From a Teacher’s Perspective….

Diana Harris

I would not talk. I would not look at people. I would hide behind my mother. I would never volunteer answers in class, but if you put me in a dance studio, I would fight my way to the front and I would dance, and if you put me on a stage, I would perform…

I am not sure how my life might have turned out had my mother not registered me for dance classes when I was 3 years old. She knew I was too attached to her and needed to find a way “out of my shell”.  She registered me, and I danced, and I crawled out of that shell, and now I cannot seem to stop expressing who I am on so many levels.

My students laugh when I tell this story, and I am quite certain it is because they cannot imagine me being silent for any length of time. They cannot imagine me withdrawing from a conversation if I disagree with what is being said, and they cannot imagine a time when I was not willing to “put myself out there”.

Dance has been my voice and my confidence builder since I began classes at 3. I danced competitively for 15 years. I have studied ballet, jazz, tap and modern. I took a break in 7th grade so I couldDiana4 see what it was like to be a “normal kid” who did not have to always be in class or rehearsal , and I found I did not like my life very much without dance.

I have had my moments….times when I felt I would never get any better, times when I did not get parts that I wanted, times when I was told my choreography was boring and lacked any artistic merit.

But then, I had other moments, too…times when I heard a teacher talk about how all dancers hit a slump during adolescence and it was normal, times when my parents pushed me to try again, and a time when a director believed in me, took a chance on me, and asked me to choreograph my first musical, Anything Goes, as a senior in high school.

I began college as a dance therapy major and was positive I would follow that career path. My professors encouraged me to explore dance education because they realized something about me that I had yet to see – dance education is where I belong. Since then I have pursued a master’s degree in Exercise Science and have combined my degrees to teach dancers how to be healthy.

I have had the opportunity to teach dancers in the studio; reach out to students, who might never have even tried dance, through my outreach programs; and to create dancers out of people who simply thought they were going to have to sing when they auditioned for a musical. I have been blessed with the opportunities to watch all of my students become dancers, watch some of them move on to pursue careers in dance like performing and teaching, and to get to play a role in their lives for a short period of time.

Dance helped me find my voice, and everyone deserves the opportunity to see how dance can become that voice, if even for a brief moment in time, so I became a dance educator.