Paying my dues


So I’ve been in the midst of grief but I’m not ready to write it out yet. Everything is still raw. In case you were wondering why I’ve been quiet, there you go. 

Thankfully, I have a list of other things I wanted to tell you about so, for now, I’ll hop on over to those. When I’m ready to open up about my loss, you’ll know. 🙂

Shifting gears…

I was thinking about how annoyed I get with starting at the bottom. It’s not a pride issue because I’ll be the first to admit when I’m clueless or I need help. No, this is more of a “paying dues” issue.

Let me explain:

I’ve been teaching dance for 22 years. It’s weird to say, given that I’m 37, but it’s how the dance world works. When a student starts hitting high school age, teachers begin to realize who is serious about their dance future & who is just a “rec kid (recreational)” or “comp kid (competition).”

In my experience, students fall into 1 of 3 categories:
1) Recreational
2) Professional
3) Teaching


These are the kids that are doing it because Mom always wanted to be a ballerina or because their best friend told them to do so they could have a Senior Duet or whatever else. Their hearts aren’t usually into it & you can tell. They’re doing the bare minimum to get by & to stay with the group but you know once the year is done, they’re out. At best, these are the B- type of students. Usually, they’re more like C students.


These are the ones that are serious about their goals. They take class whenever it’s offered, do the work at home, & sign up for all intensives. They go through leotards & tights like tissues. They never complain, dripping with sweat, with hair perfectly in place. They’re highly respectful & take correction seriously. They have the drive to go all the way & know there’s a maybe 10% chance they’ll make it. These are rare. A lot of parents think their little angel is in this category. Um no. A good teacher will see these seeds start to grow stars & guide them to the right areas to cultivate & nourish them. These are the A+, valedictorian types of students.


These are more common than professional but they don’t have the long-term goals of their counterparts. Some of these students choose to teach because of injuries, desire, or to stay close to home or their studio. In my case, I knew I couldn’t make it professionally. I’m a realist. My teacher told me when I was younger I would make a great instructor. Another teacher started to work on my skills harder once she saw that’s what I wanted to do. These students show up, do the work, & want to learn more. They know their limitations & make their peace with it. They will offer to help others in any way they can – cleaning the studio, lining up the youngest students, staying after to help a friend with her shoes. These are the A- students.

Like I said, this is my 22nd year of teaching. I know my shit. I know what I’m good at (tap) & where I’m weak (ballet). I know what group I excel with (middle schoolers & high schoolers) & which ones irritate me (youngest or “babies” & adults). I’ve taught every level & just about every type of dance.

I also know when you start at a new studio, it’s common to start at the bottom & then work your way up. It makes sense. Unless you come highly recommended with an impressive portfolio, nobody knows who the fuck you are. I wouldn’t trust them either.

My issue with all of that is that I’m consistently “stuck” with some group I don’t want. “You’re good with them!” Yeah, just because I know how to do it doesn’t mean I want to.

This week was the last week of classes. No recital on Saturday because of COVID-19 so I’m done until the fall (I’m honestly not sure if I’m doing summer classes or not, given the state of the world). I taught 6 classes: 3 – I’m good with, 1 – I’ll work with but not really my jam, 2 – I’m over it.

I’m trying to be grateful for the classes I get. I’ll be going into the 3rd year with Job #2 so I feel like I’ve paid my dues. I’ve proven myself as a competent teacher. In fact, I’m spearheading their tap department.

So why do I keep getting these shitty classes?

Okay, so that’s unfair. They’re not shitty. I’ve had shitty classes. These just aren’t my style. There’s only so much I can do with 4-year-olds before I want to scream.

And it’s not like I’m the only one. At my studio, we currently have 2-3 “new” teachers who need experience & oversight. These are the students I was mentioning earlier that fall into the teaching category.

Ugh. I need a break from it.

I know, I know. I’m done & I’ve got my break for the next 3ish months. I need to seal the deal with my boss so that she doesn’t give me this age group again. I’ve offered before to be the newer & younger teachers’ “supervisor” (so to speak) so that she doesn’t have to deal with it. Saves her time, headache, & she knows I’ll do what she wants. Maybe I should offer it again…

Is that terrible? Hmm… Not sure…

Do I care enough to stay quiet? Nope. I’m gonna send her an email.


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