Making a New Start
It’s summer. Most of us are taking a breather from the chaos of dance schedules, though summer intensives and master classes keep us fresh.
It’s also a time when we may be preparing for a new experience in the coming year. Whether you’ve just moved to a new town (or part of town), are changing studios, or just have new teachers, it’s imperative that you do your best to make a good first impression.
That doesn’t mean being the perfect dancer. Obviously a new teacher wants to see what you know, but they don’t expect perfection right off the bat. What they will notice, though, is how receptive you are to feedback. If they see a teachable dancer, they’ll invest more energy into helping you improve.
It doesn’t matter how good you were at your last studio or in your previous class. You might have been the biggest fish in your pond. But you’ve started at a new pond, and it’s important to go in with a teachable spirit. Like it or not, the teacher will judge pretty quickly if you think you know everything before you walk in or if you’re there to learn. A prima donna will not get as much out of a class as someone who wants to learn everything the new teacher can give them.
One really important thing to keep in mind is that with every change, there’s going to be some overlap in your education, but there may also be some gaps. I’ve had numerous ballet teachers over the years, and though ballet has remained largely the same over the past decades (unlike, say, hip hop), every teacher approaches it differently and there is always new research into how the body works and how best to teach and avoid injury. Some classes I visited had different names for the same steps (e.g. degage/tendu jete), and last year I had to learn (and practice) the difference between coupe front and what I’d done growing up, sur le coup de pied. I could have continued to call them tendu jete instead of adapting, but I was there to learn and grow, not to show off. (I can guarantee my first ballet teacher would not have minded that I was trying new things and not just doing it the way she taught me without shifting).
Change isn’t easy. But if you go in recognizing that it will be a learning experience, you’ll come out stronger and better prepared for the next transition!