Stories of a Dance Teacher

When Your Child’s Abilities Don’t Meet Your Expectations

When Your Child’s Abilities Don’t Meet Your Expectations
(And What You Can Do About It)


Every year at about this time, I find myself having the same discussion with many parents.  Every time casting goes up, every time certain dancers get pointe shoes and others do not, every time level placements come out, I receive the same phone calls from distraught and disgruntled parents.  Their child is mortified and so disappointed.  All his or her friends got better roles, got moved up or got pointe shoes and now he or she is feeling left behind and left out.  Everyone has experienced disappointment and everyone has wanted something very much that they couldn’t yet achieve and it never gets any easier.  What I find after talking more than five minutes with some of these parents is that yes, their child is disappointed, but the parents themselves are sometimes even more so.

I find myself using a line from a dear friend of mine, Diane Cypher, who also owns a studio, ‘I am so sorry your child’s abilities don’t meet your expectations.’  The point being, it is important to celebrate your child’s strengths, but to also be aware of their weaknesses and be realistic with your expectations so your child can be realistic with his or hers.

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Lessons Learned From Injury


Dancer : Alexis Krueger
Photo by : Geek With a Lens

It always amazes me to say this, but I’ve been dancing and teaching for over 30 years now.  I teach 24 classes a week.  I teach 9 classes at the University, 4 classes at the Community College, once a week for the local professional modern company and 10 classes a week for the studio I co-own as well as help run the rehearsals and choreograph for our many productions; we just finished mounting our Nutcracker production.  Through all of it, I have never had a major injury.  That is, until about a month and a half ago.

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The Stories of a Dance Teacher

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!

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