It’s amazing how far a little bit of communication goes to soothe concerns, ease bad feelings and boost your sense of well being. As you might have guessed, Julian’s evaluation at Teen Dance Company went quite well and helped not only him feel better about what he’s doing there and how his teachers are dealing with and viewing him, but it made his dad and I feel a lot better as well.
No, we didn’t storm in and ask that he be treated like a prince, and they didn’t offer to treat him like one either, but it turned out okay all the same. And they gave us 30 minutes rather than 15 minutes, as scheduled.
As I’ve said previously, we’d been feeling like he wasn’t “appreciated,” but, in fact, it turns out he is. (We should have known.) And, it seems, he’s cared for as well. We were shown by Mark Foehringer the exact issues he’s working on with Julian and why. We were given more information on why the modern teacher, Brian Fisher, doesn’t yet want to move Julian up to the higher class, and it’s not just that Julian doesn’t know enough modern technique either. (After all, he’s only been studying modern for two months.) He’s actually concerned Julian might get hurt if he puts him in the higher class. (I suppose the fact that he goes 110 percent when put with the “better” kids and doesn’t actually know what he’s doing 110 percent of the time could lead to injury.) Everyone wants to be sure Julian is doing things correctly and not moving forward with bad habits that later will be hard to break or that will cause him to get injured. (This speaks to the subject of moving slowly rather than quickly, something boys don’t like to do, which I will address in my next blog post.)
No one was jumping up and down and telling us how excited they were to have Julian in their company, but I suppose they can’t do that. They have to treat everyone equally. (Okay, I’m trying to be nice and play devil’s advocate to some extent here. I still want them jumping up and down, because I have, after all, brought them a boy, not to mention a boy with a fair amount of talent.) They did seem to indicate that they were pretty happy to have him with smiles and nods but no outright words when I said something that gave them a chance to actually do so. I’ll take that.
As for the actual evaluation, they told us Julian is doing well overall. And all the teachers enjoy having him in their classes. (And why shouldn’t they? He’s a pretty pleasant chap most of the time, unless you’re his mother hassling him about his bad grades. Then he becomes something quite the opposite.) And many of the issues they saw with his dance, such as tight hips, lack of flexibility and problems with control of his back, they mostly attributed to the huge amount of growing he seems to be doing. (I think he’s grown about six inches in the last four months.)
The really great part was that Mark was able to give Julian specific things to work on and accomplish so he can move up to the next levels in ballet. One, interestingly, had to do with musicality: actually doing his barr work with the music in mind. For example, not popping out of a plié but actually coming out of it with the music. Also, Darlene Castro-Easterling, who serves as the Pilates and tap instructor, said she will give Julian special stretching and strengthening exercises. Mark also will give Julian special stretching exercises.
Additionally, and this may be the best part of the whole meeting, when I brought up the fact that Julian is not getting to practice the “guy” ballet moves he already knows, nor is he learning any new ones, Mark jumped on this and solved the problem. While the girls are putting on their point shoes on Thursday nights, Julian will get 10 or 15 minutes alone with Mark to work on the “boy stuff.” Then, instead of being in the other “lower” ballet class that night, he will stay and do ballet with these girls, who are the really serious ballet students in the company, and Mark will carve out time for Julian to continue working on things that boys need to learn, such as partnering. Yahoo! How the class will be structured for him is a bit up in the air, since all these girls are on pointe, but I’m sure it will be fine.
So, we left with Julian feeling pretty good about things in general. He even said that after hearing Mark explain to him in more detail some of the thing he needs to correct in ballet, he understands better and feels more inclined to go to him after class and ask for that type of explanation again. That’s a great lesson in and of itself: knowing that a bit of one-on-one time with a teacher so you can get an explanation about a correction can help you correct it more quickly.
And mom and dad felt better, too. We felt that the teachers at TDC are looking out for our son, not just now but in terms of helping him develop as a dancer for the long haul, and that they enjoy and appreciate him. And they were responsive to his needs. We were told to trust them…I guess a bit of trust is a good thing, too.
All is well here…for now.
(Note: During the month of November I write and manage a blog called Write Nonfiction in November – http://writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com. It’s both a blog and a challenge to nonfiction writers, myself included, to start and finish a nonfiction writing project in 30 days. As you can imagine, between working on my own project and blogging – although I do have guest bloggers this year – this endeavor takes up a lot of my time. And I do also work as a freelance journalist and nonfiction book editor during November…life and work and driving kids to and from dance and swimming go on. So, if my posts in this blog get a bit less frequent this month, please understand and be patient. Don’t go away and not come back! I’ll be writing more often again in December. And if you come here and don’t find anything new to read, you can always find me at http://writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com or at http://purespiritcreations.com/wordpress, although that blog also will be taking a back seat to Write Nonfiction in November for the next 30 days.)