Teaching Tips

Keys to Giving Your Adult Ballet Students What They Need

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Adult ballet students come from all kinds of different places—and they attend your class for all kinds of different reasons. Understanding who your student is and what they want is key in making sure you give the kind of feedback that will resonate with them and help them get what they need out of your class. Achieving this type of connection makes for a happy student and for a more fulfilling student/teacher relationship overall.

Some students will likely come to work strictly on technique, while others may only want to enjoy the feeling of dancing while getting some exercise. Some may want all of that, or will have other reasons for coming. If you can get a feel for why an adult ballet student is there, it can be very helpful in terms of how you interact with them throughout class. It will also assist you in tailoring the specific types of corrections you give to develop them as a dancer.

Giving thoughtful feedback is a developed skill, and there are a number of different ways to scout out the reasons your adult students have enrolled in class. They're not particularly difficult, but they will take a bit of forethought, time and effort on your part. Pick the ones that works best for you:

  • Try out an introduction—when a new student comes in, have them introduce themselves to the class and share the reasons they decided to join with the other students.
  • Go for the direct ask—you can also simply ask a student what they would like to get out of the experience prior to (or after) class.
  • Pick up the phone—it can be helpful to touch base with an adult student by phone prior to the first day of class. This gives you the chance to have a little one-on-one time to find out more about them and their goals.
  • Pay attention to your corrections—when you give an adult ballet student a correction, make a mental note of how they respond to it. This can help clue you in on what things they value and those they aren't as interested in focusing on during class.

Naturally you will still want to make sure you are giving your adult students the type of feedback that will improve their dancing and prevent any injury or bad habits that can result from improper technique. That said, if you can determine each adult student's individual reasons for joining your class, it will allow you to better tailor their experience, and help them achieve their personal dance-related goals.

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The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

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