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Physical and mental abuse


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#16 diane

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:56 AM

^^You are right, cubanmiamiboy, it could very well be taught how to "mask" a yawn so as to not appear to be disrespectful. (I often have to stifle a yawn whilst teaching some of my later classes; I am not at all bored! Just really tired and in need of fresh air and a break, both of which are not going to happen right then)

And, you also make a point about classes - any classes - being "fun" or not.
Those were days when not everything was meant to be "fun". I think that in many places that has changed now.
I find it troubling; that and the expectation that it is really important to "be happy", the implication being that we have to "be happy" all the time for our lives ot be fulfilling.

-sigh-

-d-

#17 Amy Reusch

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:56 AM

It's true, "fun" and "interesting" don't have to be the same. I remember a great uncle wondering when "fun" became a requirement even for adults... It must make training classical musicians very difficult these days... For me, "fun" is being able to do something "interesting".

#18 carbro

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:01 PM

I don't think "fun" is meant literally, but we all know from our own experience (and supported by research) that we learn better when lessons engage us. When teachers don't convey any enthusiasm for their subject, students aren't likely to develop any, and learning becomes a chore. Learning in life isn't like that. I wonder why people think school must be.

The yawner -- does anyone know how old she was? I think ejection from the class was harsh, but it also makes a difference whether she was eight years old or eighteen.

#19 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:59 PM

I don't think "fun" is meant literally, but we all know from our own experience (and supported by research) that we learn better when lessons engage us.


The problem being that kids-(and many adults, as I realize)-can't draw a line between the "fun" and "funny" concepts. The classes that I remember the most in the past-(my music class, literature, history and Spanish language)-were captivating, fascinating, and many other things, but not particularly "fun". When interest rose, you would get very passionate and attentive, but I don't remember any effort on the teacher's side to make it any "fun" at all.
Lately I've been exposed to suffer a dosage of this concept, when Bernstein's daughter came to town to give some sort of lecture on music along the New World Symphony. The whole thing was hard, sad to watch. The majority of people were laughing, and then the wonderful Tchaikovsky's music became just a background for her one woman show and non sense. It was awful, and yet, as I said, people were just laughing their hearts out. I spoke to a member of the orchestra about it later, and she kind of apologized about it, and said that Miss Bernstein does all that nation wide to "get to the masses" on the classical music subject.

Question being...is that really the only way...? Does EVERYTHING has to become a Jay leno show on this earth to have a chance...?

I guess I'm TOO old school...

#20 diane

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:39 AM

cubanmiamiboy, that is exactly what I meant; you articulated it much better. Posted Image


"Fun" vs "joy", perhaps.
(I almost wince when I hear a parent say to their child as the child goes into ballet class, "have fun!"; or when I have a teacher-parent talk and the main thing important for the parent is that their child is "having fun".)
So, perhaps some of my classes are not fun, and perhaps to some students I am psychologically abusive, as I do not compliment them all the time nor couch everything into a game or joke.

Of course lessons should be at least some of the time more enjoyable than not doing them, but it does not have to be an entertainment-hour where all the pupils do is "consume". ("learning can be fun!" - yes, but it is also work, often hard work. There is no free lunch. ;) )
The greatest joy - or perhaps even "fun" - comes when one is finally able to do something one could not do at first.

-d-

Edited by diane, 21 March 2012 - 02:40 AM.


#21 aurora

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:18 AM

Another common reason to yawn is need for oxygen. At least when I studied ballet, in hot, stuffy studios without good ventilation, this was not uncommon. Granted I tried to hide it when I did it, but it certainly wasn't due to lack of engagement or interest on my part. Just a simple need for more air. While our teachers were often harsh, I dont think anyone was reprimanded particularly harshly, besides maybe the sharp remark, for yawning in class.

#22 bart

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:50 AM

Based on my own youthful experience as an instrumentalist in school ensembles, the truly captivating, even addictive feeling was one of being "absorbed" -- often totally absorbed -- in something outside myself. This was something I rediscovered when I began taking ballet classes an relatively old age.

Teachers, even strict teachers, who were genuinely committed to the work (making the most of each piece of music) were not perceived as being unfair or abusive. On the other hand, a teacher who seemed to focus on good form or behavior for its own sake WAS often disliked and avoided.

"Fun" was hanging out with my fellow musician in non-practice, non-rehearsal, non-performance periods. "Funny" was what we were convinced we were when we joked among ourselves ... on our own time.

On the other hand, working hard and learning how to do things well, with confidence, and as consistently as we could was definitely a HIGH.

#23 little-junkie

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:52 AM

[size=4]The dance school I went to when I was a teen, we had good and gentle teachers, but there were also the cruel and rude ones. I remember hearing stories from other students about how the school principal was the worst among them. Verbally abusive language sometimes could be heard, that was just the "norm". Physical punishment was observed at times however. We used to have this wooden pool cue sitting in the corner of the classroom, and some teachers liked to use it to count, the principal liked to use it as a "weapon". I never experienced any physical discipline myself as a student, but I have seen girls in class being smacked[font="arial, sans-serif"] on the back of their legs with that. Everyone was just glad to get out of the class afterward. [/font][/size]
[size=4][font="arial, sans-serif"]Old school or not old school, I don't know, that was the 90's, I didn't like it too much and that's all I can say about that.[/font][/size]

#24 Helene

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:34 AM

I think there's a huge difference between strict and abusive and rigid and abusive. A fictional example is in Allegra Kent's new children's book, "Ballerina Swan", in which the older Miss Myrtle, portrayed in long-sleeved spinsterish black, dismisses Sophie, the swan of the title, from her class, but it is she, not the younger, gentler, more accepting Miss Willow, who notices that Sophie is distraught after when she doesn't see her name on the cast list for the recital. In character, Miss Myrtle is very straightforward about it all: she's just a tough one.

The stereotype about school and class that I always hear and read is that if a dancer doesn't have the teacher's attention, they're not likely to get anywhere, and even in schools like SAB, only a few each year get into NYCB, although a higher percentage get contracts elsewhere. Even there or in other professional schools, even if a PD dancer auditions for another company, the ballet world is so small that it only takes a phone call for someone from the training school to remark that the student is lazy or isn't a team player or is disruptive, or worse, to be praised tepidly. It seems to me that being ignored is the worst fate.

This makes be wonder if the teachers at this school are abusive because their students have little to lose one way or the other. If they are not being taken into the parent company, then either they are getting in no where, which must be demoralizing for the teachers, or they are getting in elsewhere regardless of their behavior, which must be demoralizing for the teachers.

#25 Birdsall

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 05:45 AM

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.

#26 puppytreats

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 11:11 AM

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

#27 puppytreats

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 11:20 AM

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.

#28 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 03:09 PM

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.

#29 Drew

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 04:55 PM

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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