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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: New England
I'm not talking about a long professional dance career, that is not necessary in my opinion. But I think that dancing for a company for a year or two, or even just as an apprentice, really helps put things in perspective, and that cannot help but affect the way you teach.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 2:27 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Well luckily I am not easily offended - but if I was to take some opinions to heart I would have to give up my teaching career now. :( I have never danced professionally it was never something I wanted to do - there are too many good dancers out there who really want to dance professionally without having someone who only wants to teach struggling to find a way in so that they can gain "experience".

I only ever wanted to teach. Why? because from a fairly young age I realised I was good at it. I could relate well to students of all ages and found that I could make a difference, help them improve and reach their potential. I am not the best teacher in the world but I do not claim to know everything and i am always striving to improve myself as a teacher and do not rest on my laurels.

Anyone who teaches dance to all - i.e to students who are coming to primarily take dance as a hobby can't honestly say they could get a talented dancer to professional standard on their own. At some point they would need to let this student progress to full time study and before suggest they take their dance further i.e by auditioning for an associate programme perhaps. But what all teachers can do at a local level is ensure that all their students receive a solid grounding and achieve their own individual potential.

I have studied for years to become a good teacher, both in dance but also other related areas such as teaching methodology, effective lesson planning, class safety etc. I think that although I have never danced professionally I have become a good teacher through a combination of natural ability and through a desire to do my job better and better all the time.

There will be good and bad teachers, some of those will be ex professional dancers and some won't. I think it is quite an unfounded generalisation to say that only one category will make good teachers. I think most of us know of examples of good and bad in both category.

Teaching goes far beyond such a superficial level. What makes a good teacher is not as easy as just looking at someone's cv. It is one job where really the proof of the pudding is in the eating.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 9:46 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
Joanne, as you already know, I, for one, don't think that you shouldn't be teaching.

Joanne wrote:
What makes a good teacher is not as easy as just looking at someone's cv. It is one job where really the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I completely agree.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 3:45 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Thanks djb.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I think it is very damaging in this profession to make sweeping generalisations about who should and shouldn't be teaching. We always say to students that ask questions about their chances of becoming professional that in the end we can't give them a definitive answer as we haven't seen them dance. Surely you need to see a teacher teach before commenting on whether they are a good teacher or not?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:19 pm 
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Location: Australia
ditto joanne :)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:53 pm
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Location: USA
Now, Now people...
I meant no offense. I did not say that if you were never in a ballet company that you wern't a good teacher. That's not true, and if a student is doing ballet as a hobby, then it is certainly fine. But I still believe that to teach professionally, you must first dance professionally, even if for one year.
Perhaps I am biased because the teacher I mentioned earlier said she could take me to the professional level and after two years I was still doing everything facing the barre... in first!
I still think it was because she was never in a company that she didn't know what professional was.
But perhaps I did over generalize, and I am sorry if I caused any hurt.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:19 am 
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Ballerina 91 by the sounds of it you have had a very solid grounding and perhaps that is why you are doing so well now. Perception is a very funny thing. It seems that your first teacher said that you have the potential to become a professional dancer and that your current teacher says exactly the same, but yet you only believe the second one even though they have said exactly the same thing! Please don't think I am picking on you but I find it interesting.

I think we possibly need to define the term "professional teacher". Professional to me does not just mean someone who has danced professionally, it is more about how they conduct themselves, the way they pass knowledge on to students, their drive to be ever better. I have seen some ex professional dancers who behave appallingly as teachers, are patronising and generally make the students feel they are beneath them. I have also seen the same from people who haven't danced professionally.

Another point I would like to make is that there are some teachers who could have had a professional career but an injury or other circumstances meant that it was not to be. Should they be denied the chance to teach because of that?

It just saddens me that sometimes people will make sweeping assumptions without seeing the person in action first. There are good and bad teachers out there, some will have trained with exactly the same people. It really is not a profession that can be quantified on paper.

Ballerina91 it sounds like you have done the right thing for your own personal circumstances. You obviously did not have the same belief in your first teacher as you do in your current one and in that case you wouldn't have progressed as far as with your current teacher. But everyone is different and perhaps someone with a different perception would achieve different results with the first teacher. We will probably never know but all I would urge to any student is to try a class first before judging.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:57 pm 
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I don't mind you picking on me at all. You're not even picking on me: we are having a very interesting discussion.
First, let me say, that my old teacher was charging exorbitent (spelling?) rates per class, about $25 a class! It was a private teacher, and she didn't have many students. I am not saying this to deride her, but she did have something to lose if she said I couldn't be a professional dancer, because strange enough, I wouldn't do ballet unless I could have a career in it. I think that in itself means she was a little biased.
Again, she was never in a company and she didn't have alot of students, so what was she comparing me to? At least at the school I am going to now, the teacher can compare me to other students who have professional goals and also she can see if I have the qualities of dancers in the company she was in.
Plus, if your teacher danced with the same exact company you want to be in, you would stay with her too. My current teacher has a little to lose, yes, but she also picks on me alot more, instead of singing my praises like my old one did.
I agree: it's all in the way the teacher conducts themself, sure. My old teacher was picky; she had me do combinations over and gave me about ten things to work on per combination. But perhaps you are right. Maybe this did help me be the dancer I am today. Sometimes, I thank her for her strong emphasis on technique. But I am convinced that if I was still with her, I would still be doing plie in first facing the barre.
Dancers who were injured should by all means teach. But I don't think he or she should be your primary teacher. I still think the name helps in the competitive world of ballet.
I do think I did what was right in my position, but I think it is you who have made a sweeping assumption. I did put every effort into my classes. But discouragement is a weighty thing, especially when you see what some of your other ballet friends are doing and you don't even know full port de bras! I was a late starter to begin with, and she held me back even more.
Well, I am sick of whining, and you are probobly sick of hearing me. So I will just say that we should agree to disagree. But thanks for the lively discussion. Keep it coming if you have any more to say.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 7:03 pm 
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Oh, I see I made a contradiction when I said my current teacher picks on me alot more than my old one.
Both my old teacher and new teacher are picky, but in different ways. My old teacher scrutinized every little mistake I made during class, however she said I would have a career in ballet, no doubt about it.
My current teacher picks on me in class, but she also is not so convinced of my ability to be a professional dancer. She says with ballet careers, you can never be certain.
Just wanted to clear that up.


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