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Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By danceforlife1234
On Sat Aug 11, 2012 04:34 PM

I just wanted to share my experience with beginnings workshop. They forced my daughter and other students to eat an excessive amount of food. To the point where their were girls throwing up. I went to a nutritionist and found the food they gave us was not healthy. My daughter coughed up eggs and they still made her eat it, her chaperones told her to wet her bed if she had to use the bathroom at night because she was not allowed to get up. I ended up having to pick her up because she called home crying hysterically. She told me that peter talked about her right in front of her in a negative way. And that she does not recommend this for anyone and she will never go back.

33 Replies to Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good

re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By dancerasa
On Sat Aug 11, 2012 09:40 PM
Um, what was this exactly?
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By actsingdance
On Sat Aug 11, 2012 09:57 PM
It seems to be a residential dance/performing arts 7 day workshop.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By ChristinePremium member
On Sun Aug 12, 2012 01:15 AM
danceforlife1234 wrote:

They forced my daughter and other students to eat an excessive amount of food. To the point where their were girls throwing up. I went to a nutritionist and found the food they gave us was not healthy. My daughter coughed up eggs and they still made her eat it, her chaperones told her to wet her bed if she had to use the bathroom at night because she was not allowed to get up.


If this is true, that children were forced to eat so much they threw up, and were denied reasonable access to a toilet, I would demand a refund, at the very least.

I might also take this to a higher authority than this board.

I'm so sorry your family had this awful experience.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By sunflowerdncrmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Aug 12, 2012 03:57 PM
Edited by sunflowerdncr (135550) on 2012-08-12 16:01:27
They must have changed things since I attended. I attended 10 years ago though. At that time we were fed a vegetarian/vegan diet the whole time. I do remember being told to "eat more" but it was by our cabin counselors who were the first to admit that some of the food wasn't good (this was my first experiance eating tofu). We normally ate more by eating extra fruit/bread. I lost 12 pounds over the two week period, however when I weighed 95 lbs. going in, that's a lot.

No one in my cabin was forced to eat so much they got sick. However there were times when we were eating unfamiliar and to us, gross food and wanted to throw up.

Also I was never told not to use the restroom at night. That is unreasonable.

How old is your daughter? I was 16 when I attended. I believe the youngest were 12, and I know that 2 of the youngest got picked up early for reasons unknown to me.

Peter was intense and opinionated. If he didn't think you had anything to offer, I remember he just kind of left you alone (I was in this category). If he liked you, you sort of got extra stuff/encouragement.

These are my recollections of the program. I am sorry your daughter had such an adverse experiance.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By ChristinePremium member
On Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:38 PM
Twelve pounds in two weeks with only a 96 pound body to start with?

Am I the only one who is secretly screeming, "Child ABUSE?"

Keep On Dancing*
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By MissTalia
On Mon Aug 13, 2012 02:58 AM
I had students go to this workshop, I believe it was in in upstate ny or PA. They told me the same thing about the food, illness, and mistreatment. How is this camp still in business it sounds horrible! How about healthy food, and treating people with respect you can ve honest if a child is wrong or doesnt have the ability, but say it to a parent or in a private meeting. Why humiliate people? Ugh, ridiculous!
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By millysmommy
On Mon Aug 13, 2012 05:48 AM
Is this the workshop offered by this man?

www.dance.net . . .


The more I hear about him, the more I'm glad I didn't accept his offer.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By petersklar
On Mon Aug 13, 2012 07:55 AM
Edited by petersklar (116979) on 2012-08-13 07:57:49
Edited by petersklar (116979) on 2012-08-13 08:00:22
Edited by petersklar (116979) on 2012-08-13 08:01:51
Edited by petersklar (116979) on 2012-08-13 08:03:05
Edited by imadanseur (79325) on 2012-10-04 23:13:36 People will find you through a google search. we don't allow others to post their e-mail address to promote their business.
Hi Folks,

Once again, we have a smattering of typical gossip board stuff.

And that's what this is. (First clue- please notice the repeated "camp" reference.)

