Thoughts from A Guest-Teaching Gig

Last week I had the pleasure of guest-teaching an intermediate-level ballet class at a local studio. It’s been a while since I taught ballet, and I was nervous I would forget the correct terms/tell a dumb joke to a crowd of teenagers/generally make a fool of myself. But luckily, it went rather well!

And in the process, I noticed a handful of interesting things.

  1. I talk a lot.
    Not much to add here. I have many thoughts. I like to share them–though I do try to stick to the “talk less, dance more” motto.
  2. I can’t really plan a full class.

And this isn’t from lack of trying! I’m Ravenclaw Secondary (more on that here), I make lists and plans, my brain has a built-in Excel module. But every time I’ve tried to write down a full class, I always end up going “huh?” halfway through the actual teaching and ditching my notes. It’s the one place I prefer to go off-the-cuff and play off what the students are giving me. I benefit from planning themes and ideas, but I really do enjoy seeing where the class takes us.

3.Ballet classes need to be 2 hours.

There’s just no way around this. You simply cannot fit everything in under that length. Yes, I’m sure there are accomplished professionals who can creatively squish all the necessary exercises into a shorter time, but for students–particularly teenagers–they need the full two hours. The problem really arises in the center, as I would prefer to repeat adagio, turns, and jump combinations twice–once to get the steps, another to work on corrections and to build stamina. But, with only an hour and a half, we didn’t have time to get to grande allegro–one of my favorite things!

4. I’m never going to be the hard-ass.

I was raised in a studio that had high expectations and higher competition. I will forever be thankful and grateful for the training I received, but it wasn’t without its stress and anxiety. I myself have high expectations of my students, and recognize the value of tough love and pushing people farther than they think they can go, but I also don’t want to make them miserable. And I like telling jokes too much. There’s a balance to be struck between strict and entertaining, and I hope over the coming years I can hone that edge so as to be both memorable and educational.

So that’s a collection of thoughts from my stint as a guest teacher! I like teaching dance a lot more than my teenage self imagined, and I hope I have more opportunities to do so in the future.

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