As a dance educator, I understand that my students are in dance class with me for so many different reasons. I understand that most of my dancers are not seeking a life on the stage. The probability of my students seriously pursuing a professional dance career is slim. Regardless, I believe that that every last one of them deserve my total investment in teaching them about dance as if they were.
The survival of this art form rests not only in the people who do it, but in the people who value it and will advocate for, and seek it as a part of their lives. When I look at my students, I am looking to do more than produce great dancers. I am looking to produce dance patrons, critics, historians, technicians, choreographers, teachers, and advocates. I am looking to awaken and nurture a life-long love affair with dance of all genres.
As a teacher, I deeply consider what I most want my students to take from my class, which is more than just the proper way to do a tendu. I understand that most of them don’t really care about the proper way to do a tendu. They just want to dance. They want to let go and experience. This presents a unique challenge for me: How do I teach the skill of dance technique with integrity and not discourage or quell their love for movement? How do I keep them motivated when the perfecting of dance steps is not rewarding? I value their process and their progress. As I demand more, I do not let them forget that I have not forgotten how far they have come since we first met.
The technician means more to me than the technique. If I am successful, despite their ability to ever execute a dance step at a professional level, they will at least have the cognition of how to do so. They will at least have an appreciation of the work that goes into being able to do so. They will at least know abundantly more about a tendu than they did when they first came into my class.
When they leave me and go on to become professional dancers, administrators, dance patrons, critics, historians, technicians, choreographers, teachers, and advocates, I want them to do so with nostalgia and empathy. I want them to be walking advertisements for the joys and benefits of participating in dance. That is the only way our art form will survive.