Sometimes I feel like I am a broken record when I talk about how I got into dance as a serious career.
“I swore I would never teach like my parents or my sister.”
“I originally wanted to study music therapy.”
Both statements are 100% true. All through college, I kept wondering when and how I would use this degree. Then after senioritis kicked in, I thought I was completely done and just moving on with a degree in my hand that could at least open up some avenues elsewhere. I stayed around the Pittsburgh area after school dabbling in a bunch of fields: retail, public relations, medicine, and marketing. Nothing seemed to fit what I was looking for. It didn’t hit me until later that the piece I needed to fill in my soul was dance. Out of it for nearly three years, I decided to search for a part-time dance position and stumbled upon a few teaching positions. Now I had sworn up and down that I would never teach simply because I’m stubborn and wanted to create my own pathway away from my parents. However, when I started to teach it felt….right.
Immediately all of the pieces fell into place. I got a call from Peggy Johnson, the studio’s previous owner, to see if I was interested in taking over the studio. Ever have those moments where your heart literally drops into the pit of your stomach? Yeah, that’s what happened. Although, it wasn’t all that beautiful of a moment. Honestly it was a scary moment. This was a huge life decision to make at the age of twenty three. Owning a business without the experience? Without a full teaching background? It took me days to make the final decision to move to Bradford and start my life. The moment I said yes, I had ideas just overflowing. The ideas were about things I wanted to change, different recital themes, lesson plans, etc. I put a lot of focus on how I would be as a teacher and what my expectations of my students would be.
I am and will always be my own harshest critic as well as a perfectionist. Growing up, I was never the most talented dancer and when I went away to school realized how poor of a dancer I was compared to other girls my age. Everything I thought I knew was incorrect. I had poor alignment, no rotation, and my feet were horrendous which took me several years to try to relearn. I was lucky to have had teachers who were patient with me and yet challenged me to think better of myself and instill a strong work ethic. That’s the kind of teacher I wanted to be and so I am to my students. I give the tough love when I know they have more energy and fire to give than what I currently see. I give them hugs when I know it’s been rough and they just need someone to talk to. I make it a commitment to help those that are struggling and provide them with help outside of class. I continue to expect greatness because I know they are capable of so much more than what they sometimes give themselves credit for. I expect quality and accuracy.
In my opinion, it’s hard to create your own voice in the dance world. It’s too easy to follow the grain and do what’s popular instead of just following your heart. What’s popular today is lifting your leg above your shoulders every other second that you’re not pulling out quadruple pirouettes and backflipping across the stage. I appreciate all forms and styles of dance and give mad props to anyone who’s pulling out all of the show-stopping stunts. I think if you are good at something and want to showcase that then you should! I guess my point is that we all have different talents and capabilities – just as we all have different bodies that allow us to perform different skills. I don’t think that’s celebrated enough. Instead of raising each other up and being proud that we all can do something that makes us special, we tend to break each other down. I try to teach my students this concept as much as possible and encourage them to not only be supportive of their fellow classmates, but supportive of other dance students. Just as all dancers are different, all teachers are different and therefore can offer different needs. What works for some may not work for others and that is okay! I feel confident that I’m giving my students everything I have and giving them a quality education. I may not always follow the current trends, but I will make sure whatever it is they are doing- they are doing correctly!
Well….I guess that turned into story time/vent session! I’m still getting used to the blog idea so if my first few blogs go all over the place- you have been warned!!! 😉
Now to hydrate and curl up in my blankies. Stay warm and well!