No Spring Concert Here

Not too long ago the Adult Beginner recieved an email from a reader, mentioning among other things that it’s the norm in Anonymous Emailer’s homebase for adult ballet classes to culminate in some kind of end-of-term performance or recital or show, and was that how we did things in Los Angeles?
And I was like omygod NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Like, death first. Is how I see it.
But then I was like, ‘Huh. Why is that?’
I mean not why my personal Death First feelings
—I know the answer to that one. And yeah, am aware that most adult ballet students aren’t crazy recluses like I am but whatever—
Why as in Why Don’t adult ballet classes in LA work toward a performance, if that’s a normal thing for adults in other places?
Why, LA?
I have heard of the occasional choreography workshop or similar for adults in LA that ends in a performance, like I remember reading that Align Method did one in 2014 which I’m sure was lovely but I wanted absolutely zero part of because see previous: recluse, and there are probably other examples I just plain don’t know about because the idea horrifies me so much that I actively un-know all related information.
Tons of kids’ performances tho. All the kid studios do a spring showcase, just like everyplace else on earth. I’ve almost been to one or two. Children of friends, like you do.
Maybe that is getting toward the reason: the kid performances have a built-in ticket-buying audience of mom and dad and grandparents and maybe even a friend or two who will buy an overpriced rose in the lobby for the lé petit etoile plus a brownie for themselves for intermission and maybe even keep the studio in mind and enroll their own child a few years down the road.
Cynical Adult Beginner says Follow The Money:
There’s no garaunteed audience to offset the cost of renting a performance space for the grown up types, and adult students don’t bring in an audience that parlays into future clients like the kids do.
Plus, this is LA. If you want to see a small showcase of adult dancers, there are lots of professional groups you could watch. If you want to be a small showcase of adult dancers, there are lots of professionals you could audition for and join.
People will only go see a student performance when they have a personal connection to the student, and without the adorbs-factor, well, adults are busy. One might make an effort to shout yay for a four year old at her first show, but a forty year old… I can see being turned off by fear of the cringe-factor or just not seeing the point, as kids shows are so much about potential and first steps into the public eye, and adult student shows are about something else.
And then there’s the fact that most teachers of adults in LA are not full-time employees of a studio. They teach free-lance, which means there’s no Big Studio Machine to set into motion come showtime, everything would be on the teacher: advertising, finding a location, getting someone to run lights, sound, work the door, just, ugh, a lot of stuff to do and organize and be in charge of, and just wow, totally not what I want my ballet teacher to be mulling over while I’m struggling at the barre.

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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19 Responses to No Spring Concert Here

  1. Trippmadam says:

    I am a crazy recluse, and I am quite happy spending my days in the basement of some dance school, never seeing the light of a stage. We have some dance schools who do showcases, but it is optional. Students do not have to participate, if they do not want to.

  2. kit says:

    There should be more performance opportunities for amateur adults, in my opinion. Optional, of course. I think that’s a big part of the appeal of Sun King Dance and stuff like that, the opportunity to perform.
    The logistics of changing schedules and adult responsibilities make it a challenge, however. Perhaps if a short piece was rehearsed for a several weeks commitment by a group of students of skill level leaning more towards Intermediate-Beginners. So that rather than most of the time being spent on instruction it would just be a quick warm-up barre and the rehearsal. Could work…maybe… (Had no idea most teachers freelance. Maybe it could work as part of a multi-genre amateur dance concert held by the studio/venue? Is is obvious I just want the opportunity to have my recital denied to me as a child, lol?)
    However, I definitely agree that I don’t want the teacher being concerned with the logistics (and being mentally absent) while teaching class.

  3. Long ago when I took ballet I was in a mixed teen/ adult beginner class. Do you know they had the audacity to try to put us in the same show as the cute little kids? I bowed out of that one. Performance isn’t my thing.

  4. JustScott says:

    I really don’t think that’s the norm at most places. The adults in the open classes at the pre-pro school I attend don’t appear in the school show. But when you are a dude, and they are in short supply, you can end up being drafted into company performances. I’ll be nameless court dude in Sleeping Beauty in two weeks.

  5. daktulos says:

    We put on two shows a year. They are (extremely) amateur and although our mission is to promote arts education (especially for kids) and enrich the community, most of our audience is our friends and family.

    We also visit nursing homes and schools. As an adult I struggle with this amateur but not a cute kid status but the nursing homes really seem to love us so it’s rewarding in that sense.

