Listening to silence, you hear so much

I have been teaching dance for the past year for two programs in West Michigan. Aside from dance technique, I place heavy significance on self motivation and hard work towards both short term and long term goals. I often find myself becoming frustrated with students who don’t make consistent effort in weekly classes and show a disinterest in dance. It is hard for me to not become personally offended because dance is such a deep passion of mine.
This past week, I taught many students who approached class discouraged, unmotivated, and fearful of dance. Rather than feeling my typical reaction to their energy, I felt determined to show them how welcoming dance would be. I would enter each class very observant, and my eyes consistently were drawn to the quiet, reserved student in the corner of the room who had yet to introduce themselves to a new friend from our group. I approached them with a smile, hug and a tickle and immediately made it my mission to encourage them to become involved in the class. Every time, whether it took five minutes or two hours, I saw the students transform in front of my eyes through the motivation of movement.
Sure, they learned how to chassé and leap, but what I was focused on was their increased socialization with their peers and me, expressive facial expressions, and positive energy that supported their movement quality. It was impossible to not notice the difference the classes had on these naturally shy students. By the end of the day, they were much more confident, outgoing, experimental, and expressive than they were at the start of our classes.
This was by far the most fulfilling experience of the trip for me. I was so proud to see these kids passionately approach dance, which is meant to be an inclusive art form that generates a sense of community. I want to continue to bring that into my classes as I teach back home and into my own dance practice. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in obsessing over technique, auditions, casting, etc., but it’s important to remember why I am passionate about dance…this trip was an amazing reminder.

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  • Amazing blog post Carla!! My favorite part: “Sure, they learned how to chassé and leap, but what I was focused on was their increased socialization with their peers and me, expressive facial expressions, and positive energy that supported their movement quality. It was impossible to not notice the difference the classes had on these naturally shy students. By the end of the day, they were much more confident, outgoing, experimental, and expressive than they were at the start of our classes.”

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