Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holly Learns a Lesson

Life takes interesting turns. I am still actively searching for a position in public relations, and my calendar of resume submissions is as filled in as ever, but I am also dancing again. Not just dancing, teaching, too.

I’m a dance teacher. A PR-trained, mass comm. major, economics studying dance teacher, and I love it.

The last time I taught dance was in high school when I worked for the local community center. I taught during the summer. My classes were pre-ballet and jazz combo for fours, fives and sixes. I was a kid, but I ran those classes like I remembered my teachers ran theirs. The Miss Danas and Miss Frans in their black tights and leotards, toting huge CD cases and books of stickers for after class. My girls learned to passé like flamingos and stretch like cats; we stomped like elephants and galloped like ponies. I had as much fun teaching ballet as I did learning it, and my girls were so excited to dance each week.

That kind of excitement is easy to forget. Between applying to and being accepted by colleges and planning a move across the country, I began to forget about dance. Even as I auditioned for student dance teams and later cofounded my own, I forgot dance. I forgot about the excitement kids have when they put on their pink shoes, and I forgot the excitement I had when I stepped out on stage. Sure, I still performed, and I even taught steps to some of my peers on our team, but it became as much work as the paper due at the end of the semester.

By the time I graduated and began looking for a career, I had forgotten dance altogether. My days were counted by getting through them, and every interview another checkmark on my calendar. I didn’t look forward to the Tuesday nights that used to be devoted to Pointe, or the Thursdays reserved for Hip-Hop with Mr. Josh. My dance bag, the same bag I used since I was four, had finally been retired to the back of my closet.

And then my former teacher Dana called me. I had stopped in after going to the gym to check in about summer classes, and I mentioned that I would be available to sub should she need someone. I never expected her to call with an opening, let alone three. A nearby nursery school was looking for a dance teacher for their twos, threes and fours, and if I was okay with it, Dana would give them my info. Okay, I said, I’ll give the school a call.

And now I am teaching dance.

I am not sure what I expected when I walked in for an introduction, but it wasn’t to be greeted by fifteen excited little girls who hadn’t had dance in months. Oh, they’re just so happy to dance again! the staff explained. Oh, I replied, a little wary. I wasn’t sure of their expectations of me—could I even teach girls so young? Could I teach dance at all anymore?

But it’s amazing how muscle memory returns, how quickly your body remembers how to move and how easy it is to fall into the same routines you did for a dozen years. Once more we were plié-ing and relevéing and twirling like princess-fairy-ballerinas (their words, not mine). I remembered dance, and I remembered how happy it makes me.

I know I am still young, and there are so many lessons left for me to learn, but this one is a big one. It is hard to admit when you are unhappy, and I was unhappy for months as I searched for work. I think that unhappiness sprung from feeling so useless, like I couldn’t contribute because I didn’t have a job in my field. If I couldn’t get that first foothold, what life could I possibly make for myself?

I still don’t have a job in PR, but I am not useless. Every week I teach dance and every week those little girls are so excited to dress up and learn something new. That’s something important. I am still looking for a career, and I am still applying for PR positions, but I can be happier about it now. If I can be this excited about dance again after 8 years, I can be excited for finding a career, too.

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