My closest ballet friend and I met in ballet class when we were 10 and 11 years old, respectively. We were a pair of serious and dedicated ballerinas who only let our guards down (and acted like the kids we were) with one another. Our parents actually had to remind us to let loose and have fun every now and then. To that, my friend would usually say, "I don't do ballet because it's fun. I do it because it's hard."
For most of my life, that's how I've operated. I choose the activities that are challenging. I make goals and plan my life around accomplishing them.
Because I had that kind of mindset as a kid, it's difficult for me to remember as an adult that most of the kids I'm teaching take dance because it's fun. Most of them do not have their sights set on joining a ballet company. Many might not even plan to dance beyond May or next year or high school. While I still want to provide the training foundation that a student who does want to dance professionally should have, I am trying to be more focused on my students' joy and less focused on the perfection of their technique.
This past week, I had one of those great dance teacher/studio owner days. I entered the studio stressed out about a last-minute scheduling change we had to make due to some building repairs in my studio. I was worried parents would be confused or upset by some cancellations and schedule adjustments. I was soon reminded how blessed I am to have a studio full of understanding and supportive parents and kids. Everyone was gracious about the changes and excited about the building repair. I really have the best families at my school.
Inside the studio, all of my students were happy and cheerful. I noticed the tremendous progress they were making technically and the joy this progress seemed to give them. It was just a fun night.
As we work toward our end-of-year show and I make plans for the future of my school, I'm trying to remember those moments of joy; the moments that make me happy I'm a dance teacher.