About once a month, while my young students are stretching, I tell them the storyline of a ballet or about a famous dancer. I think it is so important that my students know more than just technique, but the history of what they have chosen to study. I remember as a student just loving when a teacher would tell us a story. However, some stories were all about themselves, had little to do with what we were doing and took so long that our muscles would grow cold listening. I try to keep my stories short with lessons that are on topic, but I have found that my students not only love them, but learn important lessons in the process. Here are a few of their favorites:
The time Miss Erin pulled the barre off the wall. I was about ten and weighed all of 60 lbs. One of my teachers asked me to take the advanced class, so I stood at a little barre by itself at the back of the classroom and was trying so hard not to embarrass myself in front of all the older students whom I admired. I was doing rond de jambe en l’air when the small barre actually came off the wall in my hand. My face turned beet red and I started to think, ‘Oh my goodness, maybe no one will notice, but what will happen when I come to center? I’ll just have to put it on the floor and everyone will know!’ Right about then, one of the older boys started laughing hysterically and told everyone, ‘Look, little Erin pulled the barre off the wall!’ Everyone laughed and I was so mortified. Tears came up and I was trying so hard not to cry. I made it through the whole class without shedding a tear until I got to my mother’s car and then cried my eyes out. I still like to think those older kids loosened that barre over the years, but I never sat in my heels again!