How to Talk to Your Ballet Teacher

Sometimes, dancers are afraid to speak to their teachers or choreographers about sensitive matters, such as a part they were hoping for in a dance piece. Whenever there is casting for a part, weather it is in a small piece or a story ballet, hurt feelings always follows. But the next time you feel your heart sink into your stomach if you are not chosen for a part you were hoping for, don’t follow your first reaction right away. Instead, speak to your teacher or choreographer privately. Below are a few simple tips to of talking to your teacher or choreographer. It could mean the difference for you between a snowflake or the Snow Queen., a peasant or the Princess…….

The only thing worse than having to talk with your teacher is not talking with them. You may hear others tell you to put your feelings aside, bottle them up, not complain, and act like a good role model of a dancer, but this advice won’t help your dancing or where you would like to be in the future. If you approach your teacher the right way, you’ll end up not only having a better relationship with her, but you’ll also get rid of bottled-up feelings that can get in the way of your dancing. Don’t freak out and build up anxiety about meeting with your teacher or choreographer. Remember that every teacher was a dancer once too, and probably knows just what you’re going through! There’s no need to be nervous, they are there to help you succeed and a one-on-one talk with either of them should be a positive experience.

When setting up a time to talk privately with your teacher, make sure that you don’t react in an emotional way. Requesting a meeting angrily and stomping your feet won’t get you what you want. Plus, it will make you look immature and unprepared to handle the duties of being a lead dancer, which includes most importantly being a role model to younger students.

As you first approach your teacher, do so in a calm, polite, and inquisitive way. Go to your them after class and say something pleasant that will make your point without offending anyone. For example: “ I was just wondering when would be a good time to talk to you about some things I had on my mind in ballet. When do you think we can have a talk?” This comes across a lot better than: “I cannot believe you cast her in that part and not me! We have to talk right now, or I’m leaving.”

One of the most important things you can ask is…. How can I improve? If you didn’t get the part you wanted, don’t tell your it was a bad decision or that you’re a better dancer. These statements come across as arrogant and rude. Instead, ask what you can do to improve your dancing, and ask what qualities the lead dancer possesses that you can work on . This can be a great opportunity to get some one-on-one advice from your her.

Ask about specific things you can work on; it can be something technical or artistic ? Can it be an issue about classroom etiquette or attendance? Make sure to ask for ways to improve, such as exercises or private lessons. This tells your teacher that you’re honestly interested in improving, not just in getting a better part.

Most of all, never trash another dancer who got a part you thought you deserved. This will tell your teacher you lack the basic etiquette and humility required of a lead dancer. Instead, use the opportunity to ask what the other dancer does well. This is an opportunity for you to find out what made the other dancer more suited for that part, and how you can accomplish that, too. For example, if your teacher explains that another dancer has better extensions, and those are required for the part, ask what makes her extensions so high and how you can get yours to look more like hers. If it’s about stage presence, ask what would make you able to have more of it, and what qualities that part requires. This will help you to better understand what you need to do to get the parts you want.

After you talk with your teacher, make sure to show in every class that you heard you’re her words and are taking them to heart. What makes a great dancer is not the ability to do quadruple pirouettes, but the ability to take corrections and apply them quickly and seriously. By demonstrating hard work and consistent improvement in class you send a message to your teacher that you’re listening and ready to work as hard as you can.

In a previous post we talked about keeping a dance journal. You should always keep one to take note of your corrections, feelings, and progress. Bring this with you to your meeting and write down everything your teacher says. This will help you remember what you need to work on, and also show your teacher the dedication you have to ballet.

Even if you didn’t get the part you wanted in the show, be glad to have a part, and make the most of it. You may think that no one cares about the snowflake or the peasant in the last row, but your teacher will notice your performance, and the hard work you put into your part will show on stage. If you dance your hardest you will demonstrate a good attitude and the ability to work hard in any position, and that is what will get you noticed.

Remember, most importantly, love dance….It’s not easy to miss out on a part you wanted, but don’t let it take away from the joy of ballet. Keep dancing and working hard.

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