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Larger dance classes - How does it work?

(24 Posts)
angelrta Sat 01-Jul-17 04:19:41

My child has recently started at a new dance school. It's a school with a good reputation for ballet. However, the classes are large, I think 16+ per class. This means they get very little individual correction, and correction is given collectively on the whole (as in 'some of you are doing this, and need to be doing 'x' instead). The people who are doing well in championships and high exam marks etc seem to also have a private lesson. I;ve checked and there are no private lessons available at the moment.
Would you advise a move in this situation, or would that be premature? How do larger class sizes usually work?

AlexanderHamilton Sat 01-Jul-17 08:21:37

Large class sizes can work well for more advanced dancers but nothing beats personal attention & corrections from a good teacher.

angelrta Sat 01-Jul-17 12:30:11

Well, she's only 10, so Grade 3.

I think the teaching is good, if you can access it, but the method I'm not so sure about. It must work for some. She says she is just lost in the dances and can't keep up. They basically just run through the grade from start to finish, with one or two stops for the collective correction given from front of the class. I can see how it would be easier for a senior or advanced class to slot into something like this.
I'm not sure whether it is for us. I'm not pushy or in a hurry, but I can't see how she will progress much, and she's already feeling deflated and losing enthusiasm.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 01-Jul-17 20:23:26

grade 3 is good for a 10 year old although I suppose it depends on the board as some have more grades than others. it would be very good in our dance school but I think ours is slow with grades and they do ISTD which only has 6 grades. My PERSONAL feeling as a parent is that when classes have been over about 14 they have been too big. just my opinion. Not sure how much difference it really makes but I think my girls are happier in classes of about 10. They can learn a lot from other people's corrections and performances if they get to watch each other so it is good to have a reasonably sized class but if there are too many then like you say they can get lost or not be seen. I would be interested to know if they rotate positions in the class or if the teacher walks around looking at everyone individually or if they are in set places so if they are at the back they are never seen clearly. Do they take turns and do some stuff individually and so on. Has she gone from a class where she hadn't learned everything in the grade yet to a class where they are nearly ready for the exam so are literally polishing whilst she is trying to learn the steps (it sounded a bit like this where you say she can't keep up) in which case she would need some help to catch up on bits. If the whole class were learning an exercise then how would it be taught. I think these are valid questions to consider and to ask, of other children there already and the teachers.

I think dance schools vary so much and children who fit well in one might not get on with another and what works for one child might not for another.

AlexanderHamilton Sat 01-Jul-17 20:29:09

I think Grade 3 is about average at age 10. My dd stopped Grades when she went to vocational school aged 11 (most of her classmates were around the Grade 4-5 mark at that point)

But I don't think this sounds like a good set up. Too much focus on festivals & the
"Chosen few" perhaps with the private lessons.

IHateUncleJamie Sat 01-Jul-17 21:10:27

If a child is getting lost in a big group and struggling to keep up, it doesn't sound very enjoyable - which is surely the point of dance classes at that age?

16 in a class isn't a huge amount but it is on the large side. Are the students rotated in centre, or are the same people always at the front? Are travelling steps done in small groups?

If neither of these things happen, I would be wary. Group corrections aren't a bad thing per se but should be combined with individual corrections.

Minimusiciansmama Sun 02-Jul-17 03:09:09

I'd agree it sounds like they may be almost ready for the exam- my daughter joined a new school in February and arrived into g2 with them about to take their exam in March & a change of exam board. July now and she's really confident and settled, taking g2 in November. It's a class of 12-15 but they show exercises in small groups so receive individual attention and the teacher walks round making individual corrections. She left a school where there was a culture of "cherry picking" with privates and invitation only classes, an overly competitive, bitchy environment. She was top in exams etc and one of the children invited to all these things, winning her classes at festival etc but the teaching, environment & atmosphere was so unhealthy. She doesn't do festivals in her new school. She misses the beautiful tutus & trophies, shes much happier in her new school - and her dancing ad come on SO much.

dodobookends Sun 02-Jul-17 13:32:01

I wouldn't worry, she's only just started in that grade, and there are probably several in the class who already know it off by heart and are almost ready for their exam, which will be why she feels like she is struggling a bit.

