My Turn!

I started dancing at Dance Workshop thirty-five years ago, started teaching twenty years ago, and took ownership of the Randolph studio fifteen years ago. Through the years I have welcomed thousands of children as they timidly attended their first class, and helped them through their amazing journey toward their first steps onto that big, bright, scary but oh-so-special recital stage!

These moments are so incredible heart warming to think about. In fact I’m tearing up a bit just writing this. But as I think about “My Turn” I tear up A LOT.

I’m not referring to my first recital. Sure, that was quite an emotional day for me, but this time I’m talking about My Turn.

It’s My Turn to see my own little girl take that stage, with her tiny purple [pronounced "poy-pull"] tutu, and her little tan tap shoes that she has tried on countless times at home to jump around the kitchen, and her perfect little bun (dance teachers have quite a bit of “bun-doing” experience).

It’s My Turn to sit nervously in the auditorium wondering if my little girl is going to be out their jumping happily and twirling beautifully, or if she will freeze up nervously or run off stage crying (to the first time dance moms reading this – if it happens to you, trust me it’s very normal. Your timid little dancer will probably end up stealing the show with a solo number in a few years!)

It’s My Turn to buy someone else flowers and a little teddy bear commemorating her inaugural dance recital.

It’s My Turn to hear little not-quite-sentences about “my recital” every day from April Fools Day to July 4th.

It’s My Turn to convince her older brothers that they should come to the recital and sit quietly in the auditorium to support their sister, even if it means wearing a shirt with buttons on it for two hours.

It’s My Turn to watch my little girl watch the older dancers as she gazes up at them in amazement for the art form they have embraced, wondering when she will do those perfectly executed ballet moves with such elegant grace and impressive technique (not her words exactly but I swear that’s what she’s thinking!)

It’s My Turn to feel the way many of my customers (I hate that word, so let’s just go with “dance parents”) have felt when I helped their little girl through year one of dance, and I now know how special that really is.

It’s My Turn, and I LOVE IT!

skylar dance recital

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Princess Dance Week 2011

I had the pleasure of teaching Princess Dance Week in our Randolph studio from 9 to 11:30 every day last week. With 8 kids, all very quiet for the first hour of day 1, I wondered how I would get through such time. I had the whole week’s activities planned out but at 10am on day 1, I threw away my plans, put the girls in a circle, and asked them what they liked and wanted to learn. From that moment on time flew by with a studio full of joy, smiles and laughter.

In addition to teaching dance, I brought Barbies for the girls and we had a dolly dance party – something I never would have thought of had I not had conversations with the girls. And of course it wouldn’t be “Princess Week” without make-up, so I taught them about lip stick and eye shadow and we played dress up. We had “Show and Tell”, played with the toys they wanted to bring from home, and listened to CD’s they brought in. Games, sing-a-longs, arts, crafts, and of course dancing! Adding these “electives” to the week was beneficial for all of us. It helped us truly enjoy dance class and build community within the studio, which is something that Dance Workshop has emphasized for more than 35 years.

I guess that the most important thing I’m trying to convey in this blog is this: As an instructor, dance class is much more than just dance education. We are responsible for creating a positive environment for the kids to learn and develop as dancers, and we bond with them inside it to surround them with a positive influence. It should be an environment that is social, open, polite and respectful.

I am happy to let parents know through this blog that dance teachers are an extra set of eyes for your children. We are protective of them as if they are ours. We listen to them, and guide them with you, because it’s a beautiful and rewarding experience to have a positive impact on a young child’s life.

One of the most memorable moments for me was when a sweet little princess opened her lunch box and inside was a picture of her mom with the words “I love you” written across. Her mother had put that there for her. I was so touched by it, because loving and kind children absolutely come from loving and kind parents. It is truly a pleasure to work with children AND their families. Thank you, to those of you who share your children with us – you made my summer!
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Randolph Mini Dance Company

In the Randolph dance studio, we just had a practice for an upcoming Company performance that will take place at an assisted living center. For those who don’t know, the Junior and Senior Companies are made up dancers who are so passionate and dedicated that they put in extra time and effort to represent Dance Workshop in various public performances. And this year we’ve added a “Mini Company” for an even younger group of dedicated dancers.

After I saw them rehearse, I could tell the Mini Company dancers had learned a lot this year and worked really hard on these routines. The more experienced Junior Company dancers, who will be performing with the Minis, were obviously proud of them too – they were cheering the Minis on! We are so lucky to have such amazing students and instructors at Dance Workshop. It’s so emotional and makes me very proud to see the results of the hard work and creativity that goes into these dances. I’m looking forward to the show and hope that the residents at the assisted living center will enjoy the performance as much as I did!

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First Dance Classes

A three-year-old boy came in to dance class last week with his grandmother. She explained that while they had prepaid for the year, the boy did not want to come to dance class anymore. Of course it’s not uncommon for a three-year-old to need a bit of time and encouragement when beginning his first season of dance classes. I encouraged him to try one more class, and then if he still didn’t like it we’d discuss the money they had prepaid.

