Monday, February 9, 2009

DanceMind: To Anonymous

Thank you so much for your thoughts. I agree that your vwpt because what you have shared is very common especially in ballet. I hear the stories and know the pain from clients.

Learning that there is nothing you can do about demeaning comments, or criticism takes hold at a young age. We are told not to tattle. We know if we make waves, others who are obedient will get roles.  We also risk other group members ridicule and rejection. Students have been asked to leave schools.  Our parents can also support this 'not telling' to avoid making waves. 

I understand becasue as a parent of a professional ballet dancer, I spoke up when she was younger and then when she was older I told her that it is now her turn to make the decision when to speak up, how to manage it personally and when to ignore.

The teachers my daughter and you respect are the ones who are firm, have expectations, know what they are doing technically, have a process and want you to succeed.  One instructor who my daughter adores was the toughest, yet the most supportive. Never demeaning. Not hostile.
She wanted to work for him.

A part of the comment that I want to address is this (I am not being critical understand. I am teaching you.)
This is  copy from anonymous --
"I have always assumed that you were supposed to just bite it and get over it. I think with alot of the abuse its just your job to toughen up and handle it. Artistic differences in styles, bad days, and people who barrage you with insulted questioning your work ethic you just need to shoulder. I don't think there's anything you can do about that stuff."

It is important to differentiate between someone having a bad day, or a firm,  demanding teaching style and those who are consistently aggressive, hostile and threatening.  There is a school on the East coast that literally has 'sickened' dancers, meaning, mono, panic attacks, IBS, eating disorders, depression ....  

If a dancer tells me about an ongoing experience that is bad and uses those words above to describe the situation - "Just bite it" or "You just need to shoulder it."   I would look for digestive struggles and neck pain/shoulder pain. 
This is where stress would be held in the body for this individual. If this is the case, then you must "care' for those areas and learn how to not HOLD the anger. You are a human being.  It is human nature. 

Because we mentally shut down, stay in denial does NOT mean we are not taking the insults into the body-mind and life. We are still effective. Blind love for ballet, dance at all costs - still has consequences especially when it is psychologically hurtful.

I remember in grade school the teachers were very mean and abusive. We did not tell our parents, and certainly could not go to the principle. I 'learned' to hate learning because of the experience in the classroom. Today, teachers are terminated in the behaved in that way.  Does ballet have a tomorrow?      

The real question is - How much can you take? How do you take it?  

I appreciate this discussion. This darker side of performance can be handled, managed with increased awareness. We can talk about that...

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT
Performance Specialist

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