    A lot of the time, it feels like playing dress with people you’ve known for years and striving striving striving for whatever bit of amateur artistry you can stand on tippy toes to reach. See what I did thar?

  6. daktulos says:

    Also we are kids and adults integrated together. Which makes it weird in different ways.

  7. Maggie says:

    When I started taking ballet in my mid-twenties it was with a school that did two big performances every year and I used to love being involved. All the students, from the young children to the adults, got involved and it was really fun.

  8. Rori roars says:

    Ha… as reclusive as I tend to be, I probably wouldn’t dance as much if I didn’t get to perform. That’s part of why I gave it up after college… hard to find performing opportunities as a grown-up and without them I lose focus/motivation to go to class. The Leo in me still needs the spotlight, I guess. That being said, our end-of-year studio show is definitely not at the top of my favorite performances list. Our studio does a great job of making it a show with a storyline rather than just a bunch of random dances strung together, but even so, I always feel that it’s mostly about the toddlers in tutus. I prefer the stuff that our affiliated company does… tends to focus way more on the older kids and the adults and feels more artistic and professional. The end-of-year gig… meh, I mostly do it because it’s there and it’s low-stress (for me, not for the people running it!).

    • In The Cranes Dance, by Meg Howrey, which I totally totally recommend, there’s a part where she describes the main character’s dad as being a violin player but being really into the scales and practice element of it, rather than playing full pieces, and reading it I was like ‘Shuh, That’s lame, what’s the point of even playing violin if all you’re going to do is practice’, and then I realized that’s totally what I’m into with ballet, the scales and practice.
      Being motivated by a performance makes more sense, definitely, and at the same time it’s cool that there’s room in adult ballet for a wide range of motivations, people all lined up at the barre but for all different reasons.

  9. Maria D says:

    Catherine Round puts on annual performances in Los Angeles. Her adult beginner and intermediate students perform a few pieces in the beginning…then she has professionals take over. It’s a fundraiser for California Hospital Downtown. If you’re every feeling the itch, it’s an option for you!! You’ll just have to drive to Pasadena.
    http://croundballetworks.com/pay-it-forward-benefit/

  10. Kaija says:

    No performance opportunities for adults at my studio either and that is FINE with me. I’m an introvert; I hate being “on stage”, and I don’t get off on having an audience. For me, ballet is a highly internal and personalised practice that I do for myself, not for external display or validation (and I am puzzled by people who ask “but what are you training for/why do it if there’s no ‘audience’?”). I know others who thrive on performance and that is ok too…different people have different motivations and goals. However, in our current “look at me” culture of selfies and “it didn’t happen if it isn’t on Instagram”, I like that the studio is a safe and silent space to push myself, strive for personal improvement, and enjoy the discipline because it’s a practice (like yoga or meditation) for me.

  11. Jeff Tabaco says:

    Interesting! I am such a ham (coming from doing musicals in high school/college) that I love any chance to perform. One of the studios I go to does performance workshops twice a year for adults, covering several different dance styles, and I did the ballet one once! Very supportive audience of friends and family, so lots of fun. (But in recent years, they inexplicably cut out the ballet portion, wah!)

  12. Rebecca says:

    My classes, although adult-only, are part of an all-age ballet school. We only do a show every few years as it’s an almighty strain on the teachers and the huge number of volunteers needed. There was one a couple of months ago and I dithered about performing as there were many more rehearsals than my regular class schedule… but the decision was made for me by appendicitis, so I was costuming rather than dancing.
    I took my family to watch and it couldn’t have been nicer – two numbers for little ones in tutus; an all-age ‘magic toys’ ballet where different groups came to life as different dolls etc with age- and skill-appropriate choreography; a dramatic character-led narrative ballet for the 9-15s; a jazzy lyrical dance for the adult TBs. After the interval was basically a full-length mini-ballet with teens and adults as gypsies (in character shoes), romantic-era fairies (en pointe), and the most talented children as wood nymphs etc.
    But you’re right – the audiences were entirely parents and friends and we barely broke even after venue hire, costume materials etc, despite many things being donated or volunteered.

    Madame does frequently tell us that ballet is a PERFORMING ART and makes us do things like practise leaving-the-stage after working across the floor, rather than just strolling away. Which I like.

  13. Kiwi Ballerina says:

    Our teacher ropes us into the show every Christmas. We all say we cant stand it and complain about the practices, then we kind of warm to it and enjoy actually dancing, then we swear we will never do it again, and then after the performance we say well maybe we will next year, but only if we get to wear tutus and so it starts all over again.

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