Ups and downs, lefts, rights and the other lefts. All of this is part of the learning and teaching process. The best instructors gain the greatest joy, but also may face the greatest frustration. This is a simple letter of encouragement that could be from “any” student to “any” instructor to let instructors know that your efforts are not in vain.
My Dear Instructor,
I know that you want me to excel in my dancing in ways that I never dreamed possible. I know that you put deep thought, passion and energy into our lessons. I also know that as much as I believe that you enjoy teaching me, there are times when I challenge you, frustrate you, and generally make you feel like you are losing your mind! So… I thought I should explain a few things, to help you understand what is going on with me during the times when your eyes start to bulge out of their sockets.
- The time I kicked you in your manhood during that sharp developé in Foxtrot, after you had corrected my alignment eleven times… I was really really, really, really, sorry. But look at me now! That experience helped me to actually remember the right alignment. I look back at that day and that moment with such warm appreciation now. Don’t you?
- When I ask you to take a step out of my choreography and slow things down two days before a competition, you should feel proud! Yes, I probably do mess up that step, but the real reason I want the change and a slow down is because you inspired and taught me musicality so very well. Prolonging the previous step for three beats will be superb because it creates drama. Yes that’s right drama. I am not avoiding anything. I just like dramatic tension in dancing.
- When you ask me if I practiced and I say “Yes”, but then you look at me after the first round like you don’t believe that I did, you need to understand, that in my mind there are several types of practice. I sometimes practice by running through the routines in my head. I know that you think that doesn’t count, but I guarantee that it helps… maybe not in the immediate and obvious way that physically practicing helps, but it helps. Really… It just takes a bit longer for the amazing improvement to show, but then you will be so wonderfully surprised at how much I improve. Really…
- On the point of my delayed awesomeness, I think it is so wonderful that you can calmly repeat same things 10 or 20 times in different ways, showing it at different angles, and adding humor in between your tears. I am so glad you understand that the process is like cutting down a tree, or applying thin layers of water color. It takes patience, but then all of a sudden …BAM!… The awesomeness of my technique will truly amaze you. Just keep it up. One day you will be sooooo happy!!!
- When I am at a big competition and I change from being generally easy going, to …well…. something like that Alien thing in the movie “Prometheus”, and perhaps I move on the floor like one of those Autobots in Transformers, just remember it is not you! I just didn’t listen to anything you said about managing stress because I was too stressed to listen. That is pretty much all I can say… Just… Remember it is not you. It is just the way it is. The real me will always be back in time for the after party.
- And yes, sometimes when you ask me if I practiced, I do have to say no, because I did not even practice in my head. It does not mean that I am not committed. In fact, I took a clip of your voice screaming “Stretch!!” from one of our practice videos, and have it as the ringtone on my phone. That’s how dedicated I am.
- Just because I’m writing these particular points does not mean I don’t, also, remember the great fun we have and wonderful accomplishments we’ve achieved in our lessons. I just want you to know, that even at times you do things, like change my choreography to make it more challenging, and then I tell you that ” You are insane!” and that “There is NO WAY that I can do that!”, that is truly what I am thinking at the time, but I actually love and appreciate that you push me, since it says that you have confidence in me. And that means a lot. Thank you.