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 Post subject: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2004 11:17 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 110
Location: USA (Midwest)
No sooner do I express my sympathy for dance teachers having to function like businesspeople when a few things popped up at our daughter's school that I'm really struggling to find a way to deal with. So, in order to help me do a reality check on my expectations, I'd like to ask if people can tell me what their schools' policies are on a few things.

1) When rehearsal schedules get changed, are students who aren't at the studio every day to see these notices get posted notified about the changes? And if so, how?

2) How often during the entire school year do students in the 11-12 year-old age-group perform at your school? And by "perform," I mean any appearance in public, including short performances at arts festivals and corporate Christmas parties, which are deemed to be "good advertising for the school."

3) Following off question #2, if a public performance is scheduled, are the parents of the students who would be performing notified about it before the performance is scheduled? In other words, does the school wait to obtain their permission before making these commitments?

thanks for any and all feedback!


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2004 1:14 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Utah
Our school is very small. This is how we handle the issues your asking about.

1) Make phone calls if the student is not scheduled to be back in the studio and needs notice before then (the event is ocurring in the time the student is away from the studio). We post a calendar in studio and try to give as much time notice as possible.
2) Depends on the class. Usually 1-2 per year
3) We do not check with all parents before scheduling. But, the parents are notified at the beginning of the year that there will be scheduled performances during the year. They are not forced to perform. Most parents prefer their child perform, so they'll make every effort to make it work.


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 9:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
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Location: USA (Midwest)
thanks, cuda! I think our school qualifies as small also -- I'm guessing no more than 60 students, from ages 3-18. So it's been really frustrating dealing with some ongoing communication problems there. I've tried speaking with the director in a "what can we together do to find a solution?" sort of way. But all I get is a song-and-dance routine about how I need to be more sympathetic about the personal problems he's dealing with.

We drive 45 minutes to get to the studio, so when things get cancelled and we aren't notified, that's tough. Yesterday we left two phone messages, asking to confirm the rehearsal schedule. Nobody called us back, so I ended up enlisting the help of another mom whom I knew would be headed down there earlier than we were, and she found the information out for me.

I really don't think we're being unreasonable, but these ongoing administrative problems are making it really, really hard on everyone. Plus, I think the performance demands are taking away too much time from the actual learning. By the time we get to Christmas this school year, some kids will have performed in two major productions and two minor (with my daughter, it'll be two major and one minor). And we're paying for class time that's getting converted to rehearsal time to accommodate these performances. As I've said in other posts, it's the quality of the teaching that we're hanging in there for. But all the other stuff is getting burdensome.

thanks for letting me vent! :(


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 3:16 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
I absolutely agree, the kids are performing too much. What you've paid for not withstanding, it takes away from the quality of the instruction. Schools should be about teaching ballet in ballet class; performances should really be optional. The school needs to keep this distinction in mind. Their "reputation" is their problem, not yours.

Logistical chaos is more common than anyone would like to admit in ballet. I'm not saying it's acceptable --- just common. Artists are not always the most organized. Our school has a school coordinator who schedules classes and rehearsals, notifies parents, etc --- including telling the Artistic Director when he needs to be at rehearsals. It is an essential part of the job of running a school.


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 3:38 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sacramento, CA USA
1] Usually a listing of all the parent's emails are used to send out a quick message if there are any changes. Few people these days lack email and most ignore their answering machine anyway.

2] Public performances like at auto shows and corporate parties I don't like personally. There are quite a few schools in Sacramento up for bid to lease out dance talent and in addition to that practice for dance competitions. Mostly hip hop jazz but some ballet, these companies never put on a classic what they would call 'boring' show, but go for flash and costume flair to attract more people to use their... 'services'? I'm against it mostly because young girls like this shouldn't be sold out to 'dance' for events where older men will be staring. It seems strange to me. I'm mostly against most hip hop dance in reguards to young girls as well... but no offense to the young hip hopers here.

3] Usually public events like a scene from an upcoming ballet performance at a mall or something is done by 'tryouts' from the various casts that will be performing the ballet. This seems to be the norm at the studios I've been a part of because the 'tryouts' is mostly the parents talking to the staff about the event behind the scenes and those 'chosen' were actually just 'allowed' by their parents. Kind of a curtain over just a bland Q&A with the parents and kids, but seems to keep the energy that 'yay! they made it into the cast to go perform at the auto mall!' etc etc


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
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Location: USA (Midwest)
thanks again for the feedback. It's good to hear that the common sensical solutions that we think would be appropriate are what other places do. Unfortunately we're dealing with some folks who almost seem to take pride in being technologically deficient. It's been made clear to us that using the Internet, either on the school's rarely-updated site or via email, is not an option -- and that having to remember to call the dancers is a huge imposition. I am at wit's end.

And it's good also to hear that our instincts about too much performing may also be correct. We may regretfully pull our daughter from the upcoming performances that the school committed her to. For the major one, we were promised 6 weeks of Friday and Saturday only rehearsals. The first week, she had Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and for the second week, we just found out she's slated for Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat. Everytime we think it can't possibly get worse, it does.


