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5 Things I Learned This Weekend...

I've always known that the community that we've built at Premier was special. You didn't have to tell me (although I love when people do!). It's something that I've made a priority since day one; quality dance education in a positive learning environment. And the "positive learning environment" to which I've been referring isn't just in the dance room - it's in the studio, it's on the stage, it's everywhere that Premier goes.

This past weekend was recital weekend. And this year, during the week leading up to the recital, and at the actual recital, I learned a few things about the community we've created at Premier. Here are 5 Things I Learned This Weekend:

1) When the chips are down, our Premier faculty, dancers and families are there to help me and each other. Some of you may not know, but I had a family emergency on Friday afternoon which made it impossible for me to make it to the start of dress rehearsals (side note: everyone in my family is just fine now). In fact, I didn't know if I would make it there at all. Well, a few quick phone calls later and the dress rehearsal was underway without me. My faculty, my mom and some good friends were willing to step in and keep things running smoothly. And the dancers and parents rolled with it. By the time I arrived, the dress rehearsal was almost 1/2 done, and they were ahead of schedule! I couldn't be more thankful for the help, good humor and positive vibes of our dance community.

2) Our dancers are welcoming, inclusive and big-hearted. This past fall, a long-time Premier student, Macy, who hadn't danced at a studio in three years, decided she wanted to return to Premier for her senior year of high school. Our dancers welcomed her with open arms right from the start. I always knew they would, but this past week they really proved me right. They begged to have class on Wednesday (even though it was leading up to a long three days of dance), and although that didn't really surprise me, their reasoning was the best I could've hoped for: it was Macy's last day of dance and they wanted to spend it with her and celebrate. They've grown to love her, and there were tears after the recital when the idea of no longer dancing with Macy was about to become a reality. This beautiful group of girls opened their arms and their hearts, and gathered Macy into the bond that they've been forming for years.

3) When one of us does something amazing, there is an abundance of pride among the entire Premier community. During the recital on Saturday, I announced that Miss Zebbie had, just that afternoon, graduated from college. And the crowd in the auditorium went wild cheering for her. I am so incredibly proud of Miss Zebbie for raising three amazing kids, working full time, putting her heart and soul into teaching dance at Premier, AND finishing her college education! And the audience reacted to this news as though they had all been pulling for her all along! It was heartwarming and again proved to me that we are all there for each other all the way.

4) When one of us struggles, we lift them up and help them accomplish their goal. Probably the most difficult moment of the recital was when a soloist was unable to finish her dance on stage. My heart was breaking for her, and I was wishing I could just go up on that stage and help her through it. Well, I couldn't do that, but our audience did everything they could to be understanding, supportive and encouraging. They cheered when she decided to try again. And during intermission, complete strangers told her mom how brave she was and how much they enjoy her dancing. Backstage, I told her that there was no pressure from me, but if she wanted to try it 10 more times (!) she could, all she had to do was let me know. Well, shortly into the 2nd half of the show, her sister came to tell me she did indeed want to try it again. And, she didn't just try, that girl nailed it! I've never been so proud of her! And the audience was amazing - they cheered when she walked out, as they saw that she was really going to make it happen they began clapping in time with the music and at the end the entire auditorium erupted in applause and cheering! I honestly thought she might get a standing ovation! And it would have been well-deserved. But, without the kindness, understanding and encouragement from her family, friends and the strangers in the audience, I'm not sure she would have tried again. Thank you for giving her the confidence she needed to get over that hump and prove to herself that she could do it!

5) It's different at Premier. As if all of the events above don't already prove that it's different here, this last one really says it all. After the recital, as I was making my way through the lobby congratulating dancers on their wonderful performances, I stopped to talk with a mom of one of our advanced dancers. Her daughter is on her high school dance team, along with another one of our dancers. This mom commented to me that the mothers from the high school dance team have said that if there is one thing they can't stand about dance studios it's all the back-biting and negative behavior. The two Premier moms smiled at each other and said "it's not like that at Premier". The other moms seemed to think that wasn't possible. But our Premier moms just kept smiling and saying "no, the kids at Premier don't act like that". It's not the first time I've heard something similar to this, but it made me smile just the same.

I know it's different. It's what I've always wanted. Our faculty, our dancers and their families are always striving to ELEVATE themselves. We're working hard to be positive influences in the dance community. And I am so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together!

ELEVATE: Encouragement Leadership Empowerment Values Acceptance Trust Excellence

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