Group Lessons

Dance Class Confidential

Dance class confidential - Why is there a group class and why are there so many students in a group?

Teacher’s personal opinion on ‘from within’ process, does not attempt to make comments on any others.

Each teacher‘s style of teaching is different. Some of us like to work in small groups and others are able to handle larger groups. When kids are beginners, they cannot really dance for a whole hour. This art is not like Music or playing an instrument. If you continuously dance a same step for a whole hour, that is not going to make you a better dancer. It will result in fatigue and lowering of interest in dance.

The benefits of a larger group are that

Children can learn from each other and are aware of the steps that are coming and that helps speed up the learning process through observation. They learn without much effort and are able to note what looks more beautiful and pick that up on their own.

The class is affordable to more students. If your child is learning with others, the teacher is able to lower the fees for all.

The children are not under pressure and truly learn to enjoy the movement and practice it over a longer period time and perfect through repetition. If the teacher is looking only at one child and constantly pointing out mistakes to make the step perfect in one class, the child will get frustrated. It is better to divide the teacher’s energies among a larger group.

(The reason for requesting that the parent do not force the child to practice and formally check up on the child is the same. If the parent is making it a regimen for the child to dance and keeps pushing her, the child will think of dance class exactly like going to school and taking exams. I do not enjoy teaching such students. The child who is 10 has to behave like a child who is 10. Not like a serious adult set to achieve results. If you are one of those parents, please excuse me but this is an activity for pleasure and happiness. While I understand your drive to make your child the best he or she can be, this is truly an art for pursuit of happiness not success. This is not like sports, it is more like an effort for longer term discipline and spiritual realization. Success is simply incidental. This is for stress relief and should not be a stressful activity. If your child is stressed about a program and is practicing continuously for long hours, then something is wrong. If she cannot sleep because of excitement, we are on the right track. No amount of your coaxing and pressure is going to make your child a better dancer. Also, please note that all children bloom at different times. If you and your friend joined in the class at the same time, that does not mean they will dance at the same standard at the same time. Physical ability, individual maturity, passion for the form, and individual enjoyment of the dance will make big difference in the quality of the dance. She has to enjoy the dance ‘from within’. And once she does, even if you stop her and the whole world gets together to stop her, you can’t.)

If your child is dancing without you requesting her to, that is a good sign. Please try not to stop it. But if it gets to be too much, do let her know otherwise her husband will have the same problem ✍

If the teacher has too small of a group, it is a time waste for the teacher because the progress in a class for each student is fairly limited. If there is one student and stays for a one hour class, it does not mean that the child will learn more steps. If there is a larger group, the whole group gets better with their older lessons and the deserving students learn new steps.

When the child gets older and better, the teacher will automatically adjust the class to suit the child’s needs – like I have done with the first set. They learn faster and more things in a class than the other two sets. Also, expressive dancing explores feelings and the individual personality of the dancer is involved. When learning Abhinayam, the teacher will give 1:1 or small group instruction.

I am not sure other Bharatanatyamteachers explain these things but I just want to clarify to you all. I am not talking any theory here. I have experienced all this myself firsthand and that is what I am sharing with you. I learnt dance in a similar group and did pretty good for myself.

The down side to teaching a really large group in the long run is that there will not be so many dancing opportunities for all of them. If there are too many dancers, there will be no market demand for all their shows. If there are shows with 75 dancers on stage, no one will remember what they saw except the child’s parents. While it is true that we should give everyone an opportunity, bharatanatyam is a solo art,,. This is one of the main reasons why I consciously chose not to train more dancers in this area. The teacher also cannot spend a lot of time imparting higher quality training to the really talented, advanced level girls after they finish their arangetramsbecause she will always have to spend time on the new comers. (Some teachers are forced to do this out of their personal circumstances. Parents should not hold all teachers against this standard. ) There will simply be too many dancers and I will contribute to the mediocre standards. My teachers taught me not to teach like that. By God’s grace, I hope, my current students will represent my life’s work.

Since we are all in America and there is a direct ever questioning attitude and a demand for demonstrating value and exhibiting professionalism in everything you do, I am making this attempt to explain myself. I clearly realize that this is not like teaching dance in India to a group of parents who simply send their child to class and hope things will turn out alright.

There is no blind reverence for the teacher. Nobody is above anybody is the attitude. Teacher is good at dance and we are good at other things… that is all… This is actually really good and that is why I am also writing notes to explain myself. ✍

I understand that all of us have limited time and each parent has the pressure to make sure that their child is able to pursue their hobbies to the best of their abilities and if possible earn a few certificates and stage show experiences in the process. ALL parents are super intelligent and want to make sure they are engaged in their child’s development process.

I hope you are able to see my point of view and I am able to make you a little more comfortable about our processes and our class so that you can be really sure that this works for you.

Sincerely,

Subha

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