A Question Of Formality


By this point, I’ve had a handful of ballet teachers, ranging from somewhat old school to casual, and I would definitely say that I’ve learned something from every single one.  However, sometimes there are things that differ from teacher to teacher – and I don’t just mean the style of ballet – and sometimes things get a little confusing for me. (This is the me who is terrible at interpreting social cues, remember that!)

From my more old school teachers especially, I’ve learned a lot about ballet class etiquette.  But I guess where the confusion sets in is when I’m taking class with a more laid back teacher. I know common sense etiquette, like don’t talk while the teacher is talking, not letting your cell phone go off, or don’t show up twenty minutes late and disrupt the whole class while you get settled in, would apply anyway. Don’t those things kind of apply to classes that are not ballet – or even dance – after all?

One of my teachers told the class that it is expected that after class every student should personally thank the teacher (and accompanist, if applicable). Ok, I took that as a hint, and whenever I take class with that teacher I would always make sure to do so.  But with my more casual teachers, I don’t.

You may be wondering ‘what’s the problem, then?’. Well, as it often is, the problem is other people (LOL). I’ve been noticing that some – not all – of the other studets will run up at the end of class after reverance to personally thank the casual teacher – with a little curtsey and everything. Since I’ve been taking class with her for a while (long before these other students came to that class), and she never told us that she expected this (or even that this is something common), I’m not in the habit of doing it. However, I’m feeling like maybe I should (at the very least, to show that I have manners)? At the same time, it’s a little awkward because that’s not really the dynamic in that class. At least, I didn’t think that was the dynamic in that class…

I guess what I’m asking is, should I emulate the other students even though that isn’t the way things were done in that teacher’s class the other sessions I’ve had with her? Can the dynamic of a teacher’s class sometimes change and you didn’t even realize it?

Or, as things often are, am I overthinking it?

On a completely different note, apparently the reason WordPress was glitching for me was because they changed the user interface again –  and I absolutely HATE it! Why must they keep trying to fix something that’s not broken?!

13 thoughts on “A Question Of Formality

  1. nadiainherownworld

    This reminds me of when I got to college and found out that some people say “thank you” to professors after academic classes–I had no idea that this was a thing outside of dance (is it a thing?)

    In terms of ballet though, I usually opt for thanking the teacher if I’m in doubt.

    1. kit Post author

      I’ve heard people thank the professors after a college class too. I mean, there’s been times when I felt like I wanted to thank them, like after a especially inspiring lecture. I guess now that I think about it, the first time I noticed it I was a litle shocked – like I couldn’t imagine thanking the teacher after a high school class.
      If it’s a new teacher or a teacher that I know prefers to be thanked, I make sure to thank them. But I guess I feel it gets weird for me when it’s a teacher that is … I don’t know quite how to put it … I guess less intimidating.
      With a scarier teacher, I’ve always felt like it was thanking them for putting up with my horrible dancing and not throwing me out of class. Maybe I’m just weird…

  2. Sarah Doudna

    Well I have definitely taken class in the past and not thanked the teacher because I wasn’t in his or her “in crowd” or others were talking to the teacher and I didn’t want to interrupt. But I usually try to thank the teacher because I think it’s nice and also because now that I teach it is really nice when students thank me for class. As a teacher I like it.

    1. kit Post author

      Yes, that’s the other thing – I don’t want to interrupt the teacher, but I feel like it would be rude to just leave.
      Personally, I like it when there’s no line, so I get to ask the teacher questions AND thank them. But I think it was the running up to her to curtsy more than the verbal thanking that I’m wondering if I should join in on.
      It’s nice to get a teacher point of view on this!

      1. Sarah Doudna

        If someone leaves without saying thank you I assume they have to leave and don’t want to wait, so I wouldn’t worry you are being rude. But be true to yourself. If the curtseying thing feels too ‘cutesy’, skip it. I love getting to interact with my students.

  3. asher

    OMG, yes, the new interface is a huge step backwards. It looks “sleeker,” maybe, but lacks functionality the last major change preserved.