For those of you who are not party to this forum and its ilk, I believe there is some excellent perspective regarding the nonsense that started this thread, (replete with fellow gossipers jumping on board, eagerly swallowing every word.)

It lies in the bewilderment in one of the above gossipers who asks the question: How on earth do we still exist after twenty-eight years?

How indeed.

How do we maintain a perfect Better Business Bureau record, no complaints, licensed and inspected yearly by the New York and/or New Jersey Health Departments, and most tellingly, thousands of happy families, many of whom return year after year after year to be “forced” to eat the “unhealthy food”?

Again, if one is to believe the above, how could all that remain true?

Want the real scoop? Firstly, please realize that HAPPY people to not spend time trolling gossip boards looking for opportunities to complain. I submit therefore that if one is seeking a true consensus of opinion, one should get off these clandestine forums and talk with people who are willing to step forward and identify themselves.

In our case, there are thousands and thousands. And they are extremely happy with their children's time with us.

Not to mention hundreds and hundreds of studio directors, many of whom visit us in session, year after year.

And they are ALL more than happy to share their experiences with you directly on the telephone or by email, or you can read hundreds of their unsolicited, spontaneous letters and emails through a google search.
I am well aware that a few more gossipers will now chime in, and the negativity will continue.

But, as always, it's only here.

I hope this has been helpful.

Thank you.

Peter Sklar
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By SammyBeth
On Mon Aug 13, 2012 03:28 PM
Peter as you stated in the post that was linked above
"I just received a Google alert that my name was posted here." For someone so confident in their business why would you need google to tell you every time someone mentioned your name online? Why be afraid of the criticism? Yeah it sucks, but embrace it, and become better. This post was only posted Saturday. Did you really have time to investigate properly to see if it was true?

danceforlife1234 if what you say is true then report to the BBB maybe you can help others. Though I wonder if BBB takes "donations" to keep complaints quiet. I have had first hand experience with them they are a scum in my opinion.

SB :)

P.S. By the way I am a very happy person just hate to see people wronged if that is what happened here.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By MissTalia
On Mon Aug 13, 2012 09:33 AM
Edited by MissTalia (101138) on 2012-08-13 09:39:03
Edited by MissTalia (101138) on 2012-08-13 09:40:25
Peter, no one is trying to gossip. I literally was told those things by students personally. I thought they were exaggerating until I read this post which mirrored the exact things my students said. No harm intended to you. The reason people go to your camps is because you are the real deal and have truly discovered people who are now known and successful in the entertainement industry. Im just sorry to hear this is happening to kids. I wish you'd address these issues as they aren't an attack on the training offered, but some other parts of the business. Why not be open to improving ? You don't have to compromise your values, just ensure customers are getting fresh food and treated with decency.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By petersklar
On Tue Oct 02, 2012 02:48 AM
Edited by imadanseur (79325) on 2012-10-04 23:11:48 Read our TOS...advertising (such as posting your website info) is not allowed in the forums!
There is another consideration here.

We unfortunately have 2-3 students each summer who for reasons of their own cannot handle being away from home for a week, and must be dismissed. One might consider that it would be a rare and extraordinary child indeed who, having failed to complete the workshop, and having returned home after 2-3 days, (as per the above child), would then confess to their disappointed parents that the workshop itself was a positive experience for virtually everyone else, but that THEY were simply unable to handle it.

In other words, it is beyond understandable that this child would attribute her dismissal to shortcomings in the workshop, ("unhealthy food", etc.), rather than her own inability to complete it. It is equally understandable that this would provide some reassurance to a bewildered parent looking for an explanation as to her child’s unhappiness. (The mom who started this thread was of course not present for any of the negative occurrences she alleges took place during her child’s short stay.)

The fact that our summer New York population has ranged from two hundred (200) to three hundred (300) children every year for the past three decades, (not to mention another 60-80 who attend our Hollywood and London workshops),means that 99% of our student body has completed and enjoyed their experience. There is an abundance of evidence to support this- most notably the thousands of unsolicited, unedited, and enthusiastic letters and emails we routinely receive.

