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Friday, February 20, 2009

A Friday rant: Professor J

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know how much I complain about ballet. It's a constant struggle on ballet days to get myself emotionally psyched to tolerate this class. And when it comes down to it, it's not ballet itself that makes me crazy - it's my teacher. She's the devil.

I used to like ballet. When I first came to the program, all bright-eyed and naive, I thought ballet was just great and since Professor J was the teacher, I respected and trusted her without giving it much thought, naturally. That's what you do, right? Unless someone gives me a reason not to trust them at the get-go, I give them benefit of the doubt that they're A-okay.

Well, slowly but surely over the course of three semesters with her, the blinders were peeled away from my eyes, and at some point last semester my breaking point was reached. All the snide comments, dramatic changes in mood, disrespect, the conditional double standards, the unprofessionalism... everything gradually built up and I finally began to see the real Professor J.

A week or so into the semester, I began to think maybe I just didn't like ballet. I started accepting that maybe ballet and I will never be anything more than two entities that tolerated each other because we had to. Then the department's ballet mistress substitute taught our class one day, and that idea was tossed out the window. Same thing, this past Monday... one of the advanced ballet students taught our class, and I left class high on endorphins and loving dance, just like I do every other dance class. It's not ballet. It's Professor J.

What does she do?? Here are a couple examples:
* Today in class, while demonstrating the footwork in one exercise, she was very unclear on the counts and timing. One of my classmates asked if she would do the counts. Instead of clarifying what she wanted, Professor J simply stood there, looked at my classmate as if to ask "are you stupid?", and just started counting out loud: "1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4..." Gee, thanks Professor J, that clears it up for me, I'm sorry for being so stupid.
* Professor J substitute taught the advanced ballet class yesterday, and someone in that class told me that, at the end of class, Professor J decided to have a powwow. In a nutshell she told them that when hiking or biking up a hill, it is more difficult when you carry extra weight... she then followed up her little analogy by stating, "but don't get an eating disorder or anything." Um, excuse me? Is she allowed to make analogies alluding that we're overweight?? Wow.

These are just two examples. I could list hundreds more. If I had a dollar... no, a dime... for every comment or attitude like this from Professor J, I'd be out of debt.

And for the record, I'm not so naive to think that the real dancing world is not hard, fickle, demanding and very political. Please. I'm well aware of what to expect when I get out there. With Professor J, though, I'm talking about treating people with basic respect. I'm talking about standards. I'm talking about doing the job you're getting paid to do. When someone makes you loathe a class, self-doubt your own potential and validity, wonder if you should transfer to another school, etc., there's a problem. A BIG one.

Looking ahead to this semester during Christmas break was dismal and disheartening. Each week begins the same, as does each ballet day. That makes for one loooooooong semester.

What's the solution? I'm not sure. I have to take ballet. I'm stuck in her class this semester. I could say that I'm going to bust my butt to move up to the next level for next semester, and I am, but it doesn't seem to work that way. Her mood and whim in the moment seem to determine whether or not she allows people to move up. But I can't take another semester with her!!! I'm going nuts! If she tries to keep me in her class again, she will be getting a fight from me. I know I'm not delusional in thinking I should be in a different class. People in the upper level classes tell me so.

So. You want to play games, lady? Bring it. Game ON. I've had it.


  1. Damn, she sounds like a grade-A beotch in some serious need of strong medication. And possibly hypnotherapy. And a colonoscopy find out what crawled up her ass and died.

    I'm sorry she's such a pill, Miss Jessie, but you can't let her stymie your progress and success. Is it possible to go over her head without too much trouble? (My favorite solution.) Or maybe some Tonya Harding action? ;)

  2. Matteo, you have no idea. I know, I tell myself that she can't get in the way of my goals, but it's getting harder and harder not getting discouraged :(