleasure of it" and shouldn't<BR> have to be trained to elite level.<P> "It's like any sport, you have the elite but you also need a<BR> groundswell of participation."<P> Ms Paterson says dancers' health is very important in the<BR> Royal New Zealand Ballet. A physiotherapist works with the<BR> dancers and an instructor runs an injury prevention<BR> programme.<P> "Training is structured so the dancers aren't flogged to death,"<BR> she says.<BR><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>gosh, there are so many points i could comment about, just in that excerpt....we might have to start multiple threads here!<P>

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