She will be absolutely fine, and there will probably be some more new people in that class come September, and then she will know more than they do, which will improve her confidence.

Big classes are ok as long as the teacher does give everyone corrections. There's nearly 30 in my dd's class at the moment so it isn't unusual.

TrollMummy Mon 03-Jul-17 16:28:43

At DDs dance school if some of the class are almost at or preparing for an exam then the focus can seem to be on those students and they will also find it easier than others who have just moved up. Are some of this class likely to be moving on a grade soon?

angelrta Tue 04-Jul-17 16:26:23

Thank you for all the replies.

She's been in the class for a few weeks. She's been adjusted/corrected physically once in all that time, the rest of the time has been collective correction and instruction.
She does another syllabus class, a grade above, in another school, so she is familiar with most of the exercises, just not the order and dances and any difference between syllabus.
Yes, they split into smaller groups for travelling steps. Two of the girls are going to be doing exams and they are at the front, apparently, and get a bit more correction. They have three or four exam sessions a year. She suspects competition girls get a more correction too, but I'm not sure.

I don't mean to criticise teaching methods, as it obviously works well for some schools and children. Although it's early days Dd just feels like she isn't going to make much progress, when she's just copying the other girls with no indication if she's doing it correctly. I just don't know whether it's premature to consider a move.
In her other class (up to 10 girls) the teacher walks around the class correcting and adjusting. Class stops to perfect certain steps too if needed etc

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 06-Jul-17 14:12:17

can i ask why she is dancing in two different dance schools doing different boards?

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 06-Jul-17 14:17:07

what are the two boards? I gather there are some differences in things so although she could be grade 4 in one school and doing grade 3 in a different board in this one and may be familiar with some of the steps she could find there are big differences. plus the dances and exercises will lose her for a bit until she learns the order of the steps. Many schools do just expect new pupils to just join in and pick it up. If she is new there I am puzzled how she would know who is doing competitions and who isn't so perhaps the ones getting corrections are just those who need corrections. They may just be giving her a bit of time to settle in before correcting her?

dodobookends Thu 06-Jul-17 18:02:10

perhaps the ones getting corrections are just those who need corrections
No, sorry, all of them will need corrections (some more than others) but they are all paying for class and deserve the teacher's attention. Without correction you will just be reinforcing the way you are doing it now, and it will be all the more difficult to iron out faults in technique the longer it goes on.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 06-Jul-17 19:17:46

no I didn't mean it like that but what I meant was if her daughter "suspects" the ones getting corrections are those who do competitions but doesn't know this because she has only been there a few weeks it sounds like her mind is already made up and it is sour grapes if that makes sense. my comment that they are just those who need corrections means that they are any student in the class who needed correcting on that particular bit. If she has only been there a few weeks and it is a big class then it is perfectly possible these ones getting corrections are different ones in each exercise not just the same three or so who do competitions. Does that make more sense? I didn't word it well

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 06-Jul-17 19:18:46

to be honest those having privates and doing competitions quite possibly already have been given their corrections in their private lessons in which case it is more likely that those receiving them in the class are those NOT having private lessons

dodobookends Thu 06-Jul-17 19:52:18

Oh, I see what you mean now smile
It could be that the teacher doesn't like to single out newbies for too many corrections, as the student might feel a bit demoralised and worried that they are doing everything wrong. Perhaps the teacher lets them settle in first and then come down on them like a ton of bricks
There might be exams imminent too, and the ones getting a lot of corrections are being prepared for those.

angelrta Thu 06-Jul-17 19:59:04

I mentioned the two boards to illustrate that she knows some of the steps already for that reason. The syllabus in the OP is IDTA.

