Thursday, March 26, 2009

Austin Dance Instruction - teaching to the test.

Is it too much to ask to find a dance class that DOESN'T spend the last 4 MONTHS of the class season preparing for the end of season recital?! Giselle's class hasn't done bar exercises since December. They haven't reviewed the foot and arm positions since before Christmas. It's been at least that long since they've practices demi and grand plies. And I know this because I'm sitting there watching the 45 min class every week. Since the beginning of the year all they've done is learn the recital dance bit by bit and now that it's just a month away they spend the whole class doing the whole routine over and over and over. All this for 5 minute routines that all of the classes will perform for all the parents at a performing arts center ($45 performance fee per family) while wearing $58 costumes that won't ever be worn again by anybody (all new costumes every year for all new routines every year at every dance academy in town so it's no use trying to re-sell them on Craigslist).
The dance academies are teaching to the test, just like every public school in the US is currently doing up until the annual assessment tests every spring. I don't care if she passes the test, I care that she's learned what she needs to know to move on to the next level; whether we're talking about ballet or math. Either she knows it or she doesn't and no fancy performance with flashy costumes and lights and loud music is going to hide the fact that these little girls still can't do a grand plie without sticking their bottoms out.

What I would be OK with:
- I would be VERY OK with no performance at all! Just have the parents come in on the last day of class and watch the girls show off everything that they've learned over the past 9 months. No extra money needed for a performance hall or costumes, no time taken away from regular class and learning what they should be learning.

- I would be OK with each level of each dance class performing the same routine every year so that the costumes could be reused year after year after year for a $15 rental fee. Every year Beginning Ballet does a scene from The Nutcracker, Ballet 1 does a scene from Swan Lake, Tap 2 does a scene from Cabaret, Jazz does a scene from West Side Story, etc. It would be much easier for the dance academies to keep track of and it would be much easier for the parents' wallets.

- I would be OK with them practicing the routine once at the beginning of class and once at the end with them spending the rest of class actually learning the basics of the class.

I'm not happy about the thought of changing dance schools again but after just 2 years I'm already tired of this over-blown, over-produced, over-priced recital thing every year. I'm going to see if I can find a ballet class in town that actually teaches the girls ballet all 9 months long without a fancy recital at the end so that we can actually get our money's worth. Forget this "all fluff and no substance" stuff!

And I'm well aware that we could just not "do" the recital to save money but she'd still be 'wasting' every class for 4 months learning the recital routine instead of learning and practicing and perfecting basic ballet.

1 comment:

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