V’s First Ballet Shoes (Photo credit: SteveNakatani)
By Miss Lindsay
Several years ago I was at a Theresa Foundation event and Ms. Susan pulled me over at the end of the night. “I want to start a performing arts studio in Lido,” she began “it’s going to be great. I’m hiring professional, certified teachers and we are going to redo the space next summer.”
Needless to say I was thrilled when she invited me to Lido to look at the office space being converted into dance studios, music rooms, and a black box theater. I was impressed when she told me the studio was going to be exclusively for students with special needs. I was terrified when she invited me to come on as a faculty member.
I think back to my first few months teaching at TAPA and I remember my fear and anxiety about teaching a new population. I planned these elaborate lessons that I imagined would take 3-4 classes to complete and we would race through them within 30 minutes. I was exhausted in between classes and quickly running out of lessons.
After a few months I began to pick up on what the students really needed: authenticity, rhythm and repetition, and a routine. The students helped me to find those things as a teacher and they continue to remind me of the importance of these things each day.
To be authentic:
One of the things I love most about the special needs population is that the students are real. When they are tired, scared, or hungry – they show it! And when they are happy, proud, and energized, they embrace it with a full heart without embarrassment unlike any other group of students I’ve taught.
Rhythm and Repetition:
This pair is a regular guest in the TAPA building as someone is always singing, dancing, or drumming away! The students of TAPA help me to find my rhythm as a teacher through our regular warm-ups, games, and activities. The rhythm and repetition allows students and teachers to keep pushing and practicing until we get it right. We stretch ourselves within our comfort zones and we become better artists.
The kids’ routines make me smile and laugh. I missed the students and their familiar greetings, request for particular songs, and habits when the studios were closed after Hurricane Sandy. Being at TAPA is my favorite part of my weekly routine because I get to experience all of the joys and triumphs of growing along with my students and it fills me with unbelievable joy.
We’ve come a long way since those first few classes at TAPA and I am honored to be a part of this incredible journey.
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