Even if every word of what this child told her mom was 100% accurate, therefore, it varies sharply from the experiences of virtually everyone else.

This is hardly the perspective offered by these boards.

In the interest of researching a true consensus of opinion, therefore, I submit that consulting these anonymous forums with a huge grain of salt would seem beyond prudent.

Thank you.

Peter Sklar
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By RifleBuddy
On Tue Oct 02, 2012 02:03 PM
Just my two cents, but if those types of serious claims were made against myself and a program I was running, my first order of business would be to investigate the claims and assess my practices and those of my employees. Not get on a message board and get defensive and finger-point. If a child makes a health and safety claim, the number-one priority should be investigating WHY, not brushing it off as "she can't handle my program". BBB rating or not, it is you are responsible for the safety and well-being of the children in your program's care.
re: Beginnings workshop experience
By petersklar
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 01:13 AM
Edited by petersklar (116979) on 2012-10-03 02:04:06
Edited by imadanseur (79325) on 2012-10-04 23:23:04 removed links to businesses.
For many years, we did indeed ignore these boards. However, it seems most readers appreciate a response from those being criticized, especially when those providing the criticism are anonymous and unaccountable. These are public forums, not private chat rooms. We are therefore challenged to either allow the above nonsense to circulate freely, or endure a handful of anonymous posters calling us “defensive”.

We decided long ago that the latter was preferable.

So, in regard to such absurdities as “her chaperones told her to wet the bed…” and “I went to a nutritionist and found the food they gave us was not healthy… etc.” (Interesting use of the word “us”, given that mom wasn’t there; nor of course was the supposed “nutritionist”.)

The fact is that our nutritional standards are among the highest among resident programs anywhere in North America. (They certainly surpass by far the notoriously dismal menus served up in most high school cafeterias.) The fact that most kids today don’t eat much if anything nutritious for breakfast, rely heavily on fast foods and a steady intake of sugar, and generally eschew things like steamed organic green vegetables, would explain why a sudden reversal of such habits would meet with resistance by children such as the daughter of the mom who began this thread. Yet, despite this, as I stated earlier, literally 99% of our students report having a profoundly positive experience, with many commenting pointedly on how much they like the menu! In fact, exclusively in response to numerous alumni requests, we are slowly assembling an official collection of Beginnings workshop recipes.

We don’t have to “investigate” the veracity of the above silliness. We would of course if we heard it even occasionally, instead of from one single disgruntled parent on a gossip board, whose daughter spent a total of 2-3 days with us.

The posters on these forums are certainly not a shy bunch, nor do they need to be since they post anonymously. If such accusations were valid after all these years, common sense dictates that they would spring up all over the internet, and launch dozens of formal investigations.

Speaking of which, we are visited, inspected top to bottom prior to and during our workshop, and licensed regularly by the New York and/or New Jersey State Departments of Health. For those of you unfamiliar with these agencies, they require an abundant amount of documentation, and present us each year with a long list of health, safety, and supervisory requirements we must meet, as well as strict standards of conduct my staff and I must live up to.

And we do.

Which is why we have such a large population of happy students and parents, and a consistent A+ rating by the BBB, which actively monitors and publicly reports any and all complaints, and their nature, against programs such as ours. It does not surprise me however that even the Better Business Bureau would be attacked on these forums, (branded “scum” above), simply for accurately reporting our huge level of client satisfaction.

Perhaps the Department of Health will be next.

Thank you.

