March 10, 2012
You trickle in, softshoes in hand, and sit on the ground to loosen the laces and slide your feet in. I turn on some music and a couple of you can’t wait until after the warmup. You just have to dance. You start running the new section of your reel and asking me questions. Yes, yes, I danced in the aisles at the market too.
Another student arrives and several huddle together to hear each other’s news. I love that you’re friends, but I hide it under a stern admonishment that we need to get to work. Another girl bounds in to give me a hug. It makes me feel excited to start the day. We’re partners in a goal, and it’s thrilling for all of us to see the improvement.
Okay, time to focus. The drill music goes on and everyone begins to move together, slow at first, lazily stretching tight muscles and sore joints, then increasing in spring as the blood flows. I worked that muscle hard last week, and we both enjoy exchanging tales of how sore we are from that drill last time. Finally, your faces begin to shine and it’s time to dance.
Let’s get to work.
September 30, 2009
I know this is going to sound callous, but this will be good for you.
You didn’t know how much it hurt her to be ostracized, just because she was good. Because she worked hard, was focused instead of chatting along the back wall. Perhaps you thought that being a Championship dancer was reward enough to cover all the ostracization. So you went ahead and made her feel like no one liked her.
Perhaps you were jealous. Perhaps you didn’t understand.
But you do now.
You want it now. I love to see the fire start burning in you. You’re getting better… you’re on the cusp of championship. You’re working hard, starting to sweat during class, although you wouldn’t have wanted to before. You ask for extra help, just like she does. And you actually take my advice, just like she does. You want it bad enough to let go of that teenage pride, and it’s paying off.
And the jealousy is now being directed toward you. You never knew how it felt to have friends you had for years suddenly not want to talk to you, or at least chat like before. Maybe you didn’t notice because you spend your time in class working hard. I know now that those same friends, the ones who started with you, are not understanding why suddenly you’re getting attention from me. I’d give it to them too if they would take it sincerely.
Maybe talk to “the chosen one” again. Maybe she would love for you to ask her about one of the moves in your reel. Maybe she’d love someone to just acknowlege she’s there. It’s true: Teenagers love attention, but they want good friends more. So cut her some slack, if only because you’d like your own.