Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

Mondays are a hectic day for me. I go to ballet class in the morning, come home and go into a flurry of housework (today’s agenda: laundry, dishes, sweeping/mopping, dusting, gardening, and tossing some food into a crock pot… all in two and a half hours), then I grab a quick shower and it’s back to the ballet studio to teach.

(Weirdly, that’s how my Mondays were in Clear Lake last year: class in the morning, housework and cooking, then back to the studio to teach for three hours.)

This Monday comes with a cute story:

Background: Our spring performance is this weekend, so our rehearsal schedule has been getting more intense. We did some rehearsing in costume yesterday, so I decided to do my “performance hair”– a high bun. Now, since my hair isn’t terribly long and thus my bun isn’t very big, I’ve decided to wear a “fake bun”– think a scrunchie of hair curlicues. I make a regular bun, put that fake bun around it, then add the hairnet and hairpins and viola! I suddenly have more hair.

Which brings us to our story: In my intermediate class this afternoon, I was explaining to a student the importance a bun for ballet class (she had a long braid which had whipped her in the face when she did a quick detourne). Another student, who is a Junior Trainee in the company,  interjected with “Your bun looked so pretty yesterday!”

Me: Really my fake hair?

Her: It was fake?!

Me: Yup ( then explained the reason for it).

Her: It was so pretty!

… Well, at least I know now that it looks believable.

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Aside: A musing about teaching

Ten years ago, when I wanted teaching work, I would be non-stop e-mailing, sending out resumes, and making phone calls.

These days, I get texts from people I don’t know saying “Can you sub at my studio tomorrow?” because someone else recommended me to them.

I ain’t complaining. 😀

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Aside: Dance Teacher Problems

I’m on year 13 of constantly having children’s dance class music stuck in my head.

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Aside: All in a day’s work

Today was the first day back at dance after spring break. It was a great night– I finished two recital dances for my Creative Movement classes, and made good progress on the Contemporary dance for my Level Threes (they’re the only non-beginner class I have, so their dance is…complex. It’s looking nice, and will look even better once it is finished and cleaned!). Competitions begin this coming Friday (!) and recital costumes have almost all arrived. There’s a lot of excitement in the air around our studio.

…but the nicest moment happened when I was sitting in a circle stretching a class of 3-and-4 year-olds. Out of nowhere the little girl next to me stood up, threw her arms around me, and declared “I love you!”

This prompted her classmates to follow suit, and within seconds they were all were near-shouting “I love you!” and piling on me for hugs.

I love my job.

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Interning and Improvising

Well, I haven’t been doing so well on my resolution to blog more, have I? In my defense, the last two and a half weeks were not very blog-worthy.

So! My internship! Despite missing two weeks (one due to my knee, another time class was cancelled because the entire city iced up and shut down), it’s going well and I’m really enjoying it. As part of our teacher training we need to observe a certain amount of classes, and today I went in early to observe their Creative Dramatics class of mostly 3- 4 year olds. It was a really lovely class– the teacher was so patient and so great with the little ones, and I loved her energy! And of course, the kiddos were adorable and funny. I learned a lot from watching them work together!

After that it was time to assist my regular class. It was going to be a little different today– the modern teacher was dancing out of state, and the improv teacher had another teaching gig this evening; so we were to have improv first, followed by an hour of yoga. Before class the school’s education director pulled me aside and asked if I would be okay working with the students myself, in case there was any gap between when the first teacher had to leave and the second teacher was ready. I said “sure, of course” and immediately knew what activity I could do.

We had a really fun improv class; doing an exercise called “Complete the form” and working with different-sized spaces to dance in. By the time 5:20 rolled around the improv teacher had to leave, and the yoga teacher hadn’t arrived yet (and she’s always early). I gave the kids a water break, then circled them up for an activity.

At first I was nervous. The teens all had a lot of energy, it was my first time working with them “solo” (well, aside from the accompanist), and two other teachers were observing the class. I swallowed my nerves and explained the exercise– each student would say their name, and do a dance move for each syllable of their name (I demonstrated by doing three arm movements– the “disco arm”– for my three-syllable name). Then the next person would do the same, and repeat the moves of the person before them. I also explained that this would also help me, the new-ish lady, learn their names a little better.

So, we did! It was pretty fun. Once we had gone all the way around the circle, we got word that the yoga teacher was stuck in traffic behind a wreck (Houston traffic is just awful). With that, I told the students that they would pair up and make their own little dances out of the moves we had just done in “the name game.” They didn’t need to use all the names, and they could choose to say the names aloud (as we did in the name game) or not; then each pair would present their “duet” to the class. If time permitted, they would then show their pieces a second time– with different music (the musician– who is awesome, by the way– played a moderate/fast tempo for the first round; the second round would be slower, and they would have to make their movement fit the new tempo).

I was really impressed with what some of these kids came up with! They have been taking modern and improvisation for a couple of years, and they are good with manipulating a phrase and making variations (level, speed, and dynamics) of the movements. Each duet brought a little something different to the table. After each pair presented their movement, I asked the rest of the class for feedback. All of the students were very supportive and encouraging of their fellow dancers.

