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To want to throttle my dd's dance teacher?

(16 Posts)
BalletMummy Tue 06-Jan-15 09:07:40

DD 9 attends a weekly dance class.

She has been dancing for nearly 4 years and although I say it myself she is pretty good, esp at ballet.

She has attended this particular class for just over 2 years and the teacher is very good at her job , however...

The lessons started at £6 for 45 minutes, but as my daughter progressed, she recommended 1 1/2 hour lessons at nearly £10 per session. I don't have a problem with that.

Then the exams; about £50 to £70 a time ( usually 1 ballet and I tap or free style)every few months. Rosettes and sashes are extra.

Before each exam we have to make a couple of 70 mile round trips for " master classes".

After the exams are the award ceremonies, again a 70 mile round trip and about £5 for each person attending.

A big show every couple of years, again 70 miles there and back. The rehearsal, with admission charges; yes I know there are overheads.

There are lot's of smaller shows in between which I choose not to go to as it means more sodding master classes, travelling and costumes.

Then I received an email to tell me my dd was to be appearing in another show this year, and would need X costume and the dance schools own Tshirt, not cheap. So that's £30 for costume, tickets about £30, a rehearsal ( probably with admission charge.

Also dd has been presented with a trophy for getting a distinction in her latest exam. I thought that was a lovely gesture until teacher said that if she wants to keep it after her next exam there will be a £10 charge.

I appreciate that this is a business but I'm sick and tired of her asking us to dig deeper and deeper into our pockets. Everything it seems comes with "extras"

I don't want my dd to give up dancing, but I feel as if I'm being conned.

manicinsomniac Tue 06-Jan-15 09:12:04

Sorry. It sucks but you're not being conned. Dance is just a really expensive hobby.

I have two addicts (though, it's my own fault, I was a dancer and got them into it) and it's probably the biggest outgoing I have!

Whatisaweekend Tue 06-Jan-15 09:12:19

It all sounds a bit much! Does the teacher follow a particular system? Ie is ballet cecchetti or RAD or whatever? I never heard of quite so many exams and certainly not awards ceremonies with trophies etc. It all sounds like extras dreamt up by the teachey to get cash out of you. Also, it sounds v far away. Is there anywhere nearer?

Whatisaweekend Tue 06-Jan-15 09:13:16

* Teacher, obvs.

Seeline Tue 06-Jan-15 09:39:13

I agree with Whatisaweekend. My DD does dancing, now age 10, but started at 2. She has 45 min lessons in ballet, tap and modern each week £7 each (but gets a small discount for doing 3 lessons).
Exams are one in each every 18 months or so. No award ceremonies etc. Sometimes need to do an extra lesson or two before the exam, charged at about £5 each.
Show every 2 years, costume charge of about £10/dance. Pay for tickets as at a public theatre, but not for the dress rehearsal.
Uniform not overly expensive, and remains useable for about 4 years at a time - about 2/3 grades (depending on growth of the child obviously!!).
I'd look around and see if there is anything else on offer in your area.

engeika Tue 06-Jan-15 09:46:55

The lessons sound cheap to me. Bear in mind that the teacher has to cover the costs of the venue/space, her own tax/ National Insurance, public liability insurance/ preparation time and actually earn something. You would need a lot of children in the class to reach a reasonable hourly income.

Exams are expensive - but that is not the teacher's fault. All exams are expensive, (music, GCSEs, riding - whatever)

I understand about the costs - I have had to give up things my kids loved due to cost and logistics - but have a bit more respect for what the teacher does and how much she is likely to actually get out of this.

leeloo1 Tue 06-Jan-15 09:47:27

If your dd is doing exams every couple of months (and I'm guessing she's passing them all) then does it not just mean that she's doing really well to do so many? I'm assuming here that the exams are 'official' ones and not ones the teacher is making up to con money out of you.

Can you explain the situation to dd - e.g. the classes, exam, prep, petrol is x £s, we can afford that, but the award ceremony is £sss extra and we can't afford that as well - then maybe if she really wants the award ceremony it could be a b'day present or she can save her pocket money towards it?

PuppyMonkey Tue 06-Jan-15 09:48:25

This is one of the reasons our DD stopped dance. It was all geared towards shows and costumes and selling tickets and charging you for all-day rehearsals. All DD really wanted to do was meet up with pals and have fun once a week, she didn't need training up for RADA.

Where I live, there's a real gap in the market for somewhere that simply teaches dance steps once or twice a week - and that's all. No pressure to be involved in a massive show.

Floggingmolly Tue 06-Jan-15 09:49:19

That sounds pretty much par for the course, to be honest. It's a bloody expensive hobby!

BlackbirdOnTheWire Tue 06-Jan-15 10:00:33

Hm. Think I might try to get 5yo DD interested in football instead of ballet! She has ballet and tap lessons at the moment and they are definitely the most expensive class/activity she does - more than swimming in a very small group at a private gym. The uniform and shoes are also more expensive than any other kit.

