I did it, I'm a teacher! Ok, not officially but for the last two Mondays I've taught a group of 17 people basic ballet. And, not surprisingly, I love it! The group varies so much (from ages 13 to 62) and there are so many different life stories (one girl danced till she was 17, two are cancer survivors), but I feel so honored to have them all in class together. They've really surprised me and have not only picked up on moves really quickly but been really supportive toward me as a teacher - I didn't hide the fact that this was my first time teaching.
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I'm doing, but the goal of the class isn't to have seventeen people emerge as these graceful and perfect ballerinas. Rather I hope to bring some of the beauty of the art into the lives of these people and work with them to show them how to use and celebrate their bodies. The human body is an amazing instrument - I don't know why more people aren't dancing.
While this is clearly a class about the participants, it really is a class about me too. Most of what we've learned is really basic, but to me it feels huge to teach it. I don't normally get nervous before teaching a class (I guess part of me is naturally inclined towards being in front of people) but I got really nervous before our first class last week. Maybe it's because dance was such an important part of my life for a long time. I started dancing when I was 13 and kept going until around age 20, taking seven classes a week at my busiest. Part of me has always regretted my decision to stop training. I was by no means the best, but I tried hard and wanted to learn and put visible heart and emotion into every practice and performance. For years I've wanted to go back but some injuries toward the end of my training convinced me I would never be as good as I once was, and that I was too old to get back into it.
Teaching this class has helped me realize it might be that I'm not technically as good as I was before, but that heart and emotion is still there, and few things give me as much joy as music, an open studio, and some ballet shoes. Perhaps this was what I needed to start stepping out and stop being afraid of what might be and learn to embrace what is.