I’ve been teaching dance for three years now, and I am always amazed by how much I learn from the kids I teach.
And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” MATTHEW 18:3
Faith. These students are faithful in humanity and in their peers. They expect goodness and kindness, and give it in return. They have wild imaginations, and like to hear about positive things in others.
Memory. The kids, at the end of their class, vote on what game they’d like to play, between Freeze Dance and Dance Cross Canada, and, often, some of the kids end up quite disappointed when their choice of game is not the majority, and I will quip, “We’ll play that game next week!” Sometimes, surely, a student will walk in the studio and say, “YAY, we’re playing Freeze Dance at the end of class today! I’ve been excited all day!” It’s the little things that mean so much to them, and they hold on to these positive things rather than worries or negativity (If anything is excellent or good, think about such things –Philippians 4:8).
Praise. When someone nails a turn in ballet or a coffee grinder in hip hop, their fellow dance mates are so often just as excited for the student as the kid her/himself. I delight at watching these kids lift each other up.
Energy. The kids’ energy and effort does not run out– they are always just excited to be in class and ready and grateful to learn. When we play games at the end of class, I am always playing with them, and the games remind me of laughing and the sort of excitement a simple game would give me when I was their age.
Free Spirit. The kids certainly have a tough time with rules, and, while many rules are important in class, such as keeping their hands to themselves, not hanging from the ballet bar (a personal pet peeve, and one of their favourite ways to annoy me 😉 ), not running in socks if they forget dance shoes one day, etc., today, for instance, one of the girls in a ballet class asked if we could play music and “just dance” at the end of class and I of course said Why not. We had so much fun together.
“Guess What?” The commonality of this question never fails to delight me. And the answer to my curious “WHAT?” is always something like, “I had pizza day at school!” or, “My mom’s birthday is in May!” Everything is exciting, and anything can delight.
“Did you know Jesus lives in hearts?” I have bonded so exceptionally beautifully with one of the students who takes both my ballet and hip hop class, Mirwet. She has signed up for every session this year, and never ceases to want to talk about our Lord Jesus. She saw my cross necklace once and was delighted to find out I was a Christian. Today, a new student in one of my ballet classes asked if I knew that the music we were listening to was “About God,” and I said yes, and she said, “Jesus is risen, Alleluia!” Mirwet heard this new girl speaking with me, and we exchanged a smile. The Spirit within these beautiful sisters has paved such a righteous atmosphere.
There is always time to hear about someone’s day. The kids love when I do “attendance question” at the beginning of class, and so often I just say, “Tell me one thing about your day.” Sometimes it can take up ten minutes of class, but it often is enough for me to learn something about the students and have my perspective changed and lightened– the “one exciting thing” is so often so generic from a world standpoint, but miraculous and praiseworthy from a Kingdom standpoint
It’s about having fun and knowing you’re praising. I preach this and enforce it in the kids that I am sure if you asked any of my students, “What’s the most important thing about dance?” They would respond that “It’s about having fun and knowing you’re praising not yourself, but something higher than yourself.” I repeat that if any of them have questions, or ever feel stressed about dance, to talk to me– but they really embody and embrace this.
Talking to strangers and assuming the good in others. “Do you wanna be my friend?” say the 4-year-old ballet kids as they fearlessly hold each others’ hands. And as the girls get older, I begin to see the changes– the fear, the learned, It’s weird to ask someone to be friends. The more judging or wondering stances, the fear of judgement, etc. I don’t want these untruths to be the atmosphere of my classes, or these kids’ lives. And they have taught me a lot about the untruth of such an atmosphere in any world or life, period.