Teaching: Following their Journey

Here's the thing about being a teacher: You have to believe in molasses. It's a long, slow process that involves giving and taking away. It takes patience and hard work, but in the end you're left with something very sweet.

Becoming a teacher is one of the best choices we've ever made. Our students - regardless of age - have opened our eyes to new realizations, feelings and opportunities.

The first day you start teaching, you'll feel nervous but confident in your dancing. Then, you step into the classroom with 12 pairs of little eyes looking back at you with their hands on their hips, and then you'll realize teaching dance is far different than taking dance. Questions will flood into your mind: Where do I begin? Where do they come from? What do they know? How do they learn? How fast? How slow? How do I make them feel comfortable with each other and me and themselves and dance? What can I give to them that they will carry with them forever?

Young teachers want quick results. But as you grow (as an individual and as a teacher), you'll come to respect the process, and the time it takes.


Teaching Dance: Ages 2-11

Starting a child's dance education when they are young is vital to the child's development in dance later in life. Learning stretches and proper posture, as well as learning how to hear and feel music, are all taught beginning at young ages so that later it seems "natural" to the dancer.

As children grow physically, cognitively and emotionally during this period in their life, dance is the perfect way to guide their cognitive and emotional development while aiding their physical development as well.


Top 10 Reasons: Dance & Community Service

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank


Dance and community service together can change lives. Here's how:


Just Show Up

“For me, sick days are out of the question. I like to think the show won’t go on without me. The harsh truth, though, is that I don’t take sick days because I know it will.”

We’ve always told our students: Just show up.

Whether it is showing up to a dance class, a social gathering, a friend’s birthday party, a wedding, dinner, an interview... just show up.


Just Don't Wanna

These cold mornings and nights are not our favorite. It's hard to push through and remember, "Spring is coming; Summer's right behind that;  Just wait" when you're having to get dressed and sit in a freezing car to work, work, work. Also, we're still exhausted from 2010! Winter is a harsh, harsh season, accompanied, for many, by the blues.

Most of these winter days and nights, we fight the "just don't wanna" attitude. See exhibit 1 below.

It's a hard battle to fight considering, hey, we're right there with ya toots!

So we've come up with the recipe to help fight off the "just don't wannas."


Lessons Learned

Some of the Hardest:

Your parents aren't perfect. They will mess up, make bad judgment calls, say mean things, become insecure, need advice, and have questions. Mostly, they are dealing with their own personal mountains and monsters.

There is always someone better than you. It's true. There is always someone. No matter how hard you work, how many trophies or ribbons your name is engraved in, how many schools you attend, books you read or documentaries you watch; there is always someone.


Perfectly Free...

Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance, in the middle of fighting.
Dance, in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.



The Fine Line Between Fun & Discipline

Just as every math, science and English teacher desires, we dance teachers desire for our subject to be fun. We were drawn to dance because of its energy, passion, creativity and FUN. It makes us smile, feel weightless and unstoppable. But there was always a distinct line: a line that we learned to be aware of and respect.

Somewhere along your dance experience you must learn that dance isn't just chassés in a circle, or "head-shoulders-knees-and toes." To REACH a new level of freedom in dance (and fun in dance) requires technique, dedication, loyalty and persistence.

It takes all of the bad days you have in dance, when nothing goes right and your body is working 110% against you, to test your technique, dedication, loyalty and persistence. Dance, just like anything you could want, will seduce you just long enough until it's ready to pull away! It makes you work for it.

As a dancer, we know the line well, but as a teacher? We had to discover when to acknowledge and enforce the line. Sure, we have rules which we establish the first day of class: No gum, No hair in the face, No baggy clothes, No talking over each other, No asking the same question your fellow dancer just asked, No saying "I can't," No disrespect toward the studio, the art, other dancers, or the teacher. But we also encourage our students to open up: tell stories, express when they are frustrated (as long as they do not quit), and share whatever they're going through (happy, sad, mad, bad). Sharing creates caring as well as unexpected connections in the studio. It dissolves the walls our students bring into class on the first day, and promotes a good learning environment so that the result is a fantastic piece at the show.

However, it also brings... relaxation.

This is the line.


Confidence by Trial & Error

We can all agree on at least one thing: Turning the hot water off while in the shower during the winter, so difficult. If you're anything like us, we sit there and stare at it knowing as soon as we turn this off the real world is going to hit us like an ice truck, then we're going to have to get out of the shower, grab the towel, and run - freezing - down the hall, where we will inevitably have to get ready for work and start what we're sure will be a very long day. (Deep breath). That entire process is started by having to admit: "You can't stay here in the warm, soothing water all day."

A lot of people don't do simply because they know the chain of events to follow may be downright uncomfortable. But sometimes, that's exactly what we need.

While we were never scared to dance in front of our fellow arts school classmates, singing was another thing all together. As students in the Musical Theater department, we were required to stand in front of peers, who we were also trying to develop friendships with, and sing. If we could tell you how many times this process felt like sandpaper on sunburn... and how many times we prayed we could unzip our skin and walk away, you would be reading this blog for far longer than you budgeted time for.


Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins

Yay, 2011! We have so many goals and dreams for this year, and launching this Web site is the first big step!

This Web site and this blog is our attempt to do many things:

1. Open the door for dancers, teachers, students, parents for discussion, choreography, and communication
2. Track the journey as a dancer, teacher, student, friend, sister, daughter, choreographer
3. Collect thoughts, ideas, choreography, hopes and dreams for the future in teaching dance and working with the community



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Design & Development by Shane Jeffers