Peter
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By Tapdanzer
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 05:05 PM
Every time something comes out about this guy or his program, he jumps on here and responds in an incredibly defensive and condescending way. There are always accusations about the poster (not happy people... really?), excuses, followed by statistics and an invitation to look at all the glowing testimonials he's received. What business would put BAD testimonials on their website? Putting aside what other people have said about his programs, his attitude alone in his responses make me want to stay far away.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By CarabosseKPremium member
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 05:14 PM
I actually like his attitude. Perhaps he's not the best at writing his responses, but a business, as well as a person, has the right to protect their reputation and their livelihood. Everyone seems to jump all over him and he's simply saying that there are plenty of people who are happy with his product and to take those voices into consideration along with the negative opinions. Don't write him off completely because of a bad review. He has plenty of success stories to back him up.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By KangarooPawmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 05:18 PM
I'm sorry, but your customer service skills are horrible. Who cares if this is a forum? People will complain anywhere, not just online. It's not something you can stop. I find it fishy that you're getting so defensive over one complaint that you're trying to make seem so "petty." If it's really that small of a deal to you, why bother coming here several times, getting defensive, and being rude? You can flaunt your "satisfaction rates" and "numerous letters" all you want. That doesn't change the fact that maybe...just maybe, some of your staff needs to be re-evaluated. How do you know this hasn't happened before for sure? You don't. Kids can be very nervous about mentioning things like this to parents or others, and many never do because of that nervousness and fear. Instead of pointing the finger at a child and pretty much "making fun" of that child for "not being able to handle the program," why not address the issue with the parent directly instead of speaking ill about her on her own post? That screams poor customer service right there. When we get complaints from parents at our studio, we address them whether they're legitimate or we know they're not. If they're not, the necessary steps are taken to address it in a way that doesn't point fingers, rather teaches a lesson that it's wrong to make things up. If you can prove 100%, without a doubt, that this claim and others like it are false, then perhaps you should do so. Using testimonies from other people doesn't achieve that. Handling it personally and professionally does.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good (karma: 1)
By J1ll
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 06:31 PM
I think a forum like DDN creates a great place for all facets of the dance world to meet and compare. Do people post more extreme views because there is some anonymity involved with an online forum? Actually I think people are simply more themselves. And many fall to the opposite end being very conservative as you're often not as anonymous as you think.
Quite frankly I think a friendly response such as I apologize that your daughter perceived the situation as hostile and unfriendly. Perhaps an offer to chat offline which could include a menu sample for the week and an investigation into any staff negligence would have been more appropriate. Because while this man may have been at the "camp" he didn't bear witness to the all of the situations this girl is alleging either so he is discrediting the mother for assuming but doing the same thing.
I do not thrive on gossip but I am active on DDN because it is a phenomenal resource so for someone to bash the entire forum yet repeatedly return to it to defend themselves leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By Dances4LifePremium member
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 01:19 PM
Edited by Dances4Life (241709) on 2012-10-03 13:25:09
J1ll wrote:

Quite frankly I think a friendly response such as I apologize that your daughter perceived the situation as hostile and unfriendly. Perhaps an offer to chat offline which could include a menu sample for the week and an investigation into any staff negligence would have been more appropriate.


Exactly. The "dance instruction" or any activity that people pay you to attend is a CUSTOMER SERVICE based business. You need to start thinking in the eyes of the customer and less about what you think.

I'm not agreeing that the child's version of what happened is correct but I do not like the way that you (Peter) decided to approach the situation. Start addressing concerns (let the parent of this child know that your do not make children "hold it" or wet the bed and that you have addressed it with your staff. Give them a sample menu.) rather than dismissing whatever they say and you may have less people complaining about you. I know that you would have at least had a lot more of the DDN community's respect.

As a teacher and an SO I would still have had an open mind toward your "camp" and curriculum if not for the way that you responded to the negative comment in this thread as well as others.

J1ll wrote:

I do not thrive on gossip but I am active on DDN because it is a phenomenal resource so for someone to bash the entire forum yet repeatedly return to it to defend themselves leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


I second this as well!
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By buckeye2
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 07:21 PM
To the Original Poster:

If indeed these accuations are true, please report it to the BBB in the area of the camp/workshop. If he is claiming to have an excellent record with them, yet all this stuff is happening, then no one must be filing complaints. Honestly, I wouldn't think to. Especially with it being out of state. I would just chalk it up to lesson learned and move on. But in a case like this (I too have had a first hand, negative experience with Mr. Sklar) , it should be reported to the powers he has ruling over his business.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By DestinationDnCr
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 07:53 PM
I'm just as distributed by sunflowerdncr post as the OP.

