baby and mommy,  ballerina,  Effie Nanas Ballet,  Gymboree,  naughty kids,  tantrum,  toddler tantrum

Tutu in Tatters

This is a long post, but hopefully worth the read. . .

My daughter loves to dance and ever since we saw  Nutcracker last December, she has decided to become a ballerina. We waited for a few months to see if she stills likes it. A couple of weeks ago, we asked her if she wants to go to ballet class and she did. We were more than glad to indulge her, at least she was asking for a class and not a laptop or a car. After much Googling, we found Effie Nanas Ballet School although it was a bit of a commute, the ballet school was in  Edsa Shangrila Mall. We chose the school because they had a class for 3-5 year old girls called Pre-ballet. Most schools that I’ve called only accepted girls 4 years old and above. Their website was quite impressive, it even said that the head teacher was “one of the ballet luminaries of the Philippines”. 
I called and asked if they were accepting new students, they were and we were told to come and have my daughter dress in pink leotards, tights, tutu and ballet shoes. So off we went and bought her an all-pink ensemble except for the shoes, we couldn’t find a pink one so we bought a slightly larger white one. We got to the class 30 minutes early and my daughter was oozing with excitement. I wanted to make sure that the teacher would say it was okay for her to join, since I’ve heard of some teachers who are strict and my daughter can be a bit hyper especially when she gets excited. 
There were two elderly teachers, a cashier and a couple of 4 year old students, once Sofie saw the studio she immediately ran in the middle of the room and gave a little squeal. I was signaling her to be quite and to take off her rubber shoes when one of the little girls told her in verbatim “There’s no shouting here, naughty kids go to Gymboree“. Errr, my daughter takes core classes in Gymboree. Hmmm, I wonder where the kid got that from. I ignored it of course. 
I asked the teacher sitting by the door if Sofie can be accepted, I had a feeling the place was a bit too formal for the baby ballet we had in mind. I told Sofie that we will not dress in her pink uniform yet and just watch the girls dancing for the day because I think the class is for bigger girls. Overhearing us, the teacher by the door said she can join, I asked the teachers again if it was okay and was assured that she can join the class. Of course, it was under the condition that my daughter could follow. We were also told to buy pink ballet shoes for her in the school’s ballet supplies store. My daughter wanted to be a ballerina, so we bought her second new pair of ballet shoes for Php695.00 and paid the Php650.00 fee for the 1 hour class. 
Before the class started, I told her that there is no running or shouting in the studio, I said that if she did not follow teacher, Mommy will bring her home. She answered with a big nod and said “Look Mommy, I’m a pink ballerina”.
As the class started, I found myself standing behind the glass partition where mommies stood, nervous with a camera on hand. There were about 15 girls there and the ballet teacher had them stand in two rows. She placed masking tape on the floor to serve as a marker for the girls. Unfortunately, my girl refused to stay in her spot. Although she was following the moves, she was doing it in her own spot, she kept moving to the first row, right smack in front of  the teacher. 
I moved closer to the door, preparing to signal my daughter if in any case  she ran around or something when Effie Nanas came up to me and said “Your daughter Sofia, I don’t think she can follow, he he I don’t think so.”  with that she turned away and all I could say was “Opo, I mean come on, she’s older than my mother. 
The next thing I heard from the teacher, Effie Nanas, was “Put her in her place” she told her teaching assistant. Then she said in verbatim “I am getting mad” Followed by “She doesn’t know how to obey” She was addressing the other students and was pertaining to my kid. She continued with “We will show her we are disciplined here and that naughty kids go to Gymboree” . Okay, so that’s where the other kid got it from!
At this point I admit I was embarrassed, but then I heard Effie Nanas tell her assistant to “carry” my daughter out. She called her cashier and said “Give the mother the refund“. Just like that she was lifted out of the class and into my arms, I did not have time to react because right then and there my daughter who never acted out outside the house in her life went on an EPIC TANTRUM! We were at the 4th floor and I swear people on the first floor could hear her. She was shrieking at the top of her lungs “Go back, go back, I want to be a ballerina“. We were kicked out and my instinct was to just carry her, kicking and screaming, as we stumbled on our way out of there. I just kept telling her that I’m sorry, that it was okay, that we will look for another ballet class and that she will be a ballerina! Her heart was broken and I would have given mine, if it meant taking her pain away. 
I’m very thankful to the people in the elevator who understood, the Shangrila guards who helped me carry her and got us in a cab. I’m very thankful to the cab driver who comforted us as we both sobbed in the back seat. I’m very thankful to my husband who left his work and waited for us at the front door, McDonald’s in hand, when we got home. 
This post is not intended to discredit the ballet school, it is in fact a good school that produced many talents. But, I can not discount the fact that the situation could have been handled better. I can not discount the fact that my daughter felt like she failed. That I felt I failed her. 
That night, I asked her what she felt about the class, she did not say anything. I said we will look for another class, Sofie said “Not mad class Mommy, only happy one”. Lastly, I asked her if she wanted to become a ballerina, she answered with a resounding NO, just like that.


