Finally ready to join you all in 2015

I know a lot of people don’t like New Year’s resolutions and the like but as a planner and an organizer, I enjoy the whole process of a new beginning. Each new page on my daily planner is a wide open space and I look forward to that opportunity. Each new day, week, month, year presents to me a brand new canvas and I think that is exciting!

Last year meshed right into this year as we said our final goodbyes to my sweet mother-in-law. There was nothing warm, comforting, nor Hallmark card about it. The jagged edge of this parting makes it all the more difficult to wrap the whole thing up neatly and move on.

It seems like the last big chunk of years has been tethered to this or that, all the different and difficult phases of my PhD, particularly the dissertation; my mother-in-law’s life altering stroke and now her passing. Everything in my life has been wound and wrapped around these things. Now I should feel free but instead I feel rather precariously out on a ledge and very much without direction.

Remember that scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Andy crawls through the poop pipe? Freedom is on the other side but oh, the journey!!! I think I’m feeling a little like Red when he was released – Red was here too. A combination of Andy and Red. Okay, it’s certainly not that bad. But I do feel like I’ve crawled through the pipe and I’m still standing in all that mess. I’m at my heaviest weight ever, I’m completely out of shape, the stress and worry has taken its toll, and in many ways I feel like I’ve hit some place that very much has a rock bottom to it.

And still I rise – in the words that sound in my mind in the fabulous voice of Dr. Maya Angelou. I know it’s the end of the January but I’m ready for my New Year to begin. I may be a little behind but I’m here, I’m out of the pipe, and I’m ready to find myself again. And I’m ready to do that with music and movement. I think I’m finally ready for a ballet class.

All will be well. Who wants to dance with me?

Image from the Internet. Owner unknown.

Image from the Internet. Owner unknown.

Sharing Ballet: What makes a ballet teacher good?

I love books. Books are some of my favorite things ever. Books can take you places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’d never otherwise meet, and teach you any number of brilliant, beautiful things. But I guarantee you one thing… you cannot learn ballet from books. You cannot learn ballet from a video. You cannot learn ballet off of YouTube, Dancing with the Stars, or by watching every DVD that Paris Opera has ever made (I know, I’ve seen practically every DVD that Paris Opera had ever made and I still cannot properly pirouette). You need a teacher. Learning ballet is impossible without a good teacher.

And as much as I could go on and on about what constitutes a good teacher, I will limit myself to the two things I think are most important in a ballet teacher. I think this will work out because so many things are actually built upon a foundation of these two things, without them so many other necessary traits for a good ballet teacher cannot exist.

First and foremost, a good ballet teacher must love ballet. Not just dance or movement but ballet. If you have a ballet teacher that doesn’t mind ballet but loves jazz, you will know it. I knew it when I took class with just such a teacher. He spent more time talking about jazz hands than anything else in a beginning ballet class! Why? Because he really likes jazz hands not ballet hands. A good ballet teacher loves ballet – loves doing it, loves watching it, loves talking about it, loves thinking about it, loves it, loves it, loves it. When a ballet teacher loves ballet then they spend time seeing what is new, they know about different companies and dancers, they listen to a variety of music for dancing, they try out different products for training, they spend time with ballet and they bring this all back to you, the student.

Hence the second thing that makes a ballet teacher great – a love for teaching. A person can be a great dancer but not really enjoy teaching, they aren’t necessarily going to be able to teach well. Teaching is an art and a skill in itself. A great ballet teacher enjoys the art of teaching ballet, they enjoy being in the studio as a teacher, they enjoy watching their students grow, they work on their ability to teach well, they love teaching ballet. You absolutely know when a teacher wants to be there with you, teaching you, coaching you, training you, and sharing their love of ballet with you.

When a ballet teacher loves ballet and loves teaching, you have yourself a winner. Everything else – patience, creativity, kindness, energy, innovation – it’s all going to stem from a love for ballet and a love for teaching. Teaching ballet in a lot of ways is really just sharing a great and overwhelming love for ballet because ballet is not merely something to casually learn to do, it’s not something that you can learn in an offhanded way, it’s not something you fall into and have a little fun with every once in a while when you have a few hours with nothing better to do. A good ballet teacher is your direct access to a shared love of ballet because a good ballet teacher the key to the gateway into a lifetime of dancing and of loving dance as a ballet dancer.