In our very first rehearsal I had a student who talked incessantly while we were trying to explain steps, giggled behind our backs every time we turned around, had to do everything in her power to have all the attention on her and then when I thought it couldn’t get any better she suggested what dance steps she felt would be better suited for everyone to me…the choreographer. It took 4 non-stop hours of this, and her telling me what I should choreograph, before I finally cracked and in frustration asked her if she could “JUST STOP” in not the nicest of tones. This will not by any means make my list of moments I am proud of. As a matter of fact I have only lost my composure one other time in my thirteen years of teaching performers and I’m not proud of that moment either.
I beat myself up all the way home from rehearsal that night. The next morning started off with a message from the Director that he wrote to me from the Principal’s office where he was joined by the student’s mother. It was right then and there that I realized the gap in generations was the size of the distance between continents on earth. I never in a million years would have done any of the things that this student so rudely did in rehearsal. However, if I did, you can believe I wouldn’t have had the courage to go home to my mother and tell her about how the guest choreographer spoke to me abruptly. Probably because my mother would have wanted to know what on earth drove the choreographer to do that, but I get a strong feeling that the mother in this instance did not inquire about what her daughter did to entice that reaction from me.
From that first day of rehearsal until opening night there was a small handful of students who continually did things to keep us talking on the drive home about the generational divide. The project started as an exciting endeavor for us to work together and unfortunately was overshadowed repeatedly by less than savory behavior from the students. This is definitely the first time ever that I walked away from a project feeling as if I accomplished nothing in the hours that I took off from my job to be there with these students. When the curtain dropped we were full of nothing but smiles from ear to ear and praise for the kids who worked hard to make us proud. However, in one foul swoop the whole night took a turn for the worst and left us feeling as if we wished we had never been invited to be a part of the show.
I returned home that night completely crushed by the overall dark cloud hanging above. It’s a real shame as there were several amazing students in the group that I would have loved to enjoy the experience with. There were still a few performers who really get it. They came to life on that stage on opening night and were shining brighter than the stage lights. These are the students that make you want to impart every ounce of knowledge gained so that they never have to make the same mistakes you did. In the aftermath of that opening night, I’m trying to remind myself that there are still young performers out there that want to learn and know how to be gracious. As I walk away from this post, I’m leaving my negative feeling out on the page and embracing the feelings I had when I saw those shining performers come to life on stage.