August 12, 2012
It has been so fun watching you two find friendship in my classes. You both walked into your first Irish dance class, and met each other. Your personalities matched you together perfectly. Soon you were one inseparable unit. Practicing steps together at your homes, making silly t-shirts commemorating your mutual wierdness, making everyone in class smile with your inside jokes. You helped each other through learning the tough steps, surviving your first feis together, facing the little challenges along the way.
You’ve both come a long way, zipping through the beginner levels and working quickly through the novice and prizewinner bottlenecks. Here is where the tough part starts.
For being so alike, you’re actually very different dancewise. One a natural dancer with beautiful legs, the other a hard worker who won’t quit till it’s right. You’re watching each other intently, figuring out why the other is so much better at (fill in the blank here). Little bits of jealousy start to flit back and forth. Secretiveness when needing help on a movement. Tracking each other’s placements as much as your own. I worry. The lightness leaves your friendship in the heat of the classes. More short comments and sitting across the room from each other.
Please don’t give up on each other. Yes, one will probably progress faster in hardshoe, the other in softshoe. One may even qualify for Preliminary, leaving her best friend to struggle in Prizewinner just a bit longer… just a year, or two. It will all even out.
Your friendship can’t be based on dancing equality. You’re both working hard, both giving it all you’ve got. Let your mutual drive be your friendship protector. Help each other, support each other. Laugh off the differences, especially in competitive level. Don’t let the competition break what is so special to all of us.
Friendship is more important. Without it, the joy will leave. Fight for it. Please.
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.