The competition children are identifiable by the comp uniform (only outerwear and hoodies though), or perhaps it was mentioned in class. I don't know how she knows, or suspects.
It may be a settling in period until she's more familiar with the grade but it may not be. My quandary is whether to wait and see or to move her now.

taxi4ballet Thu 06-Jul-17 21:01:38

Why did you decide to send her to this new school, as well as continuing with the old one? Was there a particular reason?

Crumbs1 Thu 06-Jul-17 22:22:07

RAD grade 3 at 10 really isn't particularly special, so I wouldn't assume she is necessarily good based on that. 16 in a class above about grade 2 seems a lot. I think my daughter was in a group of 5/6 for Grades 3/4 and then supplemented with private lessons from grade 4. She was having lessons with two others by the time she was starting pointe at 11 - grade 6 I think that was. By 11 she was dancing four times a week either in very small group or privately and also doing RBS junior associates.
I think you might want consider whether large classes are in her best interests, assuming she wants to take ballet seriously.

Angelrta Thu 06-Jul-17 22:54:12

RAD grade 3 at 10 really isn't particularly special, so I wouldn't assume she is necessarily good based on that.

It isn't RAD, I said IDTA, and I didn't claim at any point that she was 'good' but thank you. You don't know anything about us. I mentioned the grade level in context of it not being an advanced class, as mentioned by a previous poster.

Thank you for the previous replies.

taxi4ballet Thu 06-Jul-17 23:20:29

Was your dd at a fairly small school Crumbs1 ? Some larger dance schools normally have a fair few even in the higher grades, my dd has never had the luxury of being in a class with only a couple of others.

Angelrta - perhaps you might like to have a chat with your dd's new teacher and ask how they think your dd is getting on. Talking to them will help you decide what would be best for your dd. You could always mention that she's not used to being in a big class and is feeling a bit lost.

cantkeepawayforever Fri 07-Jul-17 18:31:27

It is possibly worth asking whether everyone does the exercises all together all the time, or whether they work in 'lines'.

On the few occasions I could watch DD's classes when she was younger and classes larger, the class was organised into lines. The teacher would teach through an exercise, the whole class would do it, then the front line would go round to the back and the next line come under scrutiny etc. Depending on the exercise, they either did it all together several times with the front 'line' at that point getting the most detailed corrections, or lines would do the exercises separately. OK, there might have been a line that wasn't at the front for a given exercise, because it wasn't repeated quite enough times, but over the course of the lesson, every child would be focused on.

The school does do festivals, but everyone does exams, and everyone gets merits / distinctions (ISTD), so the method clearly works OK.

Now DD is older - working towards Adv 1 at 14 - the classes are smaller, 7-8 or so.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 08-Jul-17 04:39:42

I am not very familiar with IDTA. So am I right in saying then she is grade 4 in one board (? which one) and grade 3 in the new IDTA class? Is there an overlap in style with the IDTA and RAD? (I am pretty sure RAD and ISTD have differences between them with some positions but perhaps this doesn't exist with the boards she is doing). If there isn't an overlap then mixing boards at that age could be quite confusing. I know people do it quite often when they are doing higher grades and vocational exams but at 10 it might just be too much. She is learning two different syllibi/syllibuses(?) and potentially 2 different styles/sets of positions etc. My 9 year old, nearly 10, is in grade 2 ISTD ballet and is a good dancer with extremely good exam results, she is very quick to pick things up and adapt but I do think she would struggle mixing two different boards.

but back to the large classes - that in itself might not be the problem, if she feels she can't keep up and is getting lost then that sounds to me like it could be more to do with her lack of confidence or knowledge of the syllabus as it is new to her.

Angelrta Sat 08-Jul-17 12:31:47

I might have a quick word just to ask how it's going. I don't know if they teach in lines, will check with dd.
She's always done two boards (well since she was 5) and is fairly used to any differences. She ended up at two schools by accident, not outing self but she was only visiting one school to watch somebody else and was invited to join. This new school is a change in school, as staff and structure drastically changed, not a new addition to one school. If that makes sense.
Other board is ISTD, yes grade 4.

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