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Physical and mental abuse


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28 replies to this topic

#1 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 03:45 PM

There is something rotten in the state school in Gothenburg. This story has even made the headlines and the TV news. There is a national ballet school here, you have to audition to go there. I have some inside knowledge because DD went there (she was injured, gave up ballet and is now an attorney). It is a vocational school, DD always said that the discipline was very strict, classes every day including Sat. morning. That was a few years ago and I have no personal insight since then.
However, there have been reports in the papers and on TV that ballet teachers abuse pupils verbally and mentally, punching in the stomach, hitting them on the head - one pupil was thrown out of ballet class for having yawned.
One irate parent wrote a letter of complaint, called it worse than North Corea. The Board of School Inspectors have been called in and found that pupils indeed had been ill treated in a number of ways. The headmaster said that they try to work in a democratic manner, the ballet teachers defended themselves with that pupils must be toughened to be able to stand up to life as professional dancers. A real storm has broken, but the real sad thing is that the general public reads the papers and will say: Well, now at last we know, ballet is unhealthy and a despicable form of entertainment.

I will follow this debate with great interest.

Yet, only about half a year ago, there was another debate in the newspapers, this time in Stockholm papers. Well, it was to the effect that of all the pupils examined from the national ballet school, hardly anyone gets a job with the established companies in Sweden. Because they are not good enough! In stead foreign dancers are employed. True, check the lists of artists of the Stockholm Opera House and the Gothenburg Opera House, you will find very few dancers with Swedish names.

Must say that I fear greatly for the future of Swedish ballet.

#2 diane

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 04:30 AM

That is very sad and troubling.
I have not heard any official reports of abuse in the state schools here, though I have heard from students who were there (one DD, among others) that some less-than-desireable things happen. (I am pretty sure this is the case everywhere; we just usually do not hear about it. It is very individual, I think.)

As to the employment situation:
How many companies are there in Sweden which hire full-time dancers, do you know?
Is it "easy" for the companies to procure work-visas for the foreign dancers?
Did any of the dancers from other countries finish their training in Sweden?

It is not that much different here in Germany, either, as far as I can tell, as far as the hiring of dancers goes. Most dancers in the companies are not from Germany originally, though many did finish their training here at one of the state-schools.



-d-

#3 Helene

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:44 AM

EU employment laws make it easy to hire from almost everywhere in Europe, apart from Norway, Albania, and countries that were once Yugoslavia.

#4 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 03:43 PM

There are four professional companies in Sweden: Stockholm Opera Ballet, Gothenburg Opera Ballet, Malmö Ballet och The Cullberg Ballet. Then there are some free groups, not attached to a theater. Stockholm does the classics, the other companies are mostly modern.

If the employer applies for a work permit I dont think it would be that difficult.

It seems that most of the foreign dancers received their education elsewhere, of course it is possible that some one with a foreign name came here at a young age as an immigrant and received all their dance training here.

#5 Amy Reusch

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 06:03 PM

Yawning in class is not a sign of a good student actively involved... It is rude and disrespectful... I am not surprised that a student would be disciplined for this, particularly if it were not the only offense... "Punched in the stomach" might be a student's hyperbole and not the way the teacher would have described it... one might tap a student on the abdomen to get them to tighten it up and it might be a firm tap, but a punch implies a fist which seems extremely unlikely...HOWEVER "hit on the head" is absolutely inexplicable!!!

Verbal abuse? That's an old tradition. 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.

#6 diane

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 02:38 AM

Amy, you do make some points; I was also trained in the "old traditiion" of verbal and the occasional physical abuse. (although I more often had to watch others getting the brunt of it than suffer it myself)

There are methods of getting results without abuse, of course, but these do not seem to "work" with everyone.
There are - it appears - some students who do not seem to respond to anything but the most overt and "abusive" corrections, only then do they appear to "wake up". (drill sargeants do come to mind!)
Oh, and yes, there are sometimes those with an amazing amount of hubris, though I do wonder how they got that far (to a big, professional school) with still so much of that intact! (usually reality takes hold earlier!)

Actually, these students should probably not be trying to be professional dancers, if they need to be so pushed to feel motivated But, who am I to say who should do what? I am probably missing something. :D

Work visas:
Where I live the allotment of work-visas seems to differ from one state or even city to another; in some places it appears to be fairly easy for non-European-Union members to get visas, in others: not so much. Perhaps it also depends on the person behind the desk; I am unaware of any hard-and-fast criteria, other than that the dance-co. must "prove that there are no European Nationals available who could do the job". :)

-d-

#7 puppytreats

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 05:20 PM

Some abusers are just cruel, sadistic, vindictive, and mean. Some don't know any better, having grown up learning by example. Some don't have composure or self-control. Some need to be taught themselves.

Yawning is not disobedient; it is involuntary. Do people get disciplined for having a cramp? I hope not.

#8 Amy Reusch

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 07:12 PM

There are those who think being bored is a problem with the teacher and there are others who think the problem lies in the student... Is boredom a sign of intelligence or lack of initiative?

The yawn may have been involuntary, but the state of mind that lead to the yawn may have been voluntary.

#9 puppytreats

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 07:30 PM

There are those who think being bored is a problem with the teacher and there are others who think the problem lies in the student... Is boredom a sign of intelligence or lack of initiative?

The yawn may have been involuntary, but the state of mind that lead to the yawn may have been voluntary.


thought police now?

#10 Helene

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 07:35 PM

Aside from the fact that yawning isn't always a sign of boredom, if a person is bored, a person is bored. Not every moment in a class or in the studio is going to be fascinating, and it seems to me that learning to deal with boredom on one's own and learning to re-focus are a far better life skills to learn for when that person is a professional, when there won't always be a teacher hovering around to yell at them, and they have to be self-motivated and self-correcting.

#11 carbro

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:18 PM

Yawning can also be a reaction to moderate fear. In this instance, it strikes me as completely appropriate. Of course, it could also mean that the youngster didn't get enough sleep the night before, a common effect of too much stress.

#12 Amy Reusch

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:00 PM

All possible. "Boredom" is a fairly recent concept, I understand it came into the language not long after "electric dynamo". As a child I was surprised by a grandmother who, when I complained of being bored, said she had thought I was too smart to be bored. Up until then I hadn't run into the concept that boredom was a weakness of the mind rather than an indication of intelligence. Sitting and waiting for hours on a plane/bus, etc.. is one thing... being bored in a dance class is another. Sure a yawn can be due to lack of sleep, etc., but if a teacher is going to be annoyed by a yawn, it's probably not the first yawn or the first indication of lack of attention... A yawn can also be stifled.

By now, I'm sure I'm boring all of you... but I would tend to go with Helene's last post...

#13 diane

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:54 PM

re: yawning.... http://news.national...health-science/ sorry very slightly: Posted Image
-d-

#14 Amy Reusch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:36 AM

With all the heat generated, it is surprising it doesn't happen on stage sll the time...

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:50 AM

Yawning is not disobedient; it is involuntary.


Yes, but...aren't we teaching our youth how to MASK a yawn any longer...? I did learn as a kid, and I still occasionally do it during less than engaging social situations. Yes, yawning can come unexpected, but then there's a difference in between doing it explicitly, loud and with open wide mouth regardless of who's in front of you and doing it discreetly by covering your mouth and lowering your head. Family is responsible for teaching those tricks.
re: teaching methods. I come from old school too, and fear of teachers was very likable to be linked with classroom quietness, but then, back then and there classes were not supposed to be fun. The teacher's message was always "It is your choice...you either cooperate and learn or I'll make your life miserable and and you won't pass"


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