One of the many things going through my mind early this morning (3:09 am) is how honored I have been to be a teacher for the past several years. It's quite funny to think about. Actually, I inherited my teaching position from the dancer who left the company opening the Drosselmeyer spot for me all those years ago!
A few years back, I was asked to choreograph an abbreviated version of "The Nutcracker" for the school in which I teach. (Miller-Marley School of Dance and Voice.) It was quite an undertaking for me. The most challenging parts were choreographing the "Snow" scene and the "Waltz of the Flowers" scene because I created them without any dancers. I had a video camera, a notebook and myself.
Yesterday, my students performed the majority of my ballet at a benefit luncheon, and I was able to attend. I feel like a broken record because in many of my posts I keep speaking of how proud I am of those I am in contact with. I assure anyone reading that this is not due to a lack of vocabulary or creativity! It's the honest truth. This time my joy comes from watching people I have known from the time they were twelve grow and prepare to graduate high school. The thrill of seeing them take what I have taught them (along with many other teachers, naturally) and grow artistically as they mature into late teen/early adults is quite a moving experience.
I stumbled upon teaching. I never really planned to do it, but I have a hard time turning down opportunities that are challenging. As for choreographing, I've never pretended to be a George Balanchine or any other big-wig choreographer. I have always tried to be myself and make things that I would enjoy dancing, and luckily I've had people enjoy my creations.
I was humbled today to see my work being danced with conviction on two panels of dance floor laid over a carpeted ballroom floor. Even though the conditions weren't perfect, the kids looked like they were having a wonderful time.
It makes me think a bit how proud a parent must be to watch their children grow. If I receive so much joy from a student ballet performance, I cannot even imagine what a mother and father could feel.
As a performer, I have made many choices. Obviously, the biggest one is putting myself into a field in which I have had to spend the bulk of my energy and focus on myself. Many people around me are married (even some of the dancers,) and many of my friends are beginning to have or have had children. I don't envy them. That is their path, and I am doing what I love.
Today I realized something. As cheesy as it may seem, my students are my children. I believe I have played a vital role in helping them grow into themselves, whatever that may mean for each of them individually at this point in time. As children grow, so do their parents, and like a parent, these kids have seen me in good and bad moments. We've laughed with and at one another. I've talked to them as they cried. They've seen me lose my temper (yes, I threw and broke a chair once-great story.) All of the things we've gone together through have been remarkable for me. We've had a great time.
Sure, I may teach elsewhere in the future, but along with my ballet company career ending, so this chapter feels as if it is closing. I will miss terribly the kids that I am teaching and have taught. It is cliche, but I know that I am the one who has learned the most during my years of teaching.
Congratulations kiddos. I am so excited to see your upcoming performances in December. Thank you for taking such good care of my choreography. I look forward to the rest of our year together.