At age three, my mom brought me to dancing school. Not to make a career of dance, but because I loved to twirl around the living room while my parents listened to the great movie musicals of the 1950s and 60’s on their Hi-Fi. I danced around to the songs of The King and I with Yul Brenner and Debra Kerr, Oklahoma with Gordon Mac Rae and Shirley Jones and South Pacific with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor. Little did she know that in the year 2012 I would still be dancing.
As a child and into my teen years my focus was to dance on Broadway, but always when I was with my best friend we would spend time choreographing dances, from as early age as I can remember. We would dance for our class in elementary school at all the holiday parties and chorus concerts. Dances we would make up ourselves in the basement of her house or mine. The two of us were friends from our first day of dance school at three years old and our parents became friends during our years at elementary school.
We were close friends all through high school. Still attending the same local dance studio besides attending the New Jersey School of Ballet. We would also go to New York City to take class together at the various different professional studios. Her dance focus became stronger and stronger for performing as mine leaned towards teaching and having my own studio. As we approached our senior year in high school and after we graduated, we went to audition after audition in New York City. Together we passed several auditions that were touring companies of Broadway shows. Needless to say our parents gave us a hard time about leaving home. She eventually became a Radio City Music Hall Rockette, and was able to still live home, being only a short bus ride into the city.
While we were in our Junior year of high school, we began studying for our teacher certification exams for Dance Masters of America and Dance Educators of America. Two of the most prestigious dance teacher organizations of the United States. We both passed our exams and after graduating high school, I began teaching at my teachers studios, which now they had three schools. My friend’s mother also found a teaching position open at a local music school who had spare space and wanted to add dance to their list of performing arts. As I dove in head first to this area of dance I grew to love it more and more. Working at all these schools became over whelming and the music school’s dance department began to grow rapidly. I needed to leave my teachers and go on my own at the music school.
After being married at age 22, my husband and I opened our first dance school, T & C Dance Company, in Bloomfield, NJ . I did the teaching and he took care of all the business. He built the props, helped me order costumes and dancewear, and together we set my childhood dream a float. By age 30 and two children later, we opened a second school, ninety miles away from the first one. At the beginning of the 1990s I had a third child and I also began teaching dance ministry at our church. Those dancers were not only learning to dance but also to worship God in dance.
Through all of those teaching years I have found out that the bond between teacher and student can be a tight one. I am still in contact with students from back in those music school dance days and one of my original teachers from when I was 3. I keep in contact with the dance student that bought my New Jersey studios and my other dancers who went off to open their own studios. Those bonds are so important to me. I believe that I would never be as happy as a dancer in New York City as I am as a teacher.
Now, in New York State, I have entered another area of teaching, not as a studio owner but as a hired teacher. I am loving this phase of my dance teaching career as much as my own studio. New bonds are being formed as new dancers are being taught. I am hoping that I will be a memory for them as my teachers were for me.
Last night, I received a gift from a very talented dancer that I am only teaching now 22 months. She is the reason that prompted me to post what I did today. Her gift showed me that I mean something to her. Something that I would never have felt dancing on Broadway. A bond that will hold a vivid memory for the rest of my existence. I don’t know if she will ever understand exactly how much her gift means to me. I just hope that the time I am able to spend with her will mean as much to her when I am just a memory. I hope that she will carry a piece of me into her adult life as she has carved into mine.
Looking back at my life as a dancer, I believe that I chose the right path in the dance profession. The chance to make a difference in someone’s life. The height of my extensions are not what they used to be nor is my balance but teaching dance instead of performing dance is much more rewarding…leaving a part of me in all my dancers….. I wouldn’t have it any other way.