Life Lately - Episode 4 - Joy of Teaching

Hello hello there, y'all!  It's summertime in the city for sure and things are getting hot! Like it's lowest-temperature-on-full blast, I-could-cook-an-egg-on-my-car, kind of hot. Whoo-wee. I'm telling you. 

Other than that, we're rolling along just fine! Pyro Man is just a week away from being done with summer school and that puts us one step closer to finishing up this second degree. Half-way there, ya'll, we are half. way. there! 

All my summer camps are officially done and I leave for my teacher conference oh-so soon! This isn't quite vacation but one afternoon by the pool at a resort sounds pretty darn close to me. As soon as I get back, it's down to Texas I go for a couple of weeks to start setting A Chorus Line, one of my favorites. I'm so unbelievably honored to work on this project and with a director I adore. It's going to be a special show for sure. 

In all this preparation for the fall and wrapping up on summer break, I've been reflecting on teaching dance quite a bit lately. These last few years my job has shifted to more lecture based courses and in trying to balance that with more choreography opportunities, my actual time spent moving and teaching dance has dwindled some. Trust me when I saw I have enjoyed shifting gears, having bigger responsibilities, and getting to dive deeper into material I love! You want me to talk about choreography? Awesome! Let's go! On the other hand, more lecture means less movement in a sense. I've known for some time that I've missed that part of teaching, the technique classes that is, and so I made a conscious and strong effort to put myself back on the dance floor more often this summer. Oh my goodness, how full my heart feels again! 

There is nothing like helping a student understand a step or nail a movement for the first time. Just to see their excitement gave me a sense of accomplishment, a boost of confidence. The energy that came pouring out of these young dancers was incredible; there was truly a sense of euphoria at the end of the class when we're all left the room smiling, sweaty and full of joy.  I pushed myself to get back into styles I haven't had to do in a bit, working hard to dust off the rust. I felt challenged, sometimes frustrated, but at the end, when I had a whole room of dancers moving with me, dancing their hearts out, it felt so satisfying. 

Sometimes I think you have to go back and give yourself the chance to recharge in something that fills you up. It's so very easy to become stagnant or even numb, hunched over a computer reading essays, reviewing someone else's lesson plan, putting out fires, handling emails, and trying desperately to help students learn from mistakes without making too many of my own. Nobody ever said being a leader is easy. Sometimes I just miss having more opportunities crank up the music, let the blood start pumping, let go and just dance.

I got the gift to do just that this summer, to craft fun movement phrases, to search for music that screamed dance, to smile at students and invite them to have a good time, to focus without being too serious. I loved every second and even though I came home exhausted and sore--oh my aging body, y'all--it was worth every moment. 

Looking down the barrel of a full semester, anticipating the challenges and hurdles to come, I want to make sure that I keep in full view the joy that teaching brings me. Not to forget about the hard work or frustrations, those will always be there no matter what the work is, but to not let that take away the fact that at the end of the day, I get to teach about something wonderfully beautiful and unique and that I truly love it. I get to work with amazing artists, young performers, talented teachers, and brilliant managers on a daily basis. How lucky am I that I get to do what I do? 

The answer is very lucky and with a full dancer heart, I'm ready to get back into a new semester with that sunny and positive disposition reinvigorated!