Through a Teacher’s Eyes…

My nicknames in high school and college were Shannydance, The Dance or sometimes just Dance. The word dance, more specifically ballet, defined me. Dancing was everything. I believed that not dancing was failing.

My dance journey was specific. I realized in high school that I probably would not dance professionally. After some tears and some coaxing from Diana, (yes, THAT Diana) I decided to audition for college dance programs that offered ballet and modern. At the time, I did not value modern the way I do today. I went on numerous auditions and to my surprise, placed higher in the modern programs than the ballet programs. “But I’m a ballerina!” I would say and imagine myself in tutus not modern attire. After auditioning and visiting many colleges, I finally decided on Salve Regina where I majored in English and minored in dance.

Discovering modern was a pivotal moment for me. I realized there was a world beyond ballet and a pretty amazing world, I might add. Modern taught me to let go in a way I never allowed for myself to do in ballet class. My modern teacher still called me “bun head” but by the time my senior Modern thesis rolled around, I think we were all shocked at how “un-ballet” it was. My ballet technique improved as a result and my eyes were opened to a larger dance vocabulary. I saw beyond the tutu. I saw dance in its most organic form. I suddenly viewed dance from a group dynamic and I realized dance could bring people together unlike any other art. The creation of dance was natural and beautiful and dance was to be shared. Dance was not about me. Dance was about all of us. This thought process led me to want to teach.

I am still a ballet dancer. I actually view myself as more of a dancer now than I did in high school. I find the truest joy in watching dancers work through the same frustrations and ultimately triumph as I did. I watch dancers grow in themselves in more than just dance. I consider teaching as the ultimate gift. Not only am I sharing my love of dance with the Starship family, but they are sharing with me their passion and desire to learn. I cannot tell you how excited it makes me to hear, “Shannon!!! I’m going en pointe!” or “Shannon, I got into the Summer Program I auditioned for!”

My teaching philosophy is simple, I want my students to learn something from every one of my classes. I want them to want to work hard and I want them to succeed. I wish for every student to see their value to the class because we all bring something different to the mix. Starship Studio is such a wonderful, unique place. Every student gets individual attention and it shows in the quality of dancing here. I am not sure you all realize how GOOD you are! Sure, there are always things to improve upon, but wherever you are in your journey, please take a moment to reflect on how hard you have worked to get to this point. For me, dancing is still everything. So much can be learned in the classroom that we can apply to life. Thanks for dancing with me!