Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Out with the old, In with the new

Tonight was the first class with the new instructor. I have tons of work (the kind I get paid to do) to do tonight, so this will be comparatively brief, but I want to get some of this out while it's fresh.

The new instructor is officially the dance director for the studio. Her bio says she's been dancing for 8 years; she graduated from university with a degree in dance last year, and is just finishing up her teaching certificate. It's the scheduling conflict with her certificate work that's kept her from being our instructor until now.  If I got the story straight, she was hired to teach tap and convinced the studio to add ballet to the offerings.

Not surprisingly, her style is considerably different from that of the instructor we've been working with. Not so much her technique, which is also Cecchetti with a strong ABT influence, but with the way she teaches. She's more focused, with a definite plan for the class, which is both a plus and a minus. She started class by yakking away the first 15 minutes, which might be her way of getting to know her "new" students, but with only a 60 minute class I'd rather we got right to work.

Normally I'd say it's a good thing to use "understandable" descriptions rather than insider lingo, but I'm finding myself wishing for the "proper" terminology. Sometimes she used terms like enveloppé that drew blank looks from some, but other times she used descriptions like "standing crossed" meaning anything between 3rd and 5th position. She demonstrated a motion I didn't recognize -- the foot comes straight off the floor with the knee bending and ends up with the leg extended as in the end of a degagé, but without any sliding along the floor -- and without a proper name I don't know how to look it up.

I'm also not happy with the speed of her demonstrations, or her unrealistic expectation of our ability to pick it up. I'm going to chalk this up to lack of teaching experience. She's been teaching the adult tap classes and maybe a kids ballet class, but I expect this is her first adult ballet class. I guess we're going to have to break her in. I sort-of started already, asking for more walk-throughs of the center sequence she was trying to teach, and asking for explanations of steps I wasn't clean on.

After class two of the regulars had a pow-wow outside, which I joined after I changed clothes. They're distressed about the pace, and were wishing for more basics and less fancy stuff. I told them flat-out that standing out on the sidewalk wasn't going help; they needed to be talking with the instructor about it. We'll see if they do, or just continue to complain when no one is listening.

Don't take this to mean I thought she's a disaster. I'm an engineer by profession and analyze everything. I think she has potential, and she's clearly open to suggestions from students.

I have notes on the center sequence, which was kinda fun once I started to understand it, but I don't have time to write it up tonight.

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