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The Hidden Dangers of Teaching Ballet to the Highest Denominator


Ballet, renowned for its discipline and precision, has long adhered to a teaching philosophy that focuses on challenging the highest achievers in the class. The belief has been that by pushing the boundaries of the most talented, the rest of the students would naturally rise to meet that standard. However, this approach, while effective for some, can prove detrimental to those struggling at the bottom of the class hierarchy.


Physical Risks:

1. Increased Injury Risk: Encouraging the lowest denominator to keep pace with advanced movements can lead to a higher risk of injuries. Students may attempt complex techniques they are not physically prepared for, resulting in incorrect execution and potential harm.

2. Compromised Technique: Pressuring students to match the skills of the highest achievers may result in compromised technique. This compromise not only hinders their progress but also opens the door to various physical issues due to incorrect execution.


Psychological Concerns:

1. Overwhelm and Discouragement: Bombarding students with excessively challenging combinations can overwhelm them, leading to discouragement. Instead of feeling motivated to improve, those at the bottom may find themselves disheartened, questioning their abilities, and becoming more prone to dropping out.


2. Higher Dropout Rates: The psychological pressure of constantly trying to keep up with the highest achievers can contribute to higher dropout rates. Students may perceive the learning environment as too demanding and opt to leave ballet altogether, preventing them from realizing their full potential.


As a former advocate for teaching to the highest denominator, I’ve witnessed the consequences – both physical and psychological – that this method can impose. It is imperative to recognize the need for a balanced and inclusive teaching approach in ballet. Tailoring instruction to the individual needs of each student ensures a safer and more supportive environment.


Addressing the unique challenges of those at the bottom of the class not only reduces the risk of injuries but also fosters a positive and encouraging atmosphere. By acknowledging and rectifying the physical and psychological risks associated with this traditional approach, we can create an inclusive environment that allows every student to thrive, regardless of their initial skill level.



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