Bree, 25, adult-lite, professional writer/reporter/editor for a group of magazines in Toronto.
5'6", she/her/hers pronouns, bi, cis, skinny, white, arms roughly one metre long each. Vegan, cat-mother, WLU Grad, dance teacher, choreographer. Lover of healthy food, animals of all kinds, skateboarding, longboarding, rock and roll, plaid shirts, pretty girls, men with beards, hockey, climbing. Climbing is my life. I cannot overstate the importance of it. Pro-feminist. Anti-radfem. What some might call a "genderist."
You don’t have to be a professional dancer, you’re right about it. Her upper body placement slacks a bit. I think when she was younger and didn’t have such long limbs she never had to worry about being well-aligned and now it’s a challenge for her. Hopefully the next studio will help her out on it.
I think the kids are very talented but I think they’re pushed to accelerate too fast. Also I do not like their choreography at all. It’s not artistic whatsoever. And I think their choreography for the kids is far too inappropriate. It makes me angry.
The actual straw that broke the camel’s back was a student who chose to mouth off at me in class, then proceeded to tell the studio administration that I screamed at her and was all sorts of unprofessional, and the studio owner chose to (in front of the student) undermine me and tell me I was wrong. But there was a lot of crap going on leading up to that. I think they’re a terrible example of what a studio should be.
I actually have a list written down because I had a friend who wanted to enroll her daughter and I was like “NOOOOOOO DON’T HERE’S WHY.”
• The staff is 100% amateur, including the artistic director. No major dance performance experience and no major teaching credentials or affiliations, or post-secondary dance education.
• The studio is opposed to dance exams.
• Artistic director claims to have been an advanced tap and ballet dancer but adamantly refuses to teach either.
• The studio frequently cancels its technical classes in favour of competition rehearsals, then complains when they are given low marks on technique.
• Very little proper terminology is taught and the artistic director openly does not care about terminology.
• Artistic director is not hands-on — spends most of her lessons sitting in the corner, giving verbal instructors with limited physical demonstrations save for choreography.
• “Technique” and conditioning classes are more than just hard work, they’re repetitive physical challenges that force the children to over-exert themselves. Their conditioning focuses more on the students simply becoming skinny, not on functional strength designed for dancers.
• Past physical challenges (such as “do continuous rises onto your toes for as long as possible until your legs give out”) have reduced students to tears or impeded their ability to walk after class.
• Dancers are advanced too quickly in terms of technique without learning proper foundation (i.e. turns). There are dancers doing (improper) a la seconde turns who are still unable to do clean double pirouettes.
• Teaching is very “trick-based” and measures improvement by singular achievements (i.e. “Susie got her aerial!”) rather than subtle improvements.
• Acrobatics is over-emphasized in the curriculum.
• Competitive students only take 60 minutes of ballet per week.
• Artistic Director showed no concern that senior dancers who were beginners on pointe were dancing in shoes that had literally been broken, with shoes that were more than a year old and entirely too soft. She refused to ask the parents to get their students new shoes despite being made aware of the damage that could have been caused to the feet.
• Hard-working students are never recognized for their work and are regarded as “not improving” if they haven’t achieved flashy acro tricks.
• The children run the show here — they are allowed to get away with being rude and disrespectful.
• There is no monitoring of the children, who will sometimes take up to 10 minutes in the change room, behaviour that has been allowed to continue for three years. At the age the students are at, discipline should be expected and dancers should not be chased after.
• Studio policies are unclear, possibly non-existent and made up on the fly.
• Students spent more than a year learning on a hard, cement floor unfit for physical activity.
• No ballet-friendly dress code is enforced. Students enter class looking unprofessional and wearing clothes that make it difficult to observe their form.
• Director often keeps students late in her classes such as acrobatics and rehearsals but refuses to allow ballet and tap to run even five minutes long to compensate for lost time.
• Showcases are poorly organized. Emcee for 2014 competitive showcase was asked to emcee no more than ten minutes before the show.
• The achievements of the competitive team are misrepresented. The director has in the past referred to dancers winning “first place” but neglecting to mention that it was in their category, not the overall age division. It is also problematic because she does not mention that the dances win in the “novice” category, which is important to note (they are not beating kids who have been dancing 10+ years… they are beating kids who have been dancing one year). Additionally she refers to dances as “overall award winning” when they simply placed in the top ten.
• The studio and team as a whole seems like more of a vanity project for the artistic director rather than a genuine wish to inspire young dancers. She has students dance to her own original songs in what seems like a strange attempt for publicity and she has admitted privately that she feels like the position is limiting her from pursuing her singing career, and seems to consider the commitment a burden.