    I was in a similar vague place last week after Intermediate Class at the Joffrey. A few people dashed off (presumably to catch trains); the rest cued up to thank the teacher … but it got weird, because most were regulars and wound up chatting for a while, and I found myself wondering if I should go because I didn’t want to hold up the next class, but rooted to my spot because, at home, I always thank whoever’s teaching. When a gap finally opened I did this awkward bow-gracefully-then-wave-like-a-four-year-old thing before sprinting over to the bench where I then fought with my dance bag for what felt like an hour. Good times.

    That said, at home, I’m one of the people who wind up chatting with the teacher forever while shy or new people slowly wilt in the back of the queue, so I guess that’s instructive for me.

    I figure that running up to offer a curtsey can’t hurt. I don’t think anyone had ever been consigned to the inferno for excessive gratitude! 🙂

    1. kit Post author

      As dumb as it sounds, I’m glad someone agrees with me about the new interface!
      I usually linger around to ask the teacher questions (at least the teacher I was mostly referring to in the post), and I try to always say goodbye as well as thank them for any additional tips they’ve given me. I’ve ran up and curtsey (curtsied?) for other teachers before. I think my confusion was just because this particular teacher seems to have a more laid back attitude, and it’s difficult for me to play the part of “old school ballet student” when the teacher is not all “old school ballet teacher” (which is what I love about her! So then I’m not intimidated to ask questions.)

  4. Trippmadam

    I find that difficult, too. As a child I learned to always thank the teacher after class. I usually still do it, but not always in the same way. With younger and less formal teachers, or if the teacher seems to be somewhat busy, I may just wave goodbye and mouth “thank you” in their direction. Older teachers in my country usually expect students to come over, say thank you and shake hands, and they will thank the students for their efforts and their attention, too. This year I attended a workshop, and something strange happened. The teacher who was about sixty years old, was very strict, but also very friendly during class. After class I went to thank her and she was clearly not interested. I did not even get a reply. So, on the following days, I did not bother with saying goodbye or thank you. Perhaps she just wanted to be left alone after class.

    1. kit Post author

      Huh, that IS strange! Was the workshop teacher equally wanting to be left alone by everyone, or did she seem to have a clique of followers? I’ve taken class before with a teacher who was only available to speak with students she knew or thought she saw potential in (so I got ignored).
      The teacher I was mostly referring to in the post doesn’t flat out ignore the thanking students, but it’s more of a “oh no, no need to come over and thank me!” kind of thing. But these students keep doing it – I guess that’s what they were taught. Since I didn’t enter the ballet world until relatively late in my life, I guess that’s why it’s much less of an automatic reflex for me. For me it’s more of a “I should go thank her, but I don’t want to be over the top, and I’m shy…”

      1. Trippmadam

        She did have a clique of followers who had been studying with her for years. All of them danced very well. I was the new one, but she seemed quite happy with what I did in class. Actually, her clique seemed to be somewhat jealous because she gave a lot of attention to me. I was grateful, because I found her corrections clear, useful and easy to follow. So, I felt like I had to thank her for the trouble she was taking to help me.

  5. wedoballet

    I’m of the position that saying “thank you” is good manners. Some teachers demand it as proper etiquette like we do with little kids (in BoyMowgli’s classes they still form a line by the piano to thank the musician then file over to their teacher and are dismissed individually after they’ve said thanks), others are satisfied to let you have whatever manners you have because you’re grown… but it doesn’t make it any more polite to leave with “thank you” unsaid.
    I was also taught to say “thank you” any time I was given a personal correction during class. The post-class thank you is like the thanks for all the other tidbits I’ve picked up from the group.

    1. kit Post author

      Defiitely agree that saying “thank you” is good manners. However, I think I’ll stick with a verbal thak you unless it’s a more old school teacher that expects a little more formality (curtseys and such).
      I also have to work on saying “thank you” after a personal correction. Usually I’m so flustered that I go “oh, ok!” but I can see now that I may have been dropping the ball on that one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s