I weigh 100 lbs and if I came home from any camp 12 lbs. less, my mother would have lost it! I understand 5 lbs since that's "water weight" 12 is absurd! You should be gaining muscle witch weighs more than fat!

Not to mention how if you didn't stand out he kind of left you alone. That sounds like neglect!
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By vista5Premium member
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 08:09 PM
Considering that the OP joined DDN the day she made her post and has not posted again since, she is probably not reading any of the discussion that has followed - just had an ax to grind. DDN is a wonderful place for sharing information, but I will agree with Peter that these types of anonymous forums can be abused. Too bad. For me, it would be nice to hear a couple things from from Peter. One is perhaps a sort of "nutrition mission statement" including a sample list of foods offered; the other would be a very clear statement to the effect that he would investigate whether any staff denied bathroom privileges and a promise that anyone doing such would be dismissed. I am the kind of person that who tries not to "protest too much" when accused or criticized. Sometimes a clear, concise response is all it takes to satisfy nay-sayers. Peter, you might want to consider spending less time blaming the haters, and either ignore, or give a simple, terse response.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By petersklar
On Wed Oct 03, 2012 08:19 PM
Edited by imadanseur (79325) on 2012-10-04 23:14:09 Removed links.
Thank you for your suggestions.

We take the health, safety, and supervision of our students extremely seriously. As thousands of alumni are acutely aware, there are numerous rules, policies, and procedures in place that are strictly enforced to ensure the welfare, conduct, nutrition, and especially the emotional experience of each of our students.

We also take very seriously the screening, hiring, and hour-to-hour monitoring of our chaperone staff, our selection of on-site licensed nurses, our relationship with the New York and New Jersey Departments of Health, and indeed, bona fide feedback from our students and parents.

What we DON’T take seriously, other than as a public relations issue, is some occasional anonymous fiction on a message forum.

A poster above asks innocently and in earnest: “Why not address the issue with the parent directly…?”

I would have loved to. But the individual who started this thread has chosen to make her horrific statements loudly, in public, and of course anonymously, as have those above who quickly responded with very public cries of “ABUSE!” and “NEGLECT!” and “HE SHOULD BE REPORTED!”, etc. etc.

I believe the fact that such outrageous public accusations, hysteria, and witch-trial condemnation dominates these boards, should leave a far worse “bad taste” in the mouths of everyone here, than anything we’ve said in response.

Yet that’s not how it seems to work here.

Thank you.
Peter Sklar
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good
By StepdancerPremium member
On Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:11 AM
As a regular poster here, I am mystified by the accusation that "outrageous public accusations, hysteria, and witch-trial condemnation dominates these boards". Not in my experience, it doesn't. Where is this "dominating" happening, exactly? Even if I accept the contention that this particular thread meets the above description, I would hardly call that "dominating". This is a public board, and yes, we get all types. Including upset parents who would be well advised to report the type of behavior they're alleging instead of posting on public forums. Including ticked off workshop owners who continually blame the board for the posts.
re: Beginnings workshop experience, it was not good (karma: 2)
By Tishwah
On Fri Oct 05, 2012 01:54 AM
I don't consider forums like this to be anonymous, ok a lot of people don't go by their personal names online, but you have people with post counts in the thousands that have been here for 10+ years, we know a lot about a lot of our members! Maybe not the OP in this case, but to make sweeping comments about us being "clandestine forums" and "typical gossip board" is a bit rich (coming someone with 54 posts, spend some more time here, engage, meet the locals).

I know I am not a huge poster, and I do choose to keep my offline life pretty private(because of what I do), but I have been reading these forums for years, I know which member has two boyfriends (and what one of their names is), I know which member missed her child's wedding through no fault of her own, I know which member just had a baby who supports the Swannies, and who has a baby due really soon and did a TED talk while pregnant. And I know all this because this is not a clandestine forum, this is a community that people live in. We have watched our younger members grow and become adults, and we welcome new members all the time, some stay, some don't.
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