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  • Writer's pictureBristol Ballet School

The Fine Line Between Fun & Discipline

Dance teachers want their classes to be fun. As dancers we were drawn to dance because it makes us smile, feel weightless and free. It gives us a fun creative outlet, it's our passion. But there is always a distinct line: a line that we learn to be aware of and respect.

Somewhere along your dance journey you must learn that dance isn't just gallops in a circle, or "head-shoulders-knees-and toes." To REACH a new level of excellence in dance (and fun in dance) requires technique, dedication, discipline, loyalty and persistence.

As a dancer, I know the line well. But as a teacher I had to discover when to acknowledge and enforce the line. Sure, we all have rules which we establish on the first day of class: No hair in the face, No baggy clothes, No talking over each other, don’t say "I can't," No disrespect toward the studio, the art, other dancers, or the teacher. But we also encourage our students to open up: tell stories, express themselves when they are frustrated, and share whatever they're going through (happy, sad, mad, bad). Sharing creates a caring environment.

We want our students to feel welcomed and at peace in the studio, but we also want them to understand this is a place of WORK, hard work. This is a time to focus, try, try and try again, push beyond any limitation you thought you had, and then some.

The way I have established the line thus far is to bring out my "serious tone," accompanied by "serious speech," and the "serious expectations" for the class. If this has no effect I may ask a student to sit out for 5 minutes, in serious cases to leave the class. If poor behaviour continues this will be followed by a verbal conversation to both parent and student, lastly a letter home.

We usually get wide eyes, silence, and the results we wanted, but we're hoping they will learn the line without the serious factors prompting their recognition. Our long-term goal and hope is that they will respect dance enough to understand the line is necessary to create the beautiful visions and art of dance.

We hope they understand why we must be The Bad Guy and say, "You aren't focused," "You did that wrong," "Go back! “Do it again” “Pay attention” “Stop talking” We must because if we do not, they will never progress or unlock their real potential, or learn the key to dance.

During class, dancers are expected to be quiet while the teacher gives the instructions for combinations, or offers a correction. If the dancer has question, then she should raise her hand and wait to be acknowledged by the teacher to ask her question. Gum chewing is unsafe and is not allowed in class. Classroom behaviour also involves courteousness towards other dancers as well as respect for authority to the teacher. Certain etiquette is expected, no shouting or screaming in the classroom. This is not only a distraction for class concentration and focus but also disrespectful to the teacher. Keeping the dance floor clear of water bottles, bags, clothing and if you are not dancing.. Yourself - especially when other dancers are on the floor and can trip. Discipline in ballet is a way of life, a good way to learn to lead your life outside of the dance room.

All of these rules are important for our students health and safely and can be found on our website and on our notice board under our Code of Conduct and Rules and Regulations.

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