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 Post subject: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 10:02 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 76
Location: BC , Canada
<BR>What does a teacher do when handed the gift of a child made to dance?<P>Recently I have reason to ask this question. In my studio came a young exceptionally gifted student, Oh yes lucky me, however this child is 4 yrs old & enrolled in my creative movement program for the second year. <P>So you are probably wondering what is it about her that makes me claim she is gifted at 4 yrs old. That is simple...she is bright and full hunger to learn more, I could swear I was talking to a 10 yr old if I closed my eyes. Secondly she came to me already stretched out without a day of dance behind her, She stretches her feet, she holds her body correctly, her movement is clean, neat & precise. Thus far she is simply doing skips, pony gallops & side gallops but she does them as if she has been dancing for years. Due to her age and my convictions I will not teach her more.<P>My dilemma; I fear that such a bright & talented child will soon become bored and loose interest. As I said she is in creative movement so there are a lot of free movement and imagination games that seem to satisfy her, however she asks how to do more advanced movement so I am aware there is a strong desire in her to learn more. So far she accepts my answer that she is not yet big enough or strong enough to go beyond what she is now doing....(although I believe she could be doing a little more than I am allowing now).<P>So how would you approach this problem? SO far I am stuck between the fear she will become bored and loose interest & the fear that giving her more to do will be potentially damaging.<P>Very interested in hearing some objective points of veiw.

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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 2:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>you are probably wondering what is it about her that makes me claim she is gifted<BR> at 4 yrs old.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>no - i'm not wondering. i've seen it - extraordinary, isn't it? this particular child, who is the student of a friend of mine, has SUCH a subtle musicality - possibly better than i have ever seen even in the world's best professional dancers - i know: you can't believe that! - "just hyperbole" - well, think what you like! i know what i saw! Image - i was examining her: everything was perfect - her age? i'm not sure - maybe 6....<P>technically correct throughout, complete confident memory of every step, smile and appropriate sincere enthusiastic presentation skills in evidence throughout, well-spoken, knew the french theory, and then on top of all that: the musicality: beautiful!<P>btw, both her parents are musicians! Image<P>i guess, now that you've raised this question, all i can think is how lucky i am that i'm NOT teaching her - because as you say it is a big responsibility - even more so when the child is even younger, and has so many more years to 'go wrong', as it were! Image<P>my friend who IS teaching her is in her fifties, a wise woman, and i've never discussed this with her. i don't get the impression she is daunted....but then, she has so many years of experience to give her her very quiet confidence.<P>if she was online, i'd ask her to join in - you have raised an excellent point, and maybe antoP has some direct experience with this age group and this issue......

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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2000 9:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Sorry, I don't have any advice for you. I just wanted to say -- WOW, 4 years old!!! I am still in disbelief! It's so amazing to watch a person who is simply very naturally gifted. One thing I've discovered in dance -- body awareness for most of us (if we're lucky) simply takes time and maturity and a lot of hard work. Those who have it at a young age, plus the desire, body, and talent, are very fortunate!


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 4:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: Pa, USA
I think that this is where another aspect of dance comes into play. Obviously you don't want to give her more than she is physically ready for, but you can give her more mentally. Suggestions for age-appropriate reading (by mom if necessary) to the child about dance related topics is always helpful. In addition for my younger students who can't seem to wait for more I suggest to the parents music lessons, (piano or recorder) something that will help them later with their musicality overall in dance and will also expose them to another art form as a compliment to their dance lessons.


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 5:31 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1689
Location: USA
I agree, Jan. What I might do, in addition, is give the child opportunities to use her imagination within the context, technical and otherwise, of what she is being taught. I'm not referring to the free movment, imagination games mentioned. in one instance, When she asks for more advanced work, have her use her imagination to develop what she is working on, whether it is the progression of a step or movement, or a choreographic sequence. Tailored to her mental abilities, of course. This would work best in a small group, or one on one if possible. Sometimes I've found when a very young person wants more, it doesn't mean more "stuff" but assistance, or guidance to help them create, or discover more within the work they are doing. They wouldn't know this, of course.


