Inspiration

Teaching Synesthesia in Dance

[Synesthesia] : Ancient Greek meaning "together" and "sensation." This neurological condition connects one sensory stimulation to a second sensory stimulation.

For example, you may hear a little kid say, "I smell something, and it smells like the color blue." Later, as that child attends school, a teacher will say, "Now 'smell' doesn't describe 'blue.' Blue is visual, and smell is... smell!" We teach children to categorize, differentiate, separate. But why?


 

Why Dance Matters.

So we're sitting with a friend at a local restaurant following a meeting about promoting arts education in the city. We had just completed a tour of our local theater, discussed its history and future plans. We sat there completely thrilled; our hearts were full, and we were living off the energy from everyone in the group and their dedication to the arts in our city.

A man comes over and introduces himself. Turns out, he is a supporter of the theater. This made us very happy until he asked: "Now, what is it you do?" We said, "Dance instructors!"

But then he said this.

"And you can make a living off of that?"

We answered, "Yes. We can. We do. And here is why we should."


 

How is Fear Directing Your Life?

"The woman who needs to create works of art is born with a kind of psychic tension in her which drives her unmercifully to find a way to balance, to make herself whole. Every human being has this need..." -May Sarton

We always knew we loved dance and we loved creating by using dance as our choice of expression. But we were plagued by very specific thoughts (that would get stuck in heavy rotation at times).  "I wish I could dance like her. I should have worked harder. If I had taken more ballet, I would be even better." These thoughts could, often times, be paralyzing.

We needed to figure out how to push through those thoughts in order to arrive at a place where we could celebrate who we are in the world of dance and what we bring to the world of dance.

We've heard there are 4 types of fear.

Fear of Loss

Fear of Failure

Fear of Rejection

Fear of the Unknown

In order to truly recognize who you are and what you have to offer when it comes to your talent / business / expertise... you have to intimately understand these 4 types of fear and how the types apply to the relationship between you and fear {and we all have a relationship with fear; which is not necessarily a bad thing.}


 

Dream Logistics

Written by: Sheena Jeffers for Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins

Happy, happy June! This is the last month of working my full-time, day job... so that I can focus full-time on my dream life! {Cheers!}

It has certainly been a journey. Back in 2008, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Then in 2009, I discovered I wanted to be a teacher. Then in 2010, I wanted to be a yoga teacher. Then in 2011, I discovered I wanted to be a leader. Then in 2012, I applied for graduate school.


 

Motivating the Unmotivated

Robert J. Samuelson recently wrote in an Op/Ed piece about higher education about those who are disconnected from it. He described it perfectly:

"School bores and bothers them. Teaching them is hard, because they're not motivated. But they also make teaching the rest harder. Their disaffection and periodic disruptions drain teachers' time and energy. The climate for learning is poisoned."

His description may sound negative, but really it isn't. He hit the nail on the head, and the only way to overcome that disconnect is:  "... to motivate the unmotivated."

These are not terrible, unwanted students. They are certainly capable of learning, even if their desire remains undiscovered, even to themselves.

How do we, as teachers, motivate the unmotivated?


 

The Things You Have to Give Up

Written by: Sheena Jeffers for Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins

My uncle recently sent me an e-mail with this quote: "The champion wins first, then walks into the arena. Everybody else walks into the arena and then tries to figure out what to do." - Jim Fannin

After I walked across that graduation stage and accepted those two degrees I had worked oh-so-very hard for, I had this cocky confidence and a head full of ideas of exactly what my twenties were supposed to look like. I had already secured a great-paying job (for a recent graduate), and I had already planned on purchasing my first new car. I was 22-year-old, armed with two degrees, a solid GPA and job experience! This was going to be great.

Then four years went by. And I learned so much. And I realized to be a champion, I had a lot to learn, and I had many battles to win before I could be truly successful.


 

Capturing Jealousy: The Little Green Monster

The comments are made in passing...

"I wish I had her feet."

"Man, I wish I could do the splits as easily as you."

"Ugh, her turns are PERFECT. I wish I could turn like that..."

These comments come from a desire within us of wanting to be someone we aren't. We want her legs, her feet, his jumping power, their strength, this or that, over here or over there. The challenge is teaching students to recognize the little green monster before its tentacles reach every aspect of your thought processes, thus affecting every aspect of your life.

How is this done in a performance world where ballerinas have been taught for ages to execute everything the exact same way?


 

Living through Monumental Loss

As performers, we wear our hearts on our sleeves. We put everything out there. We fall in love quickly with everything, because everything serves as inspiration to our gifts. We read in between the lines to try and help ourselves grow as artists. We over analyze, we listen to critiques and sometimes take them personally. We build things up in our minds, to help motivate our focus and drive, and we believe in what we do and who we are.

These are all wonderful qualities. They make us strong. They make us able to do what thousands of people will never be able to do - stand in front of thousands of people and perform.

But these qualities also make us extremely vulnerable.

As artists, our motto has always been: "You have to go there to know there." (Quote from Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.) If we were expected to portray a depressed young girl, we needed to understand what that felt like. If we were to portray an overjoyed, confident go-getter, we needed to live that first, before we could convince someone that we were that.

But making yourself go there, making yourself feel everything, is not always the easiest responsibility. We have to breathe through the lows, and be careful not to get addicted or live only for the highs. It's a balancing act that takes dedication, self-awareness and patience.


 

Raising Positive Dancers

We were recently reading an article by Rhonda Talbot who tackles some tough parenting questions. As educators, our main goal is to foster progress within a strong individual. The foundation of that goal is to help establish a strong individual.

How do we, as teachers, make that happen?


 

Losing the One You Love

Written by: Sheena Jeffers for Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins

The story starts, as many love stories start: Boy sees girl. Girl sees boy. Some good conversation and laughs later, boy becomes "boyfriend" and girl becomes "girlfriend." Then, they fall in love.

We all know the next part is supposed to be "...and they live happily ever after." It is hard to admit (and even harder to live with) that all stories may not be destined to include that sentence.


 

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