EditorSpeak | Cutting Through the Chatter

Photo by Mim Adkins

“OK, OK. I get it! I like that you guys like each other, but can you please stop talking?”

I was teaching my last musical theater class of the night—or trying to. Every time I paused—to reset the music, answer an individual question, take a breath, or even to think—two dozen voices created a tsunami of happy chirping not unlike that of the amphibious “peepers” that hatch in the pond behind my house each spring.

Of course their chatter is annoying. Time wasting. Even rude, some might say. But these are our studio’s top competition dancers who spend 15-plus hours a week together in class and rehearsal, and still can’t seem to get enough of each other’s company.

Like all adolescents, they sometimes come to class with moods and excuses and attitude. But that’s just for me—not for each other. Some of these kids have danced together since age 3, and I can’t remember a single cross word passing between any of them (the set of three sisters excepted—LOL). They go to see each other in school plays or pageants and ask each other to the prom. Last week, one dancer left the studio carrying a birthday cake baked for her by another.

I thought of this recently when I read an article (“Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”) in The Atlantic by psychologist and author Jean M. Twenge, who reports that today’s teens don’t hang out with friends the way previous generations did at the mall or the roller rink. For all their technological connectedness, kids today feel left out and lonely.

The community of a dance team (or performance company) can counteract this iPhone plague. Moving, learning, winning and losing, sharing experiences side-by-side—and yes, even misbehaving together and getting yelled at together—is the stuff of which lifelong friendships are made.

“I like that you like each other . . .” All dance teachers should have such a problem. —Karen White


DSL editor in chief Karen White, a former newspaper reporter and freelance writer, has taught dance in private studios and choreographed musicals since age 17 and has no plans to stop.