February 2015 | On My Mind


Words from the publisher

Being a school owner requires a certain amount of resilience and optimism. Being optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the tough stuff; it means focusing on what’s good as much as possible.

It’s not always easy. For example, at this time of year, the start of the recital and competition season, thousands of costumes are on their way to dance schools across the country. If yours is one of them, you’ll have to sort and fit the costumes, and of course there will be problems—wrong sizes, crushed headpieces—and there will be returns and exchanges, paperwork and phone calls. And headaches—don’t forget the headaches.

Photo by Mim Adkins

Photo by Mim Adkins

Then there’s the choreography—creating it, not to mention polishing it. It’ll be tough because some kids will be missing from class, which means that next week you’ll have to go over what everyone else learned this week. You’ll probably see some eye rolling from the kids who already know the steps, and I can promise that you’ll run into a parent or two who just can’t understand why you do it the way you do.

Some of those competition weekends are going to stir up emotions. Parents will think you are awesome when your students win, and they’ll say so—and they’ll stay quiet or complain when their kids don’t get the awards they expected. And you might find yourself questioning your abilities more than once during the season.

Then there’s the year-end show. Get ready, because the backdrop you ordered is going to be late or a fire alarm will go off during the dress rehearsal. You know at least one piece of music will cut out during a performance.

OK, OK, OK. Remember, 389 of those 400 costumes were fine, and everyone thought that headpiece you created was a nice touch. Creating the choreography was hard, but the audiences loved it. Parents were proud of their children, and you ended up beaming with pride. And at all those competitions, you learned something, and your students learned, and the parents were appreciative. And all those emotions seem like nothing now.

Look around you: kids are smiling. Parents tell you they love watching their preschoolers feel like princesses. That student who trained with you for 15 years is now on Broadway, and you’ve got some new, talented dancers to nurture.

Look around, and take stock of what you have. Make it a choice to notice this cool life you have created for yourself. Don’t worry—it gets easier with practice.

DSL publisher Rhee Gold has owned a dance competition, presided over national dance teaching organizations, and founded Project Motivate. His book, The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance, is in its second printing.