Teagan spent the past school year attending Saturday morning dance class. You may also know that she had her end-of-year recital this past weekend.
This was not a big recital with a well lit stage, a darkened audience, and 4 year olds running about in confusion and sparkly costumes. It was a dance reception. It was the youngest class (Preschool Creative) demonstrating what they'd been doing for the past 9 months. It was the pre-ballet girls (age 5) showing their warm ups. Each class also did a simplified ballet waltz that demonstrated the difference in what the preschool children learn vs what the pre-ballet children learn. 2 of the older girls (age 12) did a brief demonstration en pointe in beautiful, flowy, blue costumes.
Teagan was excited. The reception was held in the larger dance studio downstairs. Class is normally in one of the smaller upstairs studios (Up a steep and very narrow stairway... to a voice like a metronome...). Chairs were set up around the front and one side perimeter of the studio- audience lined the space.
The girls gathered in the hallway for a group picture and then came in with their teacher, Miss Katie. She's an ideal first dance teacher. She will forever be part of Teagan's dance experience. I love Miss Katie... she personifies the reason why we chose the studio we did. It's a family owned studio- started by Miss Sue a decade ago (after she partnered with others 3 different times to start studios over the previous 20 years, prior to going out on her own in 1999). Miss Sue is still head of the studio and her daughters are both part of the business- Miss Laurie (whom we see every time we are there) is Marketing Director and Miss Julie is the Artistic Director (I've not met her). This is Miss Katie's profile from the studio's website:
Katie walked into her first ballet class with Miss Sue when she was six years old and has not left the dance studio since. In 1994 she became a teacher’s assistant helping with the preschool creative and pre-ballet classes, and by 1998 she was teaching. She danced with the Gregory Hancock Dance Theater from 1996 – 2002 and was involved in the annual student production of The Nutcracker. She graduated from Indiana University in 2007 with a B.S.P.H in Health Administration and a minor in Dance. She has experience in Ballet, Pointe, Modern, and Jazz. Katie could not imagine her life without dance, and could not imagine teaching anywhere else!I bolded the part I love. Miss Katie started lessons with this studio (prior to the changes of names and such) when she was 6 years old! She's basically part of this family. And several of the instructors are similar in their experience and connection to the school. Miss Katie... is extremely patient, pretty, agile, graceful... she is great with the girls and they, of course, adore her. I've learned something from her, too. But I'll save that for another post.
Anyway. The girls all come in with Miss Katie. The Hello Dance is when each girl, solo, crosses the studio floor to Miss Katie, curtsies, and then waits for the other girls to cross. Each girl is encouraged to do any kind of dance she wants to do. Typically, we see running, skipping, and sometimes a lot of twirling.
Teagan watched a handful of girls go before her. When she was called on to come across, she began with this graceful, arms floating, on her toes, serious ballerina dance. It melted my heart and I felt tears swell in my eyes. The audience reacted to the grace, creativity and ballet-ness my little girl was showing. There was a delighted and tender "Aw!" and "Oh!" from the parents and grandparents and friends...
Which did NOT sit well with my little diva who was completely focused on her dance until she became aware of being watched.
She was half participating for the rest of the class. Going through the motions, distracted by the people, by Mommy watching her. I got the huffy "Mom!" eyeroll a few times. It was funny- but not. Cute- but not.
Miss Katie demonstrated what she wanted the girls to do for their goodbye- Leap across the floor, then spin one way, spin the other, spin the other. All with grace and slowness and purpose and control. Teagan was in place to go first... but when Miss katie called on her... without attitude, only honesty, my baby said "I don't remember what all you did!"
A few other girls go- mostly just running or skipping, a few attempt a leap but haven't a clue what they are doing. It's absolutely adorable. It's again Teagan's turn. This time, she is ready. She has seen Miss Katie dance like a ballerina and she is back to being in tune with the dance, feeling the purpose. Wanna know how you can tell that she is focused? That she is unaware of the audience? That she is feeling the music, feeling the dance?