A Letter For Ballet Teachers

Hi everybody!  Today we are talking about some great qualities in a teacher, from a student.  If you are a new ballet teacher and wondering what students like to hear, or you are even a seasoned teacher looking for a new perspective, keep reading!

A teacher is somebody that not only teaches a student, but inspires a student.  Students’ potential and future professional careers ride on the back of the instruction that this teacher gives – therefore a good teacher-student relationship is a necessity for quick improvement and healthy development as a dancer.  Here are 10 qualities of great teachers …from a student.

  1. They are constantly working.

Everyone loves a teacher who gives them lots of corrections.  As a student, I find it very appealing to see a teacher constantly working with us and helping to develop our technique.  I love it if, while we are at the barre, the teacher walks around the room during the combination and gives one or two personal corrections to each person in the class.  That’s how we learn best!

  1. They give useful corrections.

The best teachers are not only ones that give sufficient corrections, but make ones that are relevant to dance as a whole.  For example, instead of saying after a dégagé combination, “In this combination, I showed the accent out.  Yet most of you did the accent in,” you could say, “Make sure you are showing the accent out.  Always pay attention to where I put the accent when I show the combination.”  Having been urged to notice this, we can then apply this to other classes.

  1. They give a preemptive correction for each combination.

Going into a combination without a focus point or idea of what we should be working on can be difficult for us students, and cause our minds to drift.  If you give a correction before the combination, such as: “Focus on initiating the dégagé with the heel,” we are more likely to actively improve our technique as we apply ourselves to that specifically.

  1. They tell us how to do something, not just to do it.

If a teacher tells us how to manage a certain step rather than just what the right way is, we can learn from it and we find it easier to apply the correction.  Vague or indirect corrections can be disappointing and difficult.  We appreciate it if teachers use phrases relating to imagery or anatomy.  Also, he/she can explain what he intends with the use of a certain terminology or style of the step.  This article on Dance Advantage describes the dispute very well!

  1. They realize that we understand things in different ways.

If a student is not applying a correction very well, we love it if a teacher attempts to say it in a different way and see if that makes sense with the student.  Especially if it involves imagery: the same image might not work for everyone!  It’s really important to be versatile and intuitive.

  1. They ask if we have any questions.

Especially if the teacher is new or a guest, it’s important to ask us if we have questions about the combination.  Some teachers find it disrespectful or negative for us to have questions, while others love it.  If you specify that you’re ok with it, we won’t be scared to ask if we do have a question!  If you regularly teach the same class and the students already know the policy, it’s fine if you don’t ask before every combination.

And a quick thank you…

Even if we look disappointed, or you feel like you are letting us down, we appreciate what you do so, so much!  We wouldn’t be the dancers we are today without you, and we really appreciate the hard work and dedication you put into preparing our classes for us.  Thank you so much for doing what you do!

Thanks for reading today’s post!  I’ll see you on Friday with another.  Keep stretching!

If you aren’t a teacher, make sure to post a link on your social media account (links below) and tag your ballet teacher!

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