During a recent interview, I was asked who my dance heroes are.
It took me just a second to think about it because although there are many famous dancers I admire, I realized that my answer was actually much closer to home: Teachers. Teachers are my dance heroes. They are the ones who make the dance world go round!
Teachers are keeping the practice of dance alive; they’re nurturing it and breathing life into it during every class they teach. They are inspiring generation after generation of new students to find joy in movement, and to discover an appreciation for the traditions dance has to offer. Passing down the styles and techniques that were established long ago is SUCH a unique responsibility.
Put that together with the ability to inspire children, motivate them to action, and shape their view of art, and you have the whole package of my answer wrapped up!
In my mind, there’s no one else who has such a powerful effect than a teacher.
When I was growing up, my dance teachers (and school teachers) were often the lifeline to my passion. I hit some tough times in my teens, some very influential teachers saw me and encouraged me – some even supported my dancing financially.
When I was 16 I started learning how to teach so that I, too, could contribute to my lessons, and from the start, I was hooked. Teaching dance is truly this magical combination of sharing, advising, demonstrating, and inspiring. It empowers you to trust in your abilities … and your creativity!
But teaching isn’t always a joy. Sometimes teaching is downright HARD. Teachers invest so much of themselves into their students, and it can be hard to offer just the right correction, or to enforce discipline in just the right way, or to make casting, judging, or level placement decisions. Teachers are human, and while a tough moment builds trust and responsibility, that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
There is no teacher I know who lets those hard days stop them. In fact, they seem to be even MORE fueled up to have an impact because they know they are making a difference, even if that difference can’t be seen overnight. Even if it takes years.
When I see a class of students at the studio with their eyes locked on the teacher, grins on all their faces, and a little bit of laughter bubbling over as they move their bodies to the music, I am positively lifted UP.
It takes a special person to come into their workplace every day and commit to bringing that kind of joy into the classroom.
These days, I am more of a teacher of teachers, since I coach studio owners more than I do students, but I still uncover those joyful moments. No, we’re not learning complex choreography, but we ARE building knowledge and skills together. I’m still getting to teach, and they’re still getting to learn. Then they’re bringing those lessons to THEIR teachers, and the education cycle continues …
And so I want to leave you with this final thought: If there’s a teacher out there whose influence made your life better, greater, stronger, or healthier, reach out to that person TODAY. Give them a quick thank you for having been a part of your life. Tell them they’re a hero … because they ARE.