Now i'm not writing this blog to make you go and hug your dance teacher and give him/her a box of flowers. I'm just asking that the next time you catch yourself thinking that life as a dance teacher, often only working a few hours in the afternoon would be pretty grand... think again!
Scrolls through hours upon hours of music choices to find the one that suits you or your child. These songs don't just 'appear' in itunes. Dance teachers could spend hours each night listening to hundreds of pieces of different music just to find that winning 3min number.
They found the song but it's 5min not 3min so it needs to be edited. If you yourself haven't yet tried to cut music to make it sound like the song was actually recorded like that... don't! It's pain staking and tricky and could take HOURS.
Costumes - Coming up with 1 is easy but imagine trying to come up with hundreds of different costumes over the life of a teacher. Making sure Laura's solo costume doesn't look like Sarahs jazz solo costume and isn't the same colour as Suzies... That's hard work and one could get LOST on the internet (or at a Dancers Market) searching for inspiration or the perfect fit costume/s.
They miss dinner with their family... ALOT! Remember those work hours from 3pm - 8pm that we thought would be a nice change from the regular 9am - 5pm. Well most teachers with families rarely get a chance to sit at the dinner table and enjoy family dinner. They eat on the run or they fail to eat at all. Take away coffee gets cold and dinner is always reheated. Some nights kids may already even be in bed before mum or dad get home.
Clever choreography, creative patterning and artistic direction is more often than not well planned, lounge room rehearsed and written in detailed notes hours/days or weeks before the dancer has even heard the music. Similar to costumes, choreography is a job in itself. Making sure that spacing will work, that choreography is current, creative and challenging for the dancer isn't something most teachers will leave until class, most like to come prepared with the ideas, the visions and the choreography ready to go. Choreography is not a carbon copy that comes gifted to a teacher through text books and resources it's a product of their own creativity and hard work.
They worry, they stress and they don't sleep - Just like you! The night before a competition, an exam, a concert or a show, dance teachers are often wide awake just like you are. They are hoping that you remember all of the steps, all of the corrections, and that you walk away feeling as though you have done a great job. No dance teacher wants you to fail, they want you to be amazing.
They push through the pain of injury and old age ;). Who has time for the knee replacement that they so desperately need when exams are on in 2 months. Nights of restless legs and aching feet, the type of pain that really could only be fixed if one could employ a masseur 5 nights a week.
They often put their studio family ahead of their own family. Dance teachers kids often don't get a choice, Suzie wanted to do netball at 4pm on Mondays this year, but Suzie doesn't have a choice because mum is at dancing and dad is still at work... so Suzie is at dancing with Mum... EVERY DAY!
They want every one of their kids to succeed. They may yell and scream, but they do it with the best of intentions. They challenge and encourage your kids to be the very best version of themselves every single day. They want to see kids rewarded for the hard work and dedication that they put in at the studio, they want their kicks higher and their splits flatter so that the dancer feels as though the hard work is paying off.
They admire each dance mum, dance dad and dance family member that is part of their community. They know the dedication that needs to be shown to continually get kids to class ontime. They know that when a younger sibling is sick and somebody still manages to get Suzie to class ontime with her hair in a perfect bun that life would have been pretty tough that day. They are thankful, they may not say thanks enough but they are. Thankful for choosing their studio, thankful that you have trusted them to guide and enrich the life of your child. They genuinely love teaching and if they didn't/don't chances are that you would have already pulled your child out of that studio and found them a teacher who loves what they do and loves dance enough to make your child love it too.