Health & Body

Here's How to Deal if Your Teacher Doesn't Like You


It's tricky to figure out how to relate to a strict dance teacher. Not every teacher and student will jibe in the classroom, and students hoping to make it as professional dancers need to develop thick skins to be able to deal with demanding directors and choreographers later on. But instructors who target or ignore you inappropriately can be detrimental to your training—and your emotional well-being. "I'm so tense when I'm with a teacher who's intimidating," says Allison Forderkonz, a dancer in Liverpool, NY. "I spend the whole class worrying that I'll disappoint them and get yelled at." How can you cope with these awkward—and sometimes worse than awkward—situations? We asked experts, and dancers who've been there, for advice.

Communicate with Someone You Trust

Issues with your teacher can't be resolved if you keep your feelings bottled up inside. "The first thing to do is talk with a parent or guardian," says Dr. Kate Hays, a sports and performance psychologist. Tell him or her how you're feeling in class and why. Does the teacher give you too many or not enough corrections? Do you feel the teacher yells at you? Are hurtful comments being made? Hash out the situation together.

Ask a friend whether she's noticed the teacher picking on or ignoring you. "One of my classmates tries to joke about always being put in the back corner in dances, but I know it's a sensitive subject for her," Forderkonz says. If your friend agrees with how you feel, ask if she can be with you when you talk to your parents. Having a witness to bolster your account will show them your situation is serious.

Let Your Feelings Be Known

Once you've talked out your feelings with your parents, consider speaking directly with the teacher. If your conflict is relatively minor, that might be the simplest way to fix classroom issues. "One of my preteen students felt picked on in class," says Angela Bates Majewski, of Angela Bates Dance Academy in Newtown Square, PA. "She and her parent approached me about it, and we decided I wouldn't correct her aggressively until she was ready. Two years later, they approached me again wanting me to push her in her technique."

But if your situation is intense enough that you'd be uncomfortable speaking to your instructor, make the studio administrator or owner aware of the problem. He or she can act as mediator, providing support to both you and the teacher. "As a studio owner, when I'm approached about a student, I'll always talk to the teacher about the issue," Majewski says. "Most of my teachers are taken aback and immediately want to fix the problem." Don't want to feel singled out? Ask the owner to bring up the issue without citing your name.

Have a Personal Plan

If, even after mediation and discussion, you and your teacher still aren't getting along, assess the seriousness of the situation. Is it unpleasant but not overwhelming? In that case, come up with ways to feel more comfortable in the classroom. Create a silent signal that you can send to a friend when you're feeling picked on or ignored, so she can stand next to you and offer quiet support. Imagery can also help. "Wrap yourself in an imaginary invisibility cloak, which can act as an emotional barrier," suggests Dr. Hays. "If your teacher yells at you, the cloak can dial down the noise. If the teacher is highly critical, the cloak can filter out the nasty parts and let the useful information come through."

But if the problem continues to escalate, or if it's affecting your progress, consider switching classes or studios. Leaving your dance friends may be difficult, but if your teacher conflict is unresolvable, getting out could be healthier for you and your dance career. Ask the owner if there's another class at the studio you might try. If that's not an option, it might be time to shop around for other studios.

Show Comments ()
Dance News
American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin (courtesy ABT)

Last May, we told you about a special exhibition of the Mark Ryden artwork that sparked Alexei Ratmansky's sweet-treat of a ballet, Whipped Cream. Well, hold on to your tiaras, bunheads, because there's a brand-new exhibit featuring actual costumes from this megahit production. The Nutcracker's Land of Sweets has some serious competition!

Keep reading... Show less
via @kyle_vanny on Instagram competing on World Of Dance

Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
University of Minnesota Dance Team (courtesy University of Minnesota)

They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.

Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.

These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.

Keep reading... Show less
How To
(Nathan Sayers)

Turnout—a combination of rotational flexibility and the strength to properly hold that rotation—is the foundation of ballet. But it's also a source of frustration for many dancers. After all, not everyone (actually, hardly anyone) is born with 180-degree rotation. “When I first started dancing, my hip flexors were strong, but I was forcing my turnout without using the right muscles," remembers Amanda Cobb, a former dancer with The Washington Ballet.

The good news is that it's possible to both improve your turnout and to dance beautifully with less-than-perfect rotation. But there's a lot of misinformation out there about how turnout works and why it's important. To help separate fact from fiction, DS asked the experts to disprove six turnout myths.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Videos
Lol, same. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Picture this: You've scored tickets to Ellen DeGeneres' hit show, "Ellen." The day has come, the show is as hysterical as ever, Ellen is debating the biggest hot-button issue since the blue/black or white/gold dress, "Laurel vs. Yanny" (side note: it's LAUREL, people), and tWitch is killing it over at the DJ booth, as always. Ellen decides it's the perfect time to single out an audience member and, lo and behold, that person is "SYTYCD" champ ( and December 2017 cover star!) Lex Ishimoto.

Keep reading... Show less
Ema Peter

The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is the 54,000 square foot home of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, one of the largest facilities dedicated to dance on a private university campus. Designed for their innovative new curriculum, that supports a range of dance styles, the school's staff designated Harlequin to provide wall-to-wall flooring for the large 3,500 square foot Performance Studio as well as five dance studios in their new state-of-the-art building.

Keep reading... Show less
Editors’ List: The Goods
Marilyn knows what's up.

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, it's safe to say that faux-diamond earrings are a dancer's best friend. A fixture onstage at just about every competition weekend, these blinged-out baubles are also the surest sign that recital season is upon us again. And what better way to get into the sparkly spirit than by drooling over these 5 diamonds in the rough? (Sorry not sorry!)

Keep reading... Show less

DancerPalooza, America's Largest Dance Festival, is moving to sunny SAN DIEGO, California from July 24-29, 2018.

Check out all of the NEW Intensives DancerPalooza has to offer this year!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
And yes, they've still got the moves.

"Alright"? More like *AMAZING.*

Keep reading... Show less
Kevin Hart takes first position with members of L.A. Ballet (via YouTube)

You could say that a perk of dancing with Los Angeles Ballet is its proximity to Hollywood. It's no wonder, then, that when actor and comedian Kevin Hart was looking for someone to teach ballet lessons for his new "What the Fit" YouTube show, he reached out to the nearby company. The series follows Hart and his celebrity friends as they try different forms of exercise (such as sumo wrestling and goat yoga), with hilarious results. For his ballet episode, Hart brings along Hangover star Ken Jeong—and the dancers do their best to keep these madcap comedians under control.

Keep reading... Show less


Want to Be on Our Cover?





Get Dance Spirit in your inbox