I have 80 kids. Okay, you caught me, I don’t literally have 80 kids, but I feel like I do. I may not be their mother, but as their dance teacher, I often refer to my students as “my kids,” and I honestly love them as if they were my own flesh and blood. But, at the end of next week, these kids won’t be mine anymore because I will no longer be their dance teacher. The dance season will come to an end after our final recital and my kids will hurry off for summer break, dreaming of which classes they will take, which songs they will perform to, or which costumes they will wear next season. I’ve been a dance teacher for almost ten years now, so I am pretty used to this routine. Heck, I am often more excited for summer break than the kids by this point. With all the stress of costumes, choreography and the recital, I usually can’t wait for the final curtain call so I can go home to bed!
This year is different though. This year is bittersweet, because I am leaving a dance school that I personally grew up dancing with and have had the honour to teach for over the last two years. Though I have developed similar bonds with all of the students and studios I have taught for in the past, this studio is the one I have always and will always call home.
Furthermore, this move symbolizes a change in direction for me. I have taught and choreographed for various dance studios over the last seven years as I pursued both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I have always had a pretty full schedule, with most of my weeknights and almost all weekends full of dance classes, choreography rehearsals, competitions and recitals. Next September, as I begin my PhD, I have decided to take a step back from this craziness. I am hoping to teach maybe 1 or 2 nights a week, but I do not plan on filling my plate with all the classes and choreography I can get my hands on as per usual. Instead, I hope to concentrate on school (for once), so that I may see what life without dance 24/7 might be like. I had never intended to make a career out of teaching dance, and while this has become my main source of income over the last few years, I have to dedicate my time and focus to pursuing my academic interests.
But I love teaching dance. I love my students; my kids. I love watching them grow as dancers and individuals, I love helping them train their bodies and mould their muscles, and I love creating meaningful works of art for them to interpret. I spend a minimum of 45 minutes a week with each of my kids and sometimes upwards of two hours a night. We work through intricate jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical or musical theatre choreography and I yell at them to point their toes, stretch their knees, reach through their arms, etc.. They divulge some of their deepest secrets to me – like who’s birthday they did or did not get invited to this week, or which boy they kissed at recess. Actually though, some of the philosophical discussions we get into are comparable to the questions I’ve explored in my grad school seminars, like how social media is influencing our perception of self, or “who is society, really?” These kids regularly challenge me to not only be a better teacher, but to be a better person. I am so grateful for all of the lessons that each one has taught me, and for the experiences that we have shared together in classes, in rehearsals, or as I watch them perform on stage. Yup, I guess you could say I am going to miss them.
To say thank you to these kids for all they have given me over the last year, I decided to share one of my other passions with them – tea. Most of my students already know of my Tealee addiction, but I wanted to make sure that all of them got a chance to try some for themselves. I used Tealee’s “Create Your Own Blend” feature to gather a list of ingredients that I thought would make a good tea for dancers to drink after class. I wanted it to be herbal so that they could drink it before bedtime, and thought that a chamomile base would help to relax their muscles and calm their bodies after a night of strenuous movement. Also, I knew I wanted it to be PINK once it was brewed, just because I am a ballerina and ballerinas tend to love pink. Lisa put everything together, tested out a couple combinations and created the most perfect, strawberry-licious blend I could ever imagine. I am absolutely in love with Twinkle Toes and I know my kids are too. I have already received dozens of messages from kids and parents confirming what I already knew – Twinkle Toes is delicious, both hot and cold, and it makes for the most perfect after dance dessert. It smells like strawberry shortcake and has a sweet but tangy flavour so it really appeals to the kids.
The best part? Lisa and Tealee make this process so easy! If you are looking to surprise someone with a truly unique and personal gift, have a wedding coming up, or just think you’ve got what it takes to put together your own tea blend, give Tealee’s “Create Your Own Blend” feature a try. Take a look at this drawing one of my kids gave me after she tried the new blend. I have to say, I agree. The world definitely NEEDS Twinkle Toes.
Contest! Share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter and tag Tealee for your chance to win yourself a free custom blend! The winner will be announced next week, Thursday, May 21st.