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2000 5:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Australia
gosh - we're all so clever here! Image -genuine enthusiasm, not sarcasm - please don't misunderstand!<P>brilliant advice from both of you.<P>music lessons - real smart. maggie, NOT just more "stuff" - gotcha! Image

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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 7:18 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA USA
Maggie, I love your observation:<P>"Sometimes I've found when a very young person wants more, it doesn't mean more "stuff" but assistance, or guidance to help them create, or discover more within the work they are doing."<P>At 24, I know I certainly crave this. More than anything else in ballet class, I want the instructor's guidance. And you're right, I don't necessarily want to learn a bunch more, harder steps, but would like to turn what I already know into real dancing. My favorite steps in ballet are the most basic ones. You can teach any person off the street to execute a tendu, but it takes practice and training to DANCE a tendu. And I have rarely encountered instructors who have truly shown me how to use my body to dance ballet rather than just 'do' ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 7:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 70
Location: New Zealand
K 8. I am really interested in your last sentence ;<P>"I have rarely encountered instructors who have truly shown me how to use my body to dance ballet rather than just 'do' ballet".<P>When someone has shown you how to 'dance' how have they approached this in their teaching?. In what way have they been able to get the message across to you and also having that message 'played back' to them in your performance?.<P><I> Tip_Toes & K8: I have copied this question into another (new) thread, so that it does not get lost. Please see <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000137.html</I>" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000137.html</I></A> Image<p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited September 29, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2000 10:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 34
Location: italy
Rabbit, I've a story to tell you. Six or seven years ago I had a child who was absolutely perfect for ballet. She was 4 or 5 y/o. She was beautiful, gifted, musical. Every time I taught a new step, she could do it as if she had already seen it. It seemed as if I had nothing to teach her. I was absolutely astonished. I talked to her mother (I didn't say anything to her) after a year of study and told her that her daughter was very gifted but we had to wait until she grew up as very often the body changes and a perfectly turned out child can turn in in her teens without we can do anything. During these years I kept on teaching her as I taught to her classmates with the difference that I was always stricter with her than with the others to assess her real involvement in ballet and to keep the expectations high. She was always involved, everything for her was pure joy, at the end of the lesson she was always sad because she'd have liked to go on. I knew that ballet was her life. This year (she's 11 y/o) I took her to La Scala in Milan to try the exam of admission for the school. I wanted to know whether I was right or not. I was right, she passed the two exams and she was happy, I was happy but... her mother wasn't. She didn't want leave her alone in a big town (we live far from Milan) and she preferred not to send her to the school. We missed a big opportunity for her. Now the child is very sad and has suffered her first (big) frustration. I feel SOOOO responsible for this! She'll attend my school five days a week to keep trained and I'm in contact with other teachers who can help her in the future (above all she's only 11 and she has plenty of time to become a professional dancer) . Now that I feel this big responsibility on my shoulders I'll do everything I can to help my student as I know that she'll be happy only if she becomes a dancer.<P>The moral of the story is, IMO, you don't have to push your child too much because even if she's more mature than her age, she's always 4 and I wouldn't give her much more training than that she's having now. If she's really gifted for ballet, she'll never get bored, whatever she's doing. I wouldn't, for example, allow her to attend classes more than twice a week. It could be too much heavy for her. I don't know what method of teaching you use, I find that RAD can give a valid support to develop a techincal study. In addiction, it gives the opportunity to sustain the exams which are another way to assess your student. Of course every other method would suit as well.<BR>I suggest you wait patiently without worrying too much or without feeling the burden of responsibility now. Give her (and you) time. Hope this makes sense. Sorry for this long (maybe boring) reply. And forgive me for my mistakes (if I could have written in Italian, my reply would have been much longer ! Image) antoP.<p>[This message has been edited by antoP (edited September 28, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2000 1:09 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 28
Location: San Diego, California, USA
A child walks in the door - and you find yourself gasping - "If I were GOD and made a dancer - this is what the dancer would be like!!!" I guess we have all had that experience - the Mozart syndrome. As several of you have said, you can't push the child beyond the age at which she is - a 4 yr old is still a 4 yr old. As much as she is different from her peers, she also needs to be with her peers. I think that music lessons are a great idea. Suggesting to her parents attending appropriate performances is great. I also had many ballet picture books (not illustrations - but real life photographs) of ballerinas that I would share. Sometimes when we learned a step I would find that same step in a picture of a ballerina in costume and the children (including the little prodigy) would be thrilled they were doing the same thing as this famous ballerina. When I wrote a note (like a thank you note) to the child/parents I would make a copy of a particularly beautiful picture of a ballerina and use this as my stationary. As for class work - her body can't be pushed - it's still 4 yrs old, but her mind can be engaged. She can pretend things and I often found that this encouraged the rest of the class and they came along for the ride, too. Basheva


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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2000 3:01 pm 
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Location: Australia
"the Mozart syndrome" = great phrase! Image<P>welcome, Orzak! we're so pleased to 'meet' you. Image<p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited September 28, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: The gifted but young student
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2000 8:05 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 76
Location: BC , Canada
Thank you all so much for the wonderful advice & for sharing your own stories. You have helped to settle my mind and calm my heart.<P>I love the idea of music lessons, also I have a number of little things around the studio to encourage this child, A ballerina Paper doll book & some coloring books.<P>I feel so much better, thank you.

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