He walked in and joined the class, I let him sit and watch the class until he felt comfortable to join in. Then when he was ready to try a few moves, I made sure to point out what he did well and continued to encourage him. Five minutes later he was laughing and smiling – moving his toddler body just like so many excellent dancers do when they join their first dance classes. We talk about the confidence dancing instills in children, and this little guy took a big step in that direction already.

Do you have a young child in the Easton or Randolph area? If so, we would like your child to have this opportunity without any commitment, and we still have a few spots left in some of our classes. Just register for dance before January 31st, 2011 and mention this blog – your first month will be completely free!

A three-year-old boy came in to dance class last week with his grandmother. She explained that while they had prepaid for the year, the boy did not want to come to dance class anymore. Of course it’s not uncommon for a three-year-old to need a bit of time and encouragement when beginning his first season of dance classes. I encouraged him to try one more class, and then if he still didn’t like it we’d discuss the money they had prepaid.

He walked in and joined the class, I let him sit and watch the class until he felt comfortable to join in. Then when he was ready to try a few moves, I made sure to point out what he did well and continued to encourage him. Five minutes later he was laughing and smiling – moving his toddler body just like so many excellent dancers do when they join their first dance classes. We talk about the confidence dancing instills in children, and this little guy took a big step in that direction already.

Do you have a young child in the Easton or Randolph area? If so, we would like your child to have this opportunity without any commitment, and we still have a few spots left in some of our classes. Just register for dance before February 28, 2011 and mention this blog – your first month will be completely free!

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The Dance Workshop Family

Our first month of this season has come to an end. Like Miss Jenn and Miss Jillian I love the hugs, kisses and happy, smiling faces on our students. But the best part for me is the camaraderie between the students, the parents, the instructors and the two studios. 

I was in the Randolph studio this week teaching the adult jazz class, a class that has been together for over 25 years! The class ended and we were walking out to our cars when my mom came to the door.  All the women in the class ran over to hug and kiss her, and then they proceeded to run out to my parents’ car and kiss my dad.  I just stood there watching this whole scene thinking to myself, “Wow, this is the coolest thing!”  I always thought Dance Workshop was unique and we were like one big extended family, and this just proved it. 

The Randolph studio was our first studio and since the early years we always said, “you never leave Dance Workshop.” Our former students come back to teach, dance, bring their children or just come in to hang out. All of our instructors come from within the studio, and most grew up there.  Along with an offsite intensive training course, our instructors learn how to teach from their mentors here at the studio. Thanks to Miss Jenn, the Randolph studio has maintained the same camaraderie with the newer students.

The Easton studio has been in existence for 19 years – time does fly! It seems like yesterday we opened in the Easton Market Place. We recently moved to the North Easton Village Shoppes and we are all so excited to have a new state of the art dance studio. The parents and students love it and it is in a great location with lots of parking and shopping. Both studios are producing great dancers and instructors, continuing to grow Dance Workshop’s community as one big family. Thanks to all of you who help make it so special!

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Back to Dance

As another summer comes to a close, the start of another dance season is upon us. I’ll admit I was a little hesitant for the summer to end, but that all changed as soon as I arrived in the brand new Easton Dance Workshop for my first class. As the kids started to come to dance, with big smiles on their faces, I couldn’t help but smile and think “It’s good to be back.”

Nothing brings me more joy than seeing how my students progress from year to year. Some of them I have been teaching dance to for many years. As the second class came in, I overheard them talking in excitement how this was their 5th or 10th year at dance and how eager they were to get their trophies. I have taught many of them since they were little, and have watched them all grow up into beautiful young dancers. Knowing that they love dance enough to continue for 5 and 10 years really gives me a great feeling.

As I drove to the studio the next morning, I couldn’t help but get excited to see my classes and the students that I taught last year who I knew were returning this year. As one girl walked in, she ran over and told me how excited she was to be back in dance class. How lucky am I to have a job that I not only love, but I know brings as much joy to the kids as it brings to me. The best part about our dance studio is that the kids are there to yes, learn to dance, but also to have fun. This is my 11th year teaching dance, and I hope to continue teaching for a very long time.

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I LOVE TEACHING DANCE!

So another dance season is here, and something magical happened to me during open house registration at the Randolph studio. As I sat waiting for the next parent to come in and register their child for dance class, lots of other things were also going through my head… What should I make for dinner tomorrow? How is the babysitter doing with my two year old? Will the realtor call with good news about the people who came to see our condo today? And then a bright-eyed 7 year old girl who I’ve been teaching since she was 3 years old ran into the studio yelling, “Hi Miss Jenn!”. She jumped into my arms and hugged me tight, and in an instant I was reminded about why I LOVE TEACHING DANCE!

It was then that I decided to start sharing my thoughts and experiences on this blog, because if I love this so much there must be people out there who would enjoy hearing all about it. I won’t bore you with every single hug, or detail every Jazz class I teach, but on occasion I’ll write something about the joys of teaching dance. And sometimes I’ll invite my teachers and students to write something about their experiences too. Please bookmark my blog and feel free to comment about anything you read here, cause the conversation will be best if you join in and I hope you will!

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