Two days ago, I attended class for the first time in two weeks. After I hobbled back to my apartment, I lay prone on my bedroom rug because my legs had essentially dissolved into jelly. Astonishing how fast that muscle strength goes away…
So although I have bought a class card, I’m not sure I’ll be staying with this particular studio. I plan on finishing the class series, of course, but if the other teachers/classes are like this one, I won’t be buying another set.
The class itself was challenging, yes. My thighs will (screamingly) attest to this. The teacher was clearly knowledgeable. The piano accompaniment was good. The studio building itself was charming.
So what was wrong? Simply: It may have billed itself as an adult class, but it did not cater to adults.
- No individual corrections at barre, except to the teen, pre-professional dancers.
- No corrections of older adults (and there were women there who were probably in their 50s, 60s) at barre.
- All corrections in center directed towards teen pre-professional dancers. During center, these were the dancers that the teacher watched; she gave only passing glances to the older women.
Now, I don’t want to be uncharitable towards teen dancers–they are lovely to watch, and often quite fun to have in an adult class. They tend to be less easily embarrassed than older adults, particularly beginners, so teachers feel more comfortable using their bodies to demonstrate a teaching point. In fact I would go so far as to say that I really enjoy having a big range of ages and body types in class; it’s just more interesting that way.
But it’s simply not worth the money or effort if the teacher ignores anybody who isn’t one of these dancers. Frankly, I and most of the other women in class have absolutely no ambition of performing or a professional career. It’s obviously not in the cards. But we’re in it to improve, and if a teacher pays you no attention at all, then what’s the point? Certainly, teachers have a tendency to focus on students “with potential” (i.e. the right body type), but honestly, adult students generally have no potential for performance. Perhaps teachers just do it out of habit, but as a paying customer, I find this irritating.
This shouldn’t be as much of an issue in beginning adult classes; the pre-teen and teen dancers don’t tend to drop in to these classes. It’s only when the levels begin to mix somewhat at the intermediate and advanced levels do you get this kind of in-class discrimination.
So I have 11 classes left to go…here’s hoping that the other teachers are better than this.