The third Q&A from dancers is about what to do about bullying teachers and coaches.
Question: Some young dancers unfortunately find themselves in unhealthy situations with coaches or teachers. Some may feel too attached to their school or coaches to be able to leave, but may actually feel bullied. What would you say to a young dancer in this kind of negative scenario?
Bullying teachers and coaches should not be allowed to teach vulnerable youngsters. Bullying by adults is a very difficult situation for a student to deal with.
This is not just a case for students because dancers in companies or shows can find the same situation with artistic directors, choreographers, ballet masters/mistresses. The artistic world is full of highly strung, emotional and sensitive people, where feelings can run high.
For the student or professional concerned the first thing is to learn about assertive communication. This is to do with asserting how the other person makes you feel with what they say/don’t say or do/don’t do. Learning how to stand up for yourself in a non-confrontational way. Assertive communication should always be delivered in a calm way: “What you have said to me is very upsetting for me, please don’t do it again” or “you will get more out of me if you don’t shout every time you correct me”. This is easier said than done. If you are a child/adolescent you are taught to respect our elders, but bullying needs to be challenged.
Ask for help
Go above the bullying teacher to the head of year or the head of the school/college and use assertive communication (see above). If that doesn’t
work then find another school. You or your parents can also report the school to the authority that licenses the school or college. It is doing you no good by staying in a bullying environment. You won’t fulfill your potential there, even if the school or college is considered the best in town. You may need parental help with these stages. If you have underlying attachment and/or low self-esteem issues then psychological therapy sessions will help you to see the right path for you. This will help you deal with any underlying issues that you are unconsciously holding on to.
I can use a personal example of a choreographer, who shall remain nameless. He choreographed Don Quixote for a ballet company I was working for at the time. He was rude, arrogant and a bully. During the period of rehearsals he got worse and worse with his temper tantrums. He didn’t calm down even after a number of complaints made via our ballet master. The ballet master had to interpret, as the choreographer didn’t speak English. Finally the whole company refused to work with him and he was asked to leave. Result!
Stand up to bullies but also seek professional help for your own underlying issues or email me for some advice by going to my website.