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Dance Teacher’s Heaven

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My fantasy for life after teaching

By Diane Gudat

The life of the dance teacher is much like a never-ending rollercoaster ride. We struggle to climb phenomenal hills only to drop back into the unknown. We travel through countless spirals and loops only to fall through dark tunnels, which then hurl us into blinding sunlight. We navigate twists and turns our entire lives, sometimes hanging on with white knuckles and other times throwing our arms over our heads with reckless abandon. We scream, we laugh, we cry, and at the height of it all, someone takes our picture to capture the moment. But what happens when the ride is over?

The current press on floundering starlets and rock stars who go into plush rehab resorts has left me wondering why there are no fabulous rehab programs or retirement homes designed for aging dance teachers. After all, we have an addictive gene that deserves equal attention and pampering. I have a few suggestions that might work for just such a facility.

First, it must have moving sidewalks or, at the very least, ramps. With knees like ours, stairs are out of the question. Elevators will play only upbeat show tunes, karaoke style, so that residents can freely assert their expertise with lyrics. The PA system must be extra-loud; dance teachers are in various stages of deafness due to the occupational hazard of standing in front of stereos their entire lives.

There will be no exercise programs of any kind. We have waited our entire lives to be fat and lazy. The last thing we want to see is an overly enthusiastic 20-something with a perfect body in yoga pants with an inspirational saying across the seat.

All rooms will be private, but residents will be issued life-sized stuffed children to scatter over the floor to simulate the hotel rooms they have shared with countless students over the years. Each fake child will come complete with a large dance bag that spills on its own, as well as an oversized garment bag to overcrowd the closet. A limit of no more than seven cats and/or one dog per room will be strictly enforced.

Each room will be equipped with a small stage, complete with a remote-control spotlight for those times when the bug to perform cannot be fully medicated away. Phones can be set to silent or, if preferred, placed in a constant ringing mode that never has to be answered. No newsletters or bulletin boards will be permitted.

The bars (there must be several, and the word must not end with the letters “re”) must remain open 24 hours a day and serve specialty concoctions such as the Shuffle Off to La-La Land, Rond de Jamaica Rum Tum Tugger, Put Me à Terre, and of course, a wide assortment of Manhattans. Bar stools will hydraulically rise after patrons have been placed on them at ground level and will include harnesses to protect those who have uncontrolled movement flourishes.

Only high-quality entertainment with impeccable costuming and perfectly edited music will be scheduled in the elaborate resort theater. All residents will be issued microphones to allow them to critique the show directly from their seats. Seating will be available backstage for those who cannot imagine watching a show from the front. All seats will be equipped with heat and massage options.

There will be a costume library with a full array of boas, canes, derbies, tutu bands, and, of course, tiaras of all description. Powder-blue tuxedos and maribou-accented gowns should be readily available in all sizes.

Theme days are a must! Consider “Modern Mondays,” during which all residents wear flowing gauze gowns à la Isadora Duncan, while the staff works from inside Lycra stretch bags. “Frappé Fridays” would feature layered whipped-cream desserts on the daily chocolate buffet. “Tiara Tuesdays” need no elaboration.

Speaking of buffets, all meals will be served in all-you-can-eat style, with desserts served first. Salads must be requested and will not be placed in clear view of the normal population.

Arts and crafts classes where residents can embellish their entire wardrobes with rhinestones and feathers will be available. Special workshops such as “Design Your Own Title Banner” will be offered. This area will also feature a full-service Sequin Bar to facilitate the creation of sparkling headbands, belts, and legwarmers for those whose fashion sense is stuck in the ’70s.

Residents will not be allowed to posses Lycra garments of any kind, especially lime green or leopard print. (There are just some things that Lycra should not be asked to do.) Some residents will require Depends undergarments, and the unsightly lines they create may be objectionable to other residents. Also, no stretch pants, wrap sweaters, hand-knit leg warmers, or thongs of any description will be permitted on the premises.

This no-Lycra policy will also extend to the area in and around the elaborate pool and health spa. Only oversized, full-coverage T-shirts and knee-length shorts will be allowed. All varicosities and surgical scars must be covered, and no dance studio logos may be displayed on clothing on any part of the property.

Free full-body massages with emphasis on the legs and feet will be available daily, no scheduling needed. In fact, using the words “schedule” or “scheduling” is strictly forbidden by anyone at any time, for fear of throwing old studio owners into a regressive panic mode.

There must be a full-service beauty salon with a wide array of wigs, hairpieces, and toupees, plus an army of hair-color specialists. No tipping will be accepted in consideration of the fact that the residents are broke.

To assist with a smooth withdrawal for those who were heavily involved with dance teacher organizations, residents may opt to participate in fake board meetings, conference calls, and grand body meetings, held daily. Membership cards to clubs whose names consist of abbreviations will be issued and members can vote every day or run for imaginary offices whenever they wish. Needy residents can create and implement rules that will affect no one.

As a public service, residents will be allowed to work in the Trophy Recycling Center, where thousands of trophies and medals from overloaded studio windows all over the country can be melted down to make tiaras for deserving students who will never win one on their own.

A special wing of the facility will address the short-term needs of teachers recovering from summer competitions, conventions, and workshops. This area, open only from early August to mid-September, will place teachers in a weeklong coma to allow for full recovery from sleep deprivation. If necessary, teachers will then be weaned off all stimulants, antidepressants, and sleep-aid medications. Liposuction will be included in the package to remove the new unwanted pounds, as well as hypnosis to remove all memory of whining students, pushy parents, and any desire to repeat the process next summer. Financial consultants will then assist in consolidating credit card debt.

During the remainder of the year, this wing will serve as a retreat for the life partners of dance teachers who need a catalog- and sequin-free environment.

Seminars at the retreat will feature topics such as:

  • “How to get hot glue off the kitchen table without ruining the finish”
  • “Why do they call it a recital when no one actually speaks?”
  • “How much music can my computer hold?”
  • “What happened to the numbers 9 and 10? My wife can only count to 8!”

If there are any financial backers out there, feel free to contact my people; however, be forewarned that there will be no monetary return on your investment. Dance teachers are inherently broke, especially in July and August, so we will not be able to pay you at all. In fact, we will all need to be placed on full-talent scholarships for the entire length of our stay. After all, we have handed out innumerable scholarships our entire lives. What goes around comes around, right?

Most of us have worked for ourselves our entire lives, so we have no retirement funds and only the most basic of healthcare provisions. And do not even consider trying to get compensation from our children. Some of them have been turned into dance teachers themselves!

Anyone who owns property with an ocean view and possesses a desire to reward the most deserving professionals on the planet should step up and make this paradise a reality. Leave a message on my machine—I’ll get back to you after recital!

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