Blog 57: Is a natural creative the best teacher?

ballet class ballet teachers creative creative teachers naturally creative May 11, 2023

A pianist's simple observations from years of accompanying ballet!

After all the years of ballet class accompanying, one of my favourite classes is still when students are asked to be creative. The tangible fear or pure ecstasy that I see in their faces when the demand for creativity is given to them is striking!You know what I'm talking about right?!

Whether it's creative movement to something I'm making up (often younger dancers) OR creating exercises for a student led barre, I love watching dancers be forced to get creative. Some of them have been waiting for what feels like their WHOLE LIFE to finally be creative (HELLO future choreographers and teachers!) while others would rather die. Being creative is the LAST thing in the world that they want to do, that's why they're training in ballet, so they can be told what to do and don't have to be creative. lol.

The interesting part about this conversation is that once upon a time, every teacher of today was a young dancer. Which dancer were you?

Does it thrill you when you get to choreograph or create unset class? Does it bring you great joy to listen to music, hear the phrasing and accents in it and create an exercise that maximizes what you're hearing while targeting the skill development that you're wanting to work on in your dancers?

I feel like some teachers become teachers because they didn't make it as a dancer. Many, in fact. It's not that they hate teaching, BUT, being creative and strategic isn't necessarily their strong suit. These teachers learn to love teaching, BUT, their greatest vice is often creating unset classes. It's hard. Time consuming. Brain draining. These teachers often prefer to use syllabus because, let's be honest, it's way easier than coming up with the exercises, the music etc for an unset class.

Now one might argue that the teacher that is naturally creative will be the better teacher. I'm not sure that's true.

Here's my thoughts, the people who have to take time to LEARN strategy, creativity, musicality, technical development will often do a more thorough job as a teacher because they've learn how to do ALL the things and incorporate it to train a complete dancer.

The teacher who comes by creativity naturally, doesn't struggle with hearing music, will appear to be such a natural teacher that they seem to not need the personal development. While learning from them might be thrilling and studio owners will be impressed with their young protege teacher, the buzz is will be short lived as their long term dancer development, strategy, technical build-up, knowledge of body physicality, music theory understanding and musical prowess will cap out quickly. Great choreographer, creative, but not necessarily a great long term ballet teacher.

This blog post comes from thoughts mulling in my head as I watch studios owners looking to hire ballet teachers for the fall. The bright and wonderful energy of a natural creative is amazing to tap into but I strongly recommend that you aim to retain teachers who have invested in personal development. Syllabus training. Technical development of the body training. Music education like The OMTC that perfectly guides teachers through music types and rhythms and how to maximize using them in class.(I'm considering posting a list of graduates simply for public recognition of their accomplishments and skills!)

Teachers that have invested time and effort into this kind of personal development have a long game in mind for your studio and dancers that you don't want to miss out on! Pure Gold!

I KNOW that there are amazing ballet teachers in the world that have invested in the professional development and training and have deep love for young dancers and their personal development as a dancer. In fact, I'd say most, if not all of the ballet teachers I work with come with that personal commitment to excellence!

In conclusion, after all my thoughts meandering onto the page, I'd venture to say that the dream teacher is a creative who's been humble enough to recognize the value of further personal development and put the effort into technique, music, physicality, etc training!

P.S. Ballet Teachers, this is for you! If you're a great teacher but you struggle with being creative for unset classes, I recommend that you grab my brand new resource for ballet teachers. It's the Unset Exercise and Music Tool! I took the most common music types used in ballet class and organized them by exercise type that they're good for so you can spend your time creating exercises instead of stressing about music! It's even divided by meter so if it's important to you to make sure you're changing up your class and not getting stuck in one meter, this document is absolutely hot potatoes! If you like, there is an optional add-on list of pianists who have ballet class albums (great for teachers who want new music!)



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