So this might be a little controversial of a post…. but… I set out to be as honest as possible when I started this blog and well…. here we go.
As a dance teacher I’ve had a lot of comments made to me about how “you have to get her into a program,” “that’s why we pay you,” and “I want to see progress,” and don’t get me wrong– I take that very seriously. It IS my job and I do take where a parents’ hard earned money goes, very seriously. Goals, seeing them through, seeing progress, helping people grow….. it’s what I believe life is about! Growth and realizing potential…. I actually put quite a bit of pressure on myself to make sure that my kids are growing every day– physically, emotionally, psychologically–and also be able to see that product very plainly in front of them!
But let me be clear about who I am, or who I’m not, as a teacher. I am NOT a drill sergeant and I am NOT a spoon feeder. I will not always tell someone what they want to hear if that’s what isn’t happening at the present moment. Life is not about instant gratification, as much as our lifestyle in 2019 promotes that, and while some things might not happen right away, with kindness, self-compassion, graciousness, hard-work and commitment, progress happens. And that’s a positive process! But I am not going to give kids, or parents, a false sense of what I can do for them. Not every one of my students will have perfect turnout, or do six pirouettes, or have a solo in the recital, but what I do promise is that I will do my absolute very best at being a teacher. A coach. A team member. Of dance AND life lessons. I am someone that wants to give someone, adults AND children, the tools to trust themselves. To understand and acknowledge what they were able to do, what they have grown to do, and what they can continue to grow to do in the future. My avenue for that just happens to be through dance and ballet technique. QUALITY technique and artistry. I want to teach my kids to be proud of themselves and not have to search for validation from others to know their worth. I want them to know what they are capable of. I am paid to teach dance, but I believe I am really paid to give them the tools to be confident and empowered human beings that are, YES, able to execute dance (primarily ballet) technique to the best of their abilities and in a passionate manner that respects and advances the art of dance.
It is important for a student to have a goal, and if they have a goal it is important for them to be able to express it. Whether they are Level 1s or Level 8s, they should have the confidence to say “this is what I want,” and be unapologetic about it. When they have acknowledged what their goals are, then I can truly help them. To set an action plan of how to go after it and how to achieve it. It is not simply enough for a parent to express it. And what a dancer wants is so incredibly clear in their body language, their work ethic, drive and passion, that most times I don’t need words. Actions have always spoken so much louder than words, BUT I do believe if we want something badly enough, we should be able to express it through as many avenues as possible to see it come to fruition. It’s both my job and the parents’ job to give a child a safe space to express what they want to see happen for themselves, for their lives, for their future. That IS our job.
So while I’m getting off on a tangent (what else is new?!), I just want it to be clear, I help run a small business. In order to continue on, I have to make sure we deliver a product, so that we can keep running our business (and let’s be real, as I will eventually, at some point in the future, take over for my mom, I want to make that woman and it’s 35 year history VERY proud) and I take what I do every single day seriously. What I do includes, but is not limited to, creating syllabi, marketing, financing, event planning, music production, story production, instruction, choreography, but more importantly, me and my fellow staff members are coaches for yes, quality dance technique, but also, facilitators for growth, achievement, goal setting, ambition, discipline, team building, and self awareness. I want dancers that have gone through my instruction to go out into this world able to know that even when the world isn’t perfect, they shape their own realities and we can choose to make this world a better place. I hope people see the value in that…. because I know that what my teachers taught me was priceless.