It’s September 22! And that means not only is it the season premiere of “Parks and Rec” (!), but it’s also the first night of my ballet class at Groove With Me! This year I’m teaching a Thursday evening ballet class for girls, ages 6–8. There are 14 or 15 students enrolled, and I am only familiar with two.
First days at Groove With Me are devoted to creating a list of class expectations and trying on shoes. The students at GWM have the option of borrowing slippers, and after we find a pair that fits, it’s hers for the year (or until she grows again). After every class, we put each dancer’s shoes in her own ziplock bag, and store them all in a drawer.
Note: Even if your little ones come with their own shoes—I highly suggest storing them at the studio. Who knows when one shoe will fall out of a dance bag, or what week the baby sitter will forget to bring the pair—with this method all students have shoes each week. Without fail.
One thing I’m not looking forward to: Putting on a leotard and tights (and a hip-covering skirt) and seeing myself in the mirror. It’s been a looooooong summer, and I seriously doubt all those campfire hamburgers, baseball game sausages, sugary ice pops and summertime fruity beverages have helped my physique. (See photo above.)
I know what you’re thinking: “So throw on a pair of jazz pants and a hoodie and cover up!” But Katy Spreadbury, who has worn the full get-up every class I’ve seen her teach at JUMP, told me something that really resonated with me. (Yes, she’s a young dancer with an amazing bod, but her reasoning is inspiring.) I asked her, “what’s with the leo and tights?” She replied:
It’s part of the process. I have lots of confrontations with kids who don’t have to wear anything in particular for hip hop or tap, but ballet is different. I tell my little ones, “We’re jumping into a time machine, and we have to do what everyone used to do.” We have to honor ballet and how it’s set up. And I lead by example—so I’ll be wearing this stuff for the rest of my life.
Want a wardrobe update? Check out Dance Teacher's May 2011 issue (and stay tuned for May 2012!) for great styles for teachers.