By Dale Pope
Teacher: To show (someone) the way; to guide, conduct; To pass on knowledge, especially as one’s profession;. There are many definitions, quotes and names for the ‘teacher’. Mentor, coach, role model, hero, idol……. It’s quite a list to live up to and sometimes in the role as a teacher I don’t feel worthy of the worship that pours out of the eyes of an eager young dancer desperate to follow my every word and move.
There are extraordinary rewards from teaching, and I’m biased, especially from teaching dance. It only takes one face in a room of 30 to inspire me to give everything. And give everything we do. We not only create movement, instruct on technique, prepare for exams, improve performance qualities but we also design costumes, give career advice, balance the psychological needs of the student versus their parent, mentor the Year 10 dancer about to give up dancing, and so on. It can be exhausting, and so I ask, who inspires you? Who coaches you? Who is your role model for teaching? And do you need inspiration?
I say we all need inspiration not matter what line of work. However, dance teachers are unique. We give physically, mentally and emotionally and still we start every hour with a fresh and smiling face as if it’s our first hour too. But sometimes the well can feel pretty empty. That’s when I know I’m in need of inspiration. How? Sometimes I have the energy to attend another dance teachers class, usually at Sydney Dance Company where they house some of my favourites like Jason Winters (such a beautiful way of explaining things), Dean Walsh (a fascinating mixture of anatomical brilliance and spiritual undertones), and Sarah Boulter (it’s like falling into a vat of indulgent cream). Those are just a few. But sometimes there’s no energy left to even do that. And so I would like to recommend some simple tips on finding inspiration:
• Book a private yoga or pilates session and have someone teach you! AND you don’t have to be good at it.
• Book a private Tango lesson – that was the most inspirational gift I gave to myself two years ago – their passion and reason for dancing not only inspired me but changed the way I taught.
• Go online and look up inspirational speakers/quotes – one that gets me going is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY – Sir Ken Robinson discusses children’s creativity.
• Get creative – one of the most important parts of our lives is to be creative and enjoy what we make. Create a sequence that is dancing for the pure joy of it, not for technique or performance. Just because you love the music!
• Sometimes going for a walk in Mother Nature before teaching works a gem for me. Grounds me and reminds me there are bigger things at play.
• And if you do find that energy – get to class with a teacher who truly gets you excited. Learn from their dialogue, their class structure, their passion.
Teaching is a calling not a bread and butter job. Your students see through that immediately and so we have no option but to pour out everything creative via the natural teaching skills we came into this life time with. Every class, you are an inspiration. So do find the time to be inspired yourself.
INSPIRE THE TEACHER
By Dale Pope