Gwenyth asks Adult Beginner a thing or two.

Have you ever wanted to just grab the Adult Beginner’s full attention for a minute and say “Girl. Whut???”
Gwenyth did!
You know Gwenyth brand, of the beautiful barre wear and this yummy unboxing moment?
Quick but Hard-Hitting interview right here over at the Gwenyth blog.

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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7 Responses to Gwenyth asks Adult Beginner a thing or two.

  1. Barbara says:

    What I like best about your blog is your writing. Are you a writer and a dancer? You really have talent in the writing department I know that. As for teachers I feel fortunate to have had two teachers that were OLD SCHOOL. They taught like you were an ADULT going to audition for a professional dance company one day. One of my fellow dancers and I are soooo sad now because at least in Portland, Oregon the teachers all come across like they are teaching Creative Dance For Children where every thing you do is “GOOOOOOOOD”. We so miss our so called MEAN teachers that would make corrections over and over again by calling out your NAME. Yes, in my fifties and sixties at times I cried all the way home but I always went back because I knew they were teaching ME the real deal not a one size fits all “make them feel good about themselves” class.

    • Yes!!!! Old-School Mean 4-Ever!!!! Seriously. The best. It’s so great when a teacher doesn’t just Believe you can do things correctly, they Expect you to do things correctly. And even when you can’t or don’t, they still expect it. Gives you so much to work toward. And so much to cry about on the way home!
      And thank you, I’m delighted you like the writing. I’m a pattern maker in real life, all lines and numbers, few words.

      • Professor Paratrooper says:

        Agreed regarding the tough teachers….but could the ballet world borrow from the military and use the “unforgiving and tough but positive” way? If drill sergeants at Basic Training can scream in your face that you’re doing it wrong and better fix it or people will get killed but STILL manage to convey that they’re on your side, believe in you and just trying to make you good soldiers, couldn’t old school ballet teachers be similarly tough and unrelenting but encouraging? Or would that not work in ballet? I can see how maybe it wouldn’t because military training *seems* on the surface to be mostly about the physical and the technical. While meeting the physical standards and acquiring the technical proficiency is required and non-negotiable what really matters is not so obvious: absolute motivation and refusal to quit. Ever. That’s what wins battles. Could that be a difference in ballet? Is it true that in ballet either you have it or you don’t, either you can do it or your can’t and motivation – no matter how much you have – may not be enough if you can’t do something,have the wrong body type, etc? I’m a brand new adult beginner in ballet so I don’t know…but I am interested in hearing what you all have to say.

        • Hmmm. The military drill sergeant thing, part of that method is to get the group to bond, become a unit, develop cohesion, right? Like, the individuals must be formed into a group that responds immediately and together to any order from their superior? Maybe? Just thinking here, I have no military experience but I have, like, cracked a book or two in my day.
          But in a ballet class, there’s really no sense of cohesion. You’re a group, maybe friends, maybe even a team, but within that team you’re still just yourself, alone, responsible to yourself. You don’t have the 24 hour immersion of living together like in a basic training type situation, or the over-arching sense of purpose of, say, defending your country, so the stakes are different to put it mildly.
          But thinking of this does make me feel glimmers of that old stereotypical dictatorial ballet company director, demanding total obedience and total love and more turn out more extension more faster more impossible more better do it now don’t pause don’t speak, a lá many deliciously trashy ballet novels.
          As for motivation versus physical, adult beginners come in all physical ways, and even professionals talk about ways their drive and love for what they do has helped them get beyond being too tall, too muscular, too whatever.

          • Professor Paratrooper says:

            Very interesting; you are certainly correct that much of the physical and mental rigor of basic training (basic in all the services, not just the Army, has this is common) is about building group cohesion. That’s not all of it but, yes, that’s clearly the major objective. The group must function AS A TEAM – that is absolute. So I certainly see the difference between ballet and the armed forces in that sense as you have explained it. (In point of fact, the Army wants to train soldiers to obey any *lawful* order from a superior, not literally “any” order. In practical terms though that means any order. The times when it doesn’t…well, that’s a conversation for another blog and a tragic and difficult conversation at that, but anyway….)

            Yes, Basic is 24-hour immersion. So, yes, you have identified some differences. But drill sergeants are tough on the group and they are tough on the individuals. And they are trained to know when to ease up and when to put on the pressure. And they are soldiers too, and were once themselves where the trainees are. But even if you factor out the fact that it is about a team, not individuals, and that it’s 24/7 – might you still be left with the fact that *toughness* can be positive?

            Are there other disciplines in which a teacher is unrelentingly demanding but still encouraging? Actually, some of my professors in graduate school were that way and I try to be that way with my own graduate students. Nobody gets anything for free. The paper does not pass unless it is up to standards. I don’t sugar-coat things. But I still encourage the students and believe in them. I learned that from the Army. It was over 20 years ago for me, but looking back as I think about it, sure I struggled with several things – few trainees are *perfect* (though there’s always one) – and each and every time, even when they were yelling, the drill sergeants were helping us. WE were motivated and THEY were motivated. They wanted to make us into good soldiers. Could not a motivated ballet teacher working with motivated students be tough but positive, and be committed to making them good dancers?

            So I agree with your description of the different context of ballet classes, but surely there is a way for a teacher to be unrelentingly demanding but positive and encouraging, i.e., “that is not right and unacceptable and you must fix it – but I know that you can and believe that you will. You will be glad when you have. I will stand by you and guide you as you fix this and change what is currently substandard to absolutely excellent. Get to work and do not give up! Do not give up! You can do this!” Would that not work in ballet? I’d like to think it would but you all tell me.

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