Ballet Etiquette Tip #3 – When To Ask A Question

Everyone learns in different ways and according to www.learning-styles-online.com, there are seven defined styles. They include visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. In the dance world, we rely heavily on the majority of these styles. However, students are usually discourages to use their voice in a dance class. In this blog, I intend to help you know when it’s okay to talk and ask question in class.
As an inquisitive young dancer, I was often told “this is not the time for questions” or “shhh!” Needless to say I was usually embarrassed and felt reprimanded for trying to understand. Gradually I did learned when to ask questions and what was appropriate to ask, but it wasn’t until I began teaching that I fully mastered the art of asking questions.
Here’s what you need to know:
At The Barre & In The Center
1. Is your question more of a comment or realization?
Yes – Then keep it to yourself. Write it down in a notebook or share it with a friend after class.
2. Does your question pertain to the order of the choreography?
Yes – Raise your hand and ask for the teacher to repeat the combination. *Note* Never say you don’t get it. Teachers hate to hearing that statement. So formulate an intelligent question about what you don’t understand.
3. Do you have a question about how to perform a particular step?
Yes – Chances are your not alone, especially if it’s a new step or a tricky transition. Raise you hand and ask the teacher to perform that step slower. If you’re still having trouble after completing the exercise, make a mental note. Then, at the end of class try practicing the step on your own or find a friend to practice with you.
Across The Floor
1. Has your teacher shown the combination several times and you still don’t understand the transition or order?
Yes – Here’s a situation where you need to access the environment. Since your teacher has repeatedly gone over the combination and you’re still stuck, it’s up to you to find the answer to your question. If you don’t know what you’re doing, by all means don’t go first! Find a place near the end of the line to watch and practice with the first few group.
2. When you went across the floor did you bump into someone?
Yes – After you have finished the combination across the floor, you can quietly apologies and see if you can adjust your position for the next time around. *Note* People bump into each other all the time. Don’t make a big scene by shouting sorry or another sh-word while dancing.
3. Has class finished and you’re still not satisfied with a step or correction?
Yes – Now’s your chance for some real one on one time with your teacher. Approach them after class and ask if they have a moment to help you out. Even if the teacher is unavailable at the time, letting them know your concern will make them aware to watch you next class.
Always remember to access the question and environment before asking. Class time is limited, so weeding out questions that can be answered by observation should be kept to yourself. If for some reason your teacher did not see you had a question, only then is it okay to quietly ask your neighbor. However, I caution you to do so only at the correct time. For example, as you’re walking to the corner to prepare for a combination or if the teacher gives you prep-time to practice. Questions are a part of the learning process. To ignore or to discourage verbal interaction in class is a little old school, but it still exists in some places. If you’re being respectful and still feel like you can’t ask a a question, then maybe it’s time to seek out private classes or a new studio.