Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Recharge My Battery

June 2008, as the school year came to a close I realized my battery was completely dead. My creative energy was lifeless, limp and short circuited. I usually spend my summer eyes and ears wide open for new ideas for September. As I stated the summer of 2008, I felt my creative juices were dry. I prayed and just had to trust that when September rolled around I would somehow be ready.

July 28, 2008, I found out, help was on the way. I attended dance NJ annual membership meeting and workshops. There I found out I had been awarded a professional development scholarship from Curtain Call Costumes to attend Dance Teachers Magazine Summer Conference. My prayers had been answered! Along with the workshops I took at the Dance NJ session, the Dance Teachers Conference helped me tap back into my creative energies.

Joan Meyers Brown, artistic director of Philadanco and keynote speaker for the conference spoke about how we as dancers need to refresh ourselves so we can give our best to our students. As I took each class, I realized I needed to get out of these classes what I needed for myself before I could even begin to think about what I was going to teach in September. That attitude helped me enjoy the conference immensely. It helped me enjoy being a dancer, willing to stretch my body beyond limits to see how far I could go. How could I possibly encourage my students to try new movements, explore new dance genres and endure painful exercises if I wasn't willing to do the same? So - during this conference I got to experience the elongated stretches of Pilates, multidisciplinary approaches to modern, rhythmic explorations of tap, sensuous movements of Latin, contemporary urban influences of hip hop, incredible flexibility of yoga, inspiring creativity of the National Dance Institute and an exciting Broadway experience with In the Heights. I was exhausted when it was all over, but I had danced like I hadn't danced in years.

I was now ready to go back into my dance studio in Newark Public Schools and create a place for my students to create, practice, learn and experience their authentic selves. Judith Jamison, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, who was the 2008 Dance Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, commented that "dance teachers create a sacred space in the dance studio." We do so much more than teach dance. We teach life skills through dance. We relive history and reinforce social customs. We teach how to live life to the fullest because in dance, nothing is impossible. I now know, my creative juices cannot ever completely dry out. this great art form comes from a place so deep in my soul that it is always protected. It sometimes gets covered up by the business of life but eventually it emerges and keeps on giving. As it continues to emerge in me I continue to evolve. When my time on this earth is over, dance will continue to live in the lives of the students I've touched. after 20 years of teaching dance in the public schools I thought my best days were behind me. I now know I still have so much more to offer. I am so thankful I accepted the call to teach dance years ago. I am blessed to have been called to this great profession of dance teacher.

June 2009 - time to recharge my battery again. Stay tuned for the adventures of this summer.