Here we are, about to begin a new school year, which always brings with it a certain amount of excitement, anticipation, and even a bit of anxiety. Sometimes you're starting at a new school, sometimes just a new grade. Either way, every kid knows this feeling well. So does every teacher. My mother is an elementary teacher, and growing up I saw her go through that spectrum of feeling at the end of summer. And yes, dance teachers experience it, too.
This year, that feeling is especially strong for me, as this is my first year as the director of my own dance studio. Sometimes it's difficult to concentrate with all the thoughts buzzing around in my head like bee: Am I ready? Is the studio ready? Did I get in touch with so-and-so with the answer to that question? Are my shoes clean? Do I have everything I need? (And this one never goes away!) Will the kids like me?
If you're reading this, I hope your kids like me, first of all. I love them. Some of them I don't know, maybe haven't even met yet, but I love them. I'd appreciate it if you remind them of this when I tell them things they don't want to hear: No, you aren't getting pointe shoes right now. No, you aren't ready for that harder class yet. Please don't practice back handsprings in my class. Don't raise your leg so high until we get your alignment under control. Sorry, I gave that part you wanted to someone else.
Disappointment can be hard to swallow. I know; I've been there, too. I'm working on a post about pointe readiness and I have a story to share there about how I did not get my pointe shoes when the rest of my class did. I've experienced many other setbacks like this along the way. The shape my life has taken is very different from what I envisioned as a child enamored with tutus and tiaras, or even as an adolescent admiring the ballerinas of the world's elite companies. But it's uniquely mine, and it fits. I would not know this if I had given up the first - or even the dozenth - time someone told me no.
Learning to accept disappointment with grace and not allow it to derail you is arguably one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn when studying the performing arts. That, to me, is the ultimate goal of what I do here. Not every dance student goes on to be a professional dancer. Not all of them even want to. But all of them will, God willing, go on to be capable, successful adults, and lessons like this learned in the studio will carry over and enrich their lives for years. I know I fall back on these lessons daily, whether I am in the studio or not. I wish the same for your child.
Classes begin in just a few short days. Let's make this a great year!