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:26 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: New England
Sounds like it's time to pull your kid.

By the way, why do you believe this place has quality instruction? Everything you're saying makes me suspect the dance training is anything BUT quality.


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 12:26 pm 
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Location: USA (Midwest)
Trust me, citibob, we're asking ourselves the same thing right now. What we do know is that what goes on in the studio when it's time for technique classes appears to be very solid. We came from a "bad Vaganova" situation previously and have been very pleased with the progress that our daughter has made at this school (and the damage that's been undone). However, all these other issues are making us question how much longer we can continue there.

I think it's likely we will pull her from the Nutcracker (I just found out via the parent grapevine today that another performance has been added in a town two hours' drive from here: again, no formal announcement and it's on a school night).

Then we'll sit tight for the rest of the year: She has a superb teacher at her level who manages to stay out of the political fray. We'll request changes, but if they don't occur, we'll try to find somewhere else for next year. The big problem with where we live is that the biggest and best funded school currently favors an experimental training method which has produced no professional talent in 8 years. A new director has just come on board there, but no changes have been made yet. So we're watching and waiting and hoping.

thank you for the "reality-check validation"!


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 678
Location: Petaluma, California
If you feel the training is good at this school, I'd stick with it. My first school (until age 15) was a bit chaotic like this...We did a lot of performing. We toured all over Northern California and performed on a regular basis all year long! I did a five-week bus tour when I was 10! So you can see, I had an amazing childhood with dance...I LOVED it! This school produced dancers who went on to dance with the Royal Ballet, Stuttgart, ABT, SFB, Royal Winnipeg, and so on...I feel that all the rehearsing and performing (in addition to my regular classes) was invaluable. This is just a different perspective to consider...


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 12:16 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 678
Location: Petaluma, California
Hi JaneH...It's later in the day, and I thought maybe I might respond to your original thoughts. The school I teach for is also not large, although there are more students than your daughter's school (quite a few younger ones).

1) We try to notify by phone if there is a change. The parents and students know that their rehearsals will generally be scheduled after their technique classes and on Saturdays. We will post the schedule a week in advance and try to stick to it. If there is a change, we understand that a student might not on short notice be able to make it and do not hold it against them.

2) Our school usually does one major production per year, but we will schedule other opportunities to perform(like our opportunity for the past few years of "guesting" with a larger, professional production's Nutcracker for one dance, or an appearance at, for example, a nursing home or an arts-in-the-community type of event). It would be great to do more, but it is expensive to mount productions (even student ones) as you can well imagine.

3) We notify parents and students regarding any upcoming performance opportunities. They are not required to participate unless they want to, but mostly they do wish to perform. In fact, for anything that is a major time commitment on the part of the students and parents, we ask them to sign a "contract" stating everything that is expected of them so there can be no missunderstandings of what is required. We have found this to be very helpful for parents who don't realize that theatre is a lot of work...

Sometimes it is difficult for smaller schools to be able to have the quality of administration that a larger school will have. They simply don't have the manpower or money.

<small>[ 09 November 2004, 01:23 AM: Message edited by: GN ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2004 5:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 110
Location: USA (Midwest)
thanks, GN, for both your posts. It's good to hear that good training was still possible with a performing schedule like the one you described, although it's been my observation so far that the kids usually have a wonderful time, no matter what the chaos. It's we poor parents who suffer most when an organization can't get its act together.

To add a small but positive footnote, we got our daughter's rehearsal schedule reduced to what it was supposed to be originally, and neither does she have to perform in the school-night show which was just added. I think this school doesn't utilize the contract concept for big productions(which we also experienced at a previous school) because they probably don't want all the parents holding them to their word!


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 2:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 110
Location: USA (Midwest)
GN, by any chance, are you from Australia? As I was thinking about it, the performing tour you described sounds like what we encountered when we were living there earlier this year.


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 4:41 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 678
Location: Petaluma, California
Hi JaneH...I'm a native San Franciscan. I danced professionally with San Francisco Ballet during the 70s and 80s. The youth company I performed with (and did we perform!) was Merriem Lanova's "Ballet Celeste" in S.F. I was dancing in Swan Lake at age 8! She always used four of her strongest youngsters to dance the "pas de Quatre" in the 2nd act...


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 110
Location: USA (Midwest)
Cool! Even if things were somewhat chaotic at your school growing up, you obviously had the advantage of inspiring leadership. Would you say the atmosphere there tended more toward optimistically chaotic or pessimistically chaotic? We've got the latter, and I find that makes it so much harder to muster up the continued motivation.

I fear, in fact, we're in the process of watching our daughter's current school implode. Other families are beginning to question how things are done and the directors' response is to refuse to consider change or even meet with the parents, most of whom are sincerely trying to save the place. It's not looking good. :(


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 Post subject: Re: rehearsal and performances policies at schools
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2004 7:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
The atmosphere at my company (and attached school) is optimistically chaotic. The chaos you describe sounds familiar to me, but not much else.

<small>[ 11 November 2004, 08:31 PM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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