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What Are You Buying - An Education or An Experience?


It seems like everyone these days is getting on the “Lets do a seminar/conference bandwagon. There are as many “Master classes” and "Certifications in__(fill in the blank) as there are cold cereals in the aisle at the grocery store, and unless you really know the person/organization and know what type of experience you are looking for, you may just be throwing your money down the proverbial toilet.


Content isn’t primarily about the person giving it…it’s about the quality and usefulness of the material being given, about how far this material is going to impact and give further value to your future endeavors.


I have both participated and watched others participate in weekend “Intensives” where promises were implied in the titles that if you attended you would become a world class this or a champion that based on the celebrity of the person running the program – NOT on the success rate of the program/information itself to produce said description.


The intensives/seminars were fun, they got people excited and some people connected with others and some tips were exchanged…and you went away feeling energized (all good things!); - but as the weeks and months went by, think back, did it revolutionize your technique, or your perspective; did you come away with the afore mentioned implied promises any closer at hand?


I used the word “experience” as this is exactly what I meant – current marketing practices extend to “people as brands”- It’s the person/celebrity that you are going to experience…you might come away with a great feeling and a few cool tips, but is the long term value worth what you paid?  Did you really get out of it what was advertised?  I’m not knocking paying for an experience…it’s just different than an education. Experiences can go a long way to change our perspective on ourselves our sport/art and those around us, so all these things can and are positive. But, education has to do with intellectual and practical content – methodical, comprehensive, applicable, and transferable intellectual content. Material (meaning accurate information as well as exercises and personal supervision)


Selling an experience is one thing (and an emotional boost might be just what you need…so then go!) But if you want an education go to a teacher - not a celebrity, go to someone who has taken the courses, understands pedagogy (how to teach/transfer methodology), done the homework, done the field work, put in the hours, months and years to bring you quality transferrable material- in other words substance vs. a feeling.


Whether it be a dancer, gymnast, skater, singer, musician, or fine artist…. The “celebrity” – is first and foremost either an artist or possibly one who merely has charisma – and is most often not trained as a teacher. For example, Mme. Alexandra Danilova - a wonderful artist with the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo whom I took classes under in the 1970’s, was also a wonderful “repetiteur” (one who passes along the nuances of a particular role to the next generation of dancers) but not, in my opinion, a good teacher, as she was truly a performer who had no understanding, nor did she feel the need to have, of how to teach methodology. In training, methodology comes before art – ALWAYS – and in this generation we all try to skip directly to the “art” – fun, but you can’t fool everyone with a thin veneer of “art”.


Artists and celebrities can give you performing experience and some of their charisma may rub off on you temporarily, but again, it is NOT Methodology – it is NOT an education, it is an experience. A few celebrities and artists go on to make fine teachers – but unless they have actually taken classes in methodology they will still merely be teaching you “what worked for them”.


Be aware and make an informed choice as to whether what you want is an Experience (temporary boost) or an Education (long term substance) – each has value…but

they are by no means equal.


On a personally note - Most ballet teachers, especially in the

U.S., have “learned” ballet only by taking classes and trying to remember how they were taught – this is not pedagogy and therefore often hit and miss. Even in most universities

the teachers have not had pedagogy classes in ballet but are speaking merely from personal experiences (which can differ greatly from person to person).

It is often said that the Vaganova Method speaks for itself - the better the teacher is at communicating the pre-designed methodology – the better the students will become…simple as that, not magic, not charisma, not guesswork but the science behind the Method imparted to the students. THIS is what and how I teach whether it be through my books, the DVD, on line courses or in the classroom. Not tips and tricks, not just what worked for me but Pedagogy: transferrable material, knowledge that will equip you to teach anyone effectively and get visible results. It’s not my personality but the accuracy of imparting the information – what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it, what to look for (physical indications) and how to communicate effectively with your students.



© 2022 Annette T. Thomas and Prime Radiant Press LLC All rights reserved.

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