  • RONE

    If their intention was to discourage a little girl from pursuing her ballet dreams then they did it. That is a horrible way to treat a 3 year old. Maybe the teacher does not have the skill and patience to teach little girls. Even if your daughter was acting up there is a way to handle things without humiliating the child, the parent and insulting Gymboree.

  • joyce

    my heart broke into pieces after reading your blog…:( i hope sofie will get over the horrible experience soon and will still pursue her dream.:( i can't believe they bullied a 3-year old! horrible, horrible people! πŸ™

  • Anonymous

    I'm not yet a mom but I was heartbroken by the story. I felt what your daughter felt. I wasn't that young when I've experienced it but the impact was the same. I've an extreme stage fright so to boost my self-esteem I enrolled myself in a dance class. I was embarrassed in front of the class a lot of times that the said class ended up a "tinik sa lalamunan" on me. I think that kind of disciplinary isn't that good 'cause it lessens a person's self-confidence.

  • Anonymous

    when sofie becomes interested again in dancing ballet, hopefully in the near future, halili school of ballet in q.ave offers baby ballet. i have friends with children about 3-4 years old who go there. they also offer classes at poveda but i'm not sure if they accept kids even if they are not enrolled at poveda…you might want to try…:)

  • Anonymous

    What an evil teacher! My kids go to Gymboree and they are not naughty at all. My friends' daughters go to that ballet class and they told me that the teacher there is too mataray and strict. Not a good place for very young children.

  • Anonymous

    oh my i was in tears reading your entry. i was actually looking for reviews for effie nanas because i was thinking of bringing my little girl there for ballet, but reading this, no way. and i agree completely, it should have been handled better, what they did, absolutely no excuse or reason for. and can i just say, the way she labels gymboree kids as naughty, hmmm makes me wonder what kind of educator she is…

  • Anonymous

    I am a Gymboree mom and I am happy with the way they deal with children. The teachers there handle the kids very well and they APPRECIATE and RECOGNIZE each child's uniqueness and character. I hope Sofie will still continue her dreams in becoming a ballerina.

  • Eliza

    Hi! I'm a Gymboree teacher. If the definition of "naughty" in this school's eyes is being let to explore, to create, to imagine, to express and to have fun, then by all means, all naughty children are welcome in Gymboree!

  • Anonymous

    sis jho@30 naiyak naman ako sa blog post mo :'( grabe naman yang ballet school na yan. Traumatic nga yan sa mga little girls. I have a 16 months old daughter and there's a ballet school nearby, I purchased a voucher from them and I would like my daughter to try it. Pero sana naman itong napili ko "happy one" πŸ™‚ Sis I hope you'll find a happy ballet class for your lil girl πŸ™‚

    -swtgrl_bee of GT πŸ™‚

  • anney

    Traumatic naman sa bata yan. She could have handled the situation in a better way. Ibig nya ba sabihin ang mga bata sa Gymboree e hindi disciplined? Bata yan dapat mas naging patient sya. I hope your daughter will still continue to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina. I'm sure sa ngayon ayaw nya dahil na trauma sya sa experience na yan.

