Collective Wisdom | Classroom Connection: Trading Places

Ideas and advice from teachers

There is nothing better than a faculty that works together like a well-oiled machine.

Individual teachers can support each other within their own classrooms by creating lesson plans that support and echo each other’s work. Around mid-year, I’ll sometimes invite other classes to visit mine and share their recital or competition dances. Since I have many of these same students in my ballet classes, I look closely to see what technical concepts their other teachers are addressing. After that I’ll often plan my lessons to parallel and support that work. It’s amazing how concepts “click” when students hear more than one teacher say the same thing, but in a different way.

A studio owner I once worked with would often ask me to attend a competition solo or ensemble rehearsal to serve as a fresh eye and give notes from a ballet perspective. Students (and faculty) who hear a work addressed from varied perspectives may open their minds to thoughts and issues they hadn’t previously considered. (To avoid critiquing a piece’s artistry and stepping on anyone’s toes, I will reference one part of the piece and ask the students to discuss their own work within the piece or what was intended.)

At many ballet companies, multiple people work to set, clean, and coach performances. High school dance teams also commonly employ several coaches who work side by side as they each consider a different aspect of a performance, from timing to precision to technique to formations.

Why shouldn’t studio teachers help each other mount their dances? —Casey C. Davenport


Davenport teaches ballet in the Portland, Oregon, area and is the founder of the Facebook page Ballet Teachers Unite!