We had our annual recital this weekend.
My last recital was last year, so I didn’t dance this weekend, but I did teach my first three classes this year, and I had one class the first night and two classes the second night.
When I first came on as a teacher, I didn’t know if I could do recital. I’ve never choreographed before, how the heck was I gonna do that three times? How was I gonna pick costumes and music and put moves to the music and teach tiny children how to do those moves?
I enlisted the help of friends and tried to get choreographing done before tax season came on so that way I didn’t feel more pressure when spring came. Plus, I wanted my kids to have as much time to learn it as possible to hopefully be able to have it as clean as possible. Granted, this is so much easier when you only have three dances rather than the numerous ones my fellow teachers have.
Honestly, i wasn’t sure i would get a recital out of my 3-4 year old class. It was rough from the first day, having to use much of my time just to keep kids from running around the entire time, using any form of teaching powers I could think of. By second semester, it was starting to progress. The kids were beginning to behave and we were able to actually teach them things and get through an entire class. We were able to give them a recital and actually go through the choreography with them.
I wasn’t sure how they would do on stage. I was sure one would cry the entire time if I could get her out there. There was only one out of seven that I knew for sure would dance, the rest were very hit and miss.
We had a rehearsal on Thursday. At our allotted time, only two of my seven were there. So we ran it once. Then we got one more and ran it our second time. Then two more got there, changed their kids in the wings, and we were able to run it a third time for the other two. I was super grateful because they were the ones I knew would do well with knowing what to expect to get the best results. One of the missing ones was sick Thursday, but thankfully felt fine on Saturday and was able to dance. She was the flipping cute one that everyone in the audience was laughing at the melting of their hearts. My one I thought would cry didn’t, and all of them at least did some of the dance moves, which at this age was more than I could help for. The one I knew would dance did great and did the entire thing. They were a bit difficult to get off the stage, but it worked and they were so adorable.
My 4-5 year old class was before there’s on Saturday. They have been such a dream class all year. The perfect size, everyone so focused, tiny little sponges just soaking up everything. I was able to make the dance a little more complex and know they’d be just fine to do it. What’s more, I had to change it two weeks before show because two dropped which threw off my numbers and the original choreography. But the girls did so great at remembering the change and doing well. This class got the same costume we had used my last recital at my old studio before it shut down. They also got my favorite song. The tutu was purple and turns out so many of them have purple as their favorite color. Winning!
They were all there for rehearsal on Thursday. Day of show, one of them was missing her shoes. Thankfully I knew one of the moms of my tall student from my other class, so we were able to borrow hers and then switch them back before they danced. We were the third dance and when we get on stage, I realize one of the girls was still in the bathroom. The other 6 were on stage, in the dark, while we rushed for the missing one. We got her back, put her on stage in the wrong spot and she gently told me in a whisper, “I stand by Evelyn” which, thank God, because it would have messed up everything had she been in the wrong spot. But she’s so smart and studious.
I’m so proud of this class. They all were so focused all year and worked really hard. I’ll hopefully have some of them next year and some even this summer, which makes me so happy. I love them so much and they show so much promise and hope.
One of them gave me a gift at rehearsal.
When the year began, she was the student that encouraged me the most, just in her deminor. She was so excited to be there and loved me so much and it made my Saturdays something I looked forward to rather than something I dreaded. It made me feel like I could do this, that I wasn’t completely screwing everything up. As the year went on, this whole class made me feel that way. I can’t explain how much this meant to me to have, especially this year with everything that’s happened. It’s more than words can describe.
My 5-6 year olds were my biggest class, which at times I found hard to manage. I was worried maybe I wasn’t as much as I needed to be. That I could be more, do more for them. This class taught me the most about teaching, and creative ways to adjust to the needs of the class.
By the time we got to the last week, I was blown away. Even the one who struggled the most had learned so much. More than I could have hoped. They knew the terminology, they would ask about things way above their level. I’d show them and half of them could do it with impressive technique. The other half was still good.
We started their recital early, and even updated it to give them more complex steps. I kept it relatively simple with the hopes that they would do really well in what they knew rather than trying to make it more difficult and them putzing through it. I was nervous it might seem too simple compared to everyone else’s.
The night of rehearsals, one of the moms came up to me and told me she was blown away by how much her daughter had learn this well and how she knew the entire dance so well and looked so good doing it. I told her she was one of two of my girls that I knew I could always count on to know what to do, even my subs said the same. I told her how talented her daughter is and she thanked me for being such a great teacher.
This really touched my heart. It’s as though everything I was afraid of melted away. That I did well. That these girls learned something.
One of my girls had told me toward the end of the year, “my mommy said I had to do recital and then I don’t have to dance anymore if I don’t want to.” On Friday, she came up to me, extremely excited, and told me, “I want to take ballet again next year!” You could see the change in her. She was understanding and asking great questions and remembering things. It made me so proud.
One of my other babies came up to me day of recital and gave me these
A bunch of the girls colored me pictures, which of course I’ll keep forever. I have pictures kids I babysat drew me that I’ve shown them on their wedding day.
They went on stage and completely rocked it. It brought me so much joy to see them. I could have watched it forever.
Seeing them watching me at times while doing this dance and doing it so freaking well, it’s one of those moments that you just cherish.
Kids are my favorite kind of people. They’re honest. They love without reservation. They’re so trusting and resilient. Getting to be a part of these kids lives, even if just for this one year, it means everything to me. I know I’ll never forget them, I just hope they don’t forget me, or what they’ve learned this year. I hope that spark inside them starts a fire that guides them throughout life.
I wrote them all cards and gave them to them the last day of class, and took pictures with the whole class. I hope they realize how increasingly proud I am of each of them.
That class ending was one of the hardest things, because chances are I won’t teach them again. They’re getting older. I want to keep them safe in this year forever, but I know that’s not realistic. I just hope this year is a good memory for them to reflect on as they grow.
One of my girls moms told me she had something for me and asked where I would be at intermission. I told her I’d be in the rehearsal hall with the girls.
When I got there, she had a James Avery bag that she handed to me. My jaw dropped and I could feel my eyes getting teary, knowing that anything in that bag had to be quite expensive. I opened it to find
This beautiful necklace. The necklace is made to hold charms, and they picked out the heart charm for me as well. I was speechless. I put it on immediately and thanked them profusely. Her mom thanked me for teaching her daughter this year. She told me how much she appreciated me. My eyes tear up at the memory.
After recital, some friends and me went to Macaroni Grill as per usual. I saw her mom and turns out we were seated near them. I went over and said hi and my sweet girls face lit up. Her mom and grandma and dad and aunt were all there, and they told me how much she talks about me and how much she loves me and how much she’s learned. They all thanked me. And I thanked them, because I love this sweet girl so much.
I don’t think I can explain how much these gifts and words have meant to me. The class itself was proof enough to me that the year was successful, but hearing it from the parents and girls was so reassuring.
If you appreciate someone, if someone has taught you something, tell them; show them. It means more than you’ll ever realize. I know, for me, it’s something I’ll carry with me for the rest of me life.
These girls have taught me more than I ever thought I could learn; about teaching, about ballet, about people, about love, about passion. Thinking of them fills me with a warmth I can’t describe. They have ruined me of all future classes because they were all so wonderful this year. I am so grateful.
And honestly, I couldn’t have done it without my assistants. No way, no how. They were at times life lines, especially with getting so sick. I don’t think they know or realize how much they helped me. They have set a high standard for any future assistants I may have, as they have seemed to read my mind and been there before I even knew what I needed.
This year has left me remembering what I love most about ballet. About life. About everything. And I’m so beyond grateful for that.