By the time everyone had presented their duet and gotten feedback, the yoga teacher had arrived (after sitting in traffic for over ninety minutes. Poor gal!). I thanked the students for their wonderful work and told them to go grab a yoga mat; then we all– myself and musician included– got to enjoy some Forrest Yoga (I’ve only taken a  few classes in that form of yoga, but I like it. It feels good, and the teacher is all kinds of wonderful).

After class, the two teachers who had been observing gave me some compliments on my insta-subbing; which was very nice to hear because I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. The yoga teacher thanked me for jumping in (hey, no problem!), and we commiserated for a moment over the general suckiness of Houston traffic.

And then it was my turn to go get stuck in traffic. Boy, was I ever glad to get out of the cold, wet weather and into a hot shower and a dry martini!


All in all, I had a really wonderful time. It was a great way to spend a cold, rainy, yucky afternoon.

(I realize that this post is probably full of semicolon abuse and tense-shifting issues, but eh. It’s been a long day and I can proofread tomorrow. I’m sure my three blog readers* will understand.)

*Three is probably generous. I’m sure it’s more like one blog reader. Hi, Mom!

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“Welcome to my Christmas song
I’d like to thank you for the year
So I’m sending you this Christmas card
To say it’s nice to have you here…”

So began the song that my Jazz Ones danced to for their Christmas presentation on the last day of dance. I only had three students for that class (out of four), and all three had older sisters in the Jazz Three class next door; so we had a quiet presentation. We warmed up and presented their dance a few times; then the parents left to watch their older children. I took my girls across the floor for a bit, then for the last five minutes we went into the next room so they could watch the big sisters dance.

My next class was a different story! It’s a big class, so the room was full of dancers, parents, and little siblings. The chairs in the room prevented the door from closing, so noise from the hallway trickled in. The first ten minutes felt a little chaotic! But then the noise died down, the younger siblings got settled in, and the class went well. We did a barre, then I told the story of ‘The Nutcracker’ with props before the girls presented their Russian Dance. It was super cute, and they did a great job!

After I teach my regular classes, I assist with the last 30-45 minutes of Ballet Three (It’s such a large class, they need an extra teacher). They did their presentation on Monday, since their regular teacher would be performing in ‘Nutcracker’ the rest of the week. Their Thursday sub wanted them to present it at least once for the few parents who had come to watch the midweek class (The sub, Miss M, is a sweet lady who always gives a fun and lighthearted class). Only problem was that their regular teacher had taken their music with him; so M suggested we dance the piece while singing the song (it was “O Holy Night.”
So we did. Their was a bit of giggling as we stumbled over some of the words (“something, something, and His gospel is peace”), but we did the dance. Afterwards M made the girls gather around me for picture, and everybody laughed and hugged as Ballet Three finished their last class of the year. It was jovial and fun.

My last class of the night/year was pointe: three students, two parents watching, no presentation because they are beginners and at the barre for most of the class. We had a nice & quiet class; and after I handed out my last candy cane I tossed on a Santa hat, bellowed “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!,” and headed out the door to begin my vacation.

Yesterday was a day of shopping, wrapping, and packing (there is still one thing I need to buy, but I couldn’t find it in my neighborhood and my “sleigh” is full anyway). Now I’m sitting in the airport, ready to jingle all the way to Pennsylvania. My flight leaves in 45 minutes, and (Lord willing) I’ll Be Home For Christmas in under six hours.

Have a wonderful weekend! Ho ho ho!

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‘Twas the week before Christmas…

…and it’s Holiday Open House week at the dance studio!

Presentations began on Saturday, and have been going well so far. My littlest ones were adorable, and did a great job for their “audience (and behaved exceptionally well with the grown-ups in the room!).” I was so pleased with how much my Primary class has improved since August. They’re young (5 and 6), but they work very hard!

On Monday after class, the mothers of one of my Creative students told me that I had inspired her to start taking ballet classes. How nice is that! She and her daughter will both be dancing in the recital this spring, which I think is sweet and will be a special memory for them.

I was most proud of my Contemporary class on Monday. They’re a hard-working, motivated group; and they’ve happily taken everything I’ve thrown at them and worked until they got it. They gave a really nice presentation of combinations we’ve worked on, and conducted themselves professionally.
They also showed a very lovely piece– I’d started it at the beginning of the semester just as a combination; but they really loved it and asked if they could do it for Christmas (I really loved the song, so I was game). It turned into a three-and-a half-minute piece (although repetition and manipulation of choreography accounted for a good chunk of that), and it looked *really* nice.

My Ballet Ones always do a little pice from the Nutcracker , to get them familiar with the story and music (last year they did Marzipan and a short version of Flowers). This year one of my classes did Spanish, and the other is doing Russian tonight. The kiddos get excited about dancing something from Nutcracker, and I love to see their enthusiasm for it (my Thursday group really loves that Russian dance!).

I’d write more, but it’s time for me to be on my way– I’ve got to finish up some Christmas shopping, then teach my last dance classes of the year!

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