  • Nuna

    Napaka-bully! Humiliating a child? My heart broke when I read this blog, I have a 3-year-old girl too. What that teacher did was evil.

  • Kristeta β™₯ (kalokang Pinay)

    I totally agree with you, the situation could have been handled better. I think on the first day, they should have just ask you both to sit & watch, and told your daughter to join when she feels ready. Of course she would not be used to her spot, it's her first day! Maybe they are a good school, but they have no right to say anything negative about another school, may this be another ballet school or not. And more importantly to shatter a little kids dream and heart.
    As people who should be imparting knowledge and honing kids' talent & help them be more confident, they are pretty disappointing. I hope your little one gets over this and still choose to pursue want she wants. Big HUGs…
    Found your blog from Anney =)

  • march on...

    sofie must have been traumatized by that evil teacher. maybe she's not aware of the pharse positive reinforcement? her teaching style is too outdated, like our lolos' era outdated where teachers had sticks in their hands while they teach πŸ™‚

  • mommyhazel

    This is sooo heart breaking mommy… πŸ™ BIG HUGS FOR SOPHIE!!! If it's any consolation, I just enrolled my 2.8 yr old daughter in The School of Performing Arts in Elizabeth Hall, Katipunan. And, she just runs around the whole place, but doing routines nonetheless… The teacher is very patient and understanding… There are a lot of "happy" ballet schools around sis. I'm sure you will be able to find one where Sophie will be a happy ballerina… HUGS HUGS HUGS again to the both of you…

  • michi

    nakakainis naman yang school na yan…they should not treat your girl like that, she is too young for this. i hope your daughter is doing fine now.

  • Cel

    sis my daughter is also 3 years old and i had her enrolled on one of the ballet schools here in cavite. she also doesn't follow her teacher, has her own moves and most of the time just stares at the teacher and the other girls. but not once did the teacher reacted negatively. she was so patient with my daughter, to the point that she would hug my daughter and tell her she's so cute πŸ™‚ that's why my daughter always looks forward on her ballet class every week. i'm so sorry for what happened… that's not the way to treat a kid. ayan ayaw na tuloy mag-ballet πŸ™

  • Dans thoughts

    Worth reading can't stop until the end of the story! it's disappointing how a well trained dancer act like what she did, I don't care if she's the most amazing dancer in the world what the heck does a child know about ballet she is just starting and wanted to learn in the first place and for sake she's just a child in her age she needs guidance not to be called by anything so degrading, that's why she's called a dance teacher because she'll teach with patience and respect.

  • Anonymous

    She really is a b****. She tells her students how hopeless they are. She lowers their self-esteem. Such a bad teacher.

  • Jumbo Biker

    Hi, I'm a dad of a 4 yo ballerina and I was really heartbroken when I read your post! So, were you able to find a better school for her? I hope she didn't lose interest in ballet.

  • Sweet Gal

    They are so mean, kawawa naman si Sophia how can they do that do a little child. This story made me so teary eyed. Hope she finds a Happy Ballet School. My daughter is also taking up Baby Ballerinas Class in Twinkle Toes Fairview and kids are even younger 1 and 1/2 to 3 years old for the youngest class and as expected malikot ang kids but they are all having fun while learning. Hugs to Sofia.

  • Gene

    Oh my. That is so mean of the instructor. It may be a good school but that doesn't give her the right to react as such. People like that doesn't have the right to teach kids. My daughter just turned 3 and she wants to learn how to ballet, she learned it from watching Angelina Ballerina. I found your blog while I was looking for possible schools to enroll her this year. I have to say that like your daughter, my little girl would also act like her, especially on a new place.