Thenapoleonofcrime Tue 06-Jan-15 10:21:15

I totally get you find this a lot of money, I feel your pain having forked out for various hobbies over the years, but I don't find the prices you are citing outrageous and if you think it through, who would be conning you.

Your child is getting 1.5 hours of teaching by an expert for under £10! If she has 8/10 in the class, that's only £80/100 for a couple of hours- to pay tax, insurance, hire of hall, possibly helpers etc. She's hardly raking it in!

Shows are important because that's where your dd gets the confidence to get up on stage and perform- of course they could just plod round a church hall every week for years, but the point is to perform with others, create a show, have fun doing this. I think one or two shows a year are pretty standard, less than one a year would be very odd. Again, the teacher isn't making a whole lot of money from this- usually they just cover the costs of the hire of a theatre which is extremely expensive. If you don't want to go and see your child perform/pay for this, you could just drop them off. Costumes are usually custom-made to the child's size and themed- we paid £20-30 a costume (for two children) once a year which I think is ok.

The key issue is you have to drive 70 miles (why?) and you feel you are being conned- but I do think once you go beyond toddler ballet, it is an expensive hobby. You have to decide as a family if this is something you want to continue with for this reason- leotards, shoes, shows etc. It all costs money and if you aren't wanting to do it or your dd is not that fussed, it could be good to drop it now as it won't be cheaper.

I think it is a bit off you think the teacher is making a huge profit though, my experience is they don't at all, they just love teaching. I would expect a professional expert, teaching a skill, to earn a reasonable wage though, wouldn't you? I very much doubt she is a millionaire from your dd's ballet classes.

Thenapoleonofcrime Tue 06-Jan-15 10:32:35

Can I also say (sorry, boring on!) that if your dd's teacher is great, and your dd is doing very well and getting distinctions, then at least it is money well spent. I had to move my children from an excellent ballet school, similar structure to the one you describe with very organized exams/shows and a great teacher, to a much more laid-back church hall one and it was a disaster. The teacher just wasn't up to much, it was all very tired and the shows a bit rubbish and the children just lost interest and both stopped ballet after a year or so. I was very disappointed as I know had they been at the old school they would have carried on longer as both just enjoyed the exercise (not especially talented) and the teacher had a knack of including absolutely everyone, even the lumpy, bumpy and not terribly ballet-minded children- she made them all feel a bit special.

So, I wouldn't move her to a marginally cheaper school just to save a few pennies (the exams won't get cheaper, she will still be in shows, the lessons are unlikely to be under £10 for 1.5 hours etc) and then risk getting a poorer teacher.

VictorineMeurent Tue 06-Jan-15 10:40:11

Just be grateful your daughter isn't into riding - £24 per hour.
If your daughter doesn't have career aspirations to be a dancer would a more general drama group be better?

19lottie82 Tue 06-Jan-15 10:58:11

This doesn't sound particularly expensive for dancing I'm afraid. My DSD (10) goes to classes twice a week, and my DSD (14) has just given it up. We shell out a small fortune on classes, outfits, exams and competitions. However, this doesn't stop the teacher having regular "fund raising" events too...... I think people are starting to get a bit fed up of this though as they seem to be slowing down.

DeWee Tue 06-Jan-15 11:11:13

I doubt the teacher is making much out of it though.
But it does seem a lot, except the lessons are cheap.. My dc do ballet and we have:
1x lesson until doing grades (primary is the first they do). I pay about �10 a week for one 30 minute lesson and one 45 minute lesson each.

But they only do grades every 2 years. Grades cost about �40-that covers pianist, exam fees, hall hire. Plus you need new ballet shoes at about �10. They also get an extra lesson/dress rehearsal which we don't pay extra for.
They do a show every 2 years. They usually ask everyone to pay �25 and that covers all the costumes (some years you win, others you lose), which they also get to keep. The show is about 20 minutes away from the usual place, and tickets were last time �10 each.

They do occasionally have masterclasses, you pay extra for that, around �25-�35, but is very much an optional extra and is at the usual place.

I know the shows just about break even cost wise. The teacher at one point would say it was towards a charity, but she found she was getting so little to give on, it was a bit awkward. So now she uses any extra to buy extra things for the school (things like new wands for the babies to dance with).
The lessons depends on which grade you are. primary is usually a class full, so 20 children, that will make a reasonable amount. But some of the older grades only have 2-3 in, so they'll be running at a loss.
Grades are not profitable at all for the teacher. If anything I think she makes a loss.

And for the teacher, she has every evening till at least 6:00 doing lessons, plus most of Saturday, and she's a teacher during the day time. I know I wouldn't choose to do that.

UptheChimney Tue 06-Jan-15 11:21:41

90 minute ballet classes are standard and at 9 yo, if she wants to pursue ballet as more than a 'naice' hobby, she will need to be doing at least 3 a wek by the age of 12/13. If she wants to go on pointe, then 3 x 90 min classes per week is the minimum to do without doing permanent damage to her feet & knees.

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