Pamela Moberg

Physical and mental abuse

29 posts in this topic

I have read an article online before that said nerves (like stage fright) can cause yawning, believe it or not. Whenever you have to go perform or be on show or do something that you are nervous about, your body can react with yawning, so it is definitely not always a sign of boredom or sleepiness, if the article I read is true. Unfortunately, I never saved it, but ever since I read that article I do notice that I yawn a lot right before having to do something that makes me nervous.

laughter, too

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I wonder if it has any common antecedents to drill sergeants... I'm not sure where I stand on that one... I've heard some rather famous dancers talk about how teachers broke them down only to build them back up again... Maybe it gets rid of hubris... Maybe it is hubris. Different teachers have different styles.

Yeah, we break horses, and slaves, and "uppity" former slaves, and people who speak up and don't realize their place, and those who are not robots.... [sarcasm] I keep thinking about Oprah's character in the "Color Purple"... and "Full Metal Jacket", where the army seargent was shot by the soldier he was trying "to break down only to break him back up".... Maybe another issue is at play. More importantly, maybe another, better way exists to achieve the positive goals sought to be obtained through abusive practices. And just because something was done a certain way in the past, or in the "old country", or it was "good enough for me", does not mean abuse has to continue as the current or future method.

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Now - abuse - act II. Today the headmaster of the entire school handed in his resignation. There appear to be a lot of problems, not just abusive teachers. There are several levels of problems: one is that the school is situated in a, shall we say, deprived neighbourhood. The ordinary pupils yell things like "ballet whores" and "gays" (another word actually, but I will refrain from writing it here) at the dance class pupils. DD told me that when she went there, her best friend was spat in the face by one of the non-dancing pupils. So, there was bullying then as well, but not to the extent of what is is like today. Now the PTA is demanding a move of the school, it has been suggested that the ballet school will go into partnership with the music school (also situated in a deprived area) and they will jointly move to new premises in the center of the city. Good idea, basically, but to find good premises for ballet is not easy - or cheap.

I hope you have all read about Royal Ballet School in London - you will find it in Links. I would also urge you to read the commentaries and responses to the articles, there are literally hundreds of them.

I will also make it clear, the ballet school here is absolutely free of charge, practise clothes and shoes are subsidised or entirely free of charge.

The situation looks grave, but let us hope for the best.

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More importantly, maybe another, better way exists to achieve the positive goals sought to be obtained through abusive practices. And just because something was done a certain way in the past, or in the "old country", or it was "good enough for me", does not mean abuse has to continue as the current or future method.

My thought as well. Certainly, I can't imagine that pre-professional ballet classes will ever be anything other than very tough (mine were...and, as you may infer, I never became a professional). I went to two very good schools, both of which were pre-professional and one, in particular, which produced major dancers for major companies. Why would classes in that context be anything other than tough--strict in all ways and holding students to the highest standards?

But, with at least two teachers at the first of the schools I attended, there was also an edge of sadism and manipulativeness in addition to strictness--qualities that I hardly knew how to recognize or understand at the time, but that, looking back, I am extremely skeptical were in any way pedagogically productive. Indeed, I was often just baffled by the "tone" of the classes and retrospectively I think my bafflement was actually an inchoate insight into the problem.

Simple favoritism seems unavoidable in a pre-professional context: you bet the teachers are interested in the students they judge to be talented and, in all candor, not remotely interested in anyone else (unless perhaps the child of a potential donor). But even w. regard to inevitable and even understandable favoritism, I think, in the case of the one school, there were elements of sheer game-playing -- or perhaps projection on the teacher's part -- that did not just have to do with talent and, indeed, I rather think may have been detrimental to some talented students. (To be clear: the latter would not have included myself. I am not...what's the word? Oh yes--coordinated.)

The second school I attended was also pre-professional and though quite strict--including my main teacher scolding quite unpleasantly any student who yawned!--had much less of this sort of thing. It was still a tough place and my memories of it are far from exclusively happy ones. But it showed me that it is possible to teach ballet seriously without sadism.

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