    I really hope your little girl won't be discouraged by her encounter with that instructor. And I agree with her, we have to look for a Happy School for the little ones.

  • Anonymous

    Hello! I was previously a student of teacher Effie and reading this post saddens me. I have very much high respect for her and I admire her as a mentor…. I still do. She is a disciplinarian but I couldn't thank her enough with how she has affected me not only in dance, but also in how disciplined I am in other aspects of my life. I am now based in New York, living my dream and happy to have met teachers like her from back home who have pushed me to work hard and reach for my dreams.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter's experience. Quite honestly, I think ballerina's should start a little bit later than 3 — maybe around 5-6 years old. I must admit that teacher Effie is a disciplinarian and might be too tough on the kids sometimes. I think she is an amazing teacher for pre-teens to teen age groups. I was lucky to join the school when I was a little bit older and was able to handle the pressures of dance. I stayed with the school for years and graduated to teaching some of the classes.

    On the Dancentre's behalf, I would like to apologize for the heartaches this has caused you. Although it may be too soon for your daughter to try another dance class again, I think it would definitely help to let her join one in the future and change her perception of it. Maybe in another school?

    Effie is an excellent teacher. Admittedly, the school takes dance seriously and I personally think the best age to join her school is when the child is a little bit older.

    More power to you and your little ballerina/violinist/dreamer! <3

  • Anonymous

    hi there. i was a ballet teacher in another school before. i stopped dancing some 5years ago when i had children na. no time na for me. but anyways, in the school where i used to dance, the teachers were all very patient with the kids. i used to assist in baby ballet classes. and weve never thrown out a kid in class.

    its very understandable for 3 year olds not to be able to stay in their places for the first few sessions. usually for the 3-4year old classes, during the first few sessions, we form a big circle and thats where we do the plies and etc. so the kids find it more fun to see everyone following teacher. only in corner exercises do we make them line up and do their turns in doing the ballet walk, march, emboite' and etc.

    being a ballet teacher to 3 year old kids is no different from being a preschool teacher in a classroom. you have to use a lot of child psychology in dealing with different kids. some don't want to part from their moms, there are others who are the most bibo in class, some who wants to just stay at the back of the row and etc.

    i hope your daughter finds again her love for ballet. ive been thankful my mom enrolled me when i was four. i danced for 20years plus. its where i found my bestfriends. i travelled with them here and abroad for performances and competitions. its one of my best memories to date.

  • Anonymous

    i'm so glad i read your blog. i've visited effie nanas school a few times but haven't decided to let my daughter try it out. my daughter currently attends little gym but she is now taking interest in ballet and for a 2.6 yr old i was told by her preschool teachers and little gym teachers that she is ready for ballet. the last time i visited effie nanas school the lady in the capezio store kept referring to the Teacher as "yung matanda dyan" (using her lips to point to the school) masyadong strict. the lady at the store did not elaborate further. i now have doubts to even do a trial class at effie nanas – my daughter is quite strong willed and will speak her mind if bullied. Any moms have enrolled their little girls at movement dance in podium for their baby ballet? how about the DBC ISAS of the peralejo sisters in Valle Verde I?

  • Anonymous

    i'm thinking of enrolling my daughter in this ballet school since I'm also working here in Shangri-la mall. Luckily I came across this blog and this will serve as a warning to every mom out there who are also planning to enrol their daughters in this school.. you better think not just twice coz this is so so so traumatic. This is just one of the heartbreaking blogs I've ever read about.

  • My Bliss

    Aww! I teared up as I read your story. What a heart-wrenching one! That madam surely knows how to break a little one's spirit. My heart goes out to you and your daughter. Thank you for sharing and I hope you and your daughter have finally found the best ballet class for her- one that inspires her to pursue her dream! God bless you both! πŸ™‚