As I prepare for the 2017-18 School Year, I can't help but reminisce about how we got here. This will be our 20th year in business and it has been a roller coaster of a ride. But I wouldn't trade it for anything!
My husband, Chris, used to ask me (21+ years ago) "don't you want your own dance studio? Don't you want to be your own boss?" and I would always say "No, not really"... You see, it wasn't that I didn't want those things, I just didn't want to get on stage and speak in front of the audience at the recital! Seriously! Ask me to dance, and I'll be the first one jumping on that stage, but 21 years ago, you couldn't pay me enough to want to speak in front of the audience at the recital! Well, Chris was persistent, and eventually I decided that my love for dance, and for teaching, out-weighed my fear of public speaking. And I'm so glad that I had my biggest cheerleader at home encouraging me to follow my dreams. Now, looking back, here are some memories and achievements I've kept near and dear to my heart...
Watching students achieve their goals: Over the years, several of my students were accepted into some of the most prestigious summer ballet intensive programs in the country; ABT, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Fransisco Ballet, to name a few. It's an amazing feeling to know that I had a part in helping these dancers achieve something they'd been working so hard to achieve.
American Girl books, doll, online journal and movie! Several years ago, I received a phone call from an author for American Girl books. She asked if she could observe a few dance classes for a new book she was writing, and I happily agreed. Well, one thing lead to another and American Girl hired me to offer advice and critique her new book. Then, a few years later, that same author called and asked me if I would be interested in working on another project with American Girl. Little did I know how big this next project would turn out to be! The new project was The American Girl Of The Year, Isabelle! I offered advice, artwork critiques and ideas for the Girl Of The Year project, which included a doll, three books, an online journal and a made for TV movie. In the online journal, Isabelle's former dance teacher's name was Miss Shannon, a tip of the hat to me, according to the author! It was thrilling to see my name in each book and online, and even more thrilling to hear of my friends' daughters begging for their own Isabelle doll! I have my own Isabelle doll, along with her ballet outfit, books and a Premier sweatsuit (made by a student's mom). It's definitely a prized possession of mine!
A few television appearances: "Trade Jobs With Rob" was a feature on channel 15's ten o'clock news. The sportscaster, Rob, would come and attempt to do your job and then you would announce the sports on the ten o'clock news! So, Rob and I traded jobs! He came to the dance studio and didn't really try to teach dance, but he did try to take a ballet class! And I went to channel 15's studio and filmed the sports with him! And, a few years ago, I was nominated for channel 3's "Top Notch Teacher Award". Charlotte Deleste came to Premier, interviewed me and filmed me teaching a preballet class. I'm sure I have a copy of both of these appearances somewhere. So much for my fear of public speaking!
Traveling with dancers: Since Premier opened, our dancers have ventured on a few dance trips; I'd say they were dance trips of a lifetime! About 17 years ago (I'd have to look up the year), we took dancers on a cruise! The girls spent the school year rehearsing for their performance on the ship and in the Bahamas. Although the weather wasn't great in the Bahamas, it was an opportunity I don't think those dancers will forget. And, as most of you know, we've taken dancers to Disney World to perform. We've performed there three times, and it's been an incredible experience every time. I hope to take dancers to Disney World again someday, but who knows, maybe some other exciting trip will present itself and we'll try something new!
Fun with parents: In 2002, a group of moms surprised their dancers and performed in the recital. The dancers were shocked, and I had a great time getting to know the moms and planning their performance! Not to be outdone, the dads got in on the act in 2008! They learned a ballet dance that had the audience in stitches and their children were horrified when some of the dads even wore tutus on stage! And, I'm sure most of you remember the last time we surprised the dancers... we spent three months planning and rehearsing a flash mob, and the dancers were shocked when the parents jumped on stage during my introductions at the recital and performed their flash mob routine! The parents at Premier are amazing, always game for a fun time and definitely willing to pull one over on their dancers, all in the name of good fun!
Watching a new generation learn to dance: Probably the most rewarding experience has been watching a new generation learn to dance. I was fortunate enough to watch my own son, Brecken, perform on stage (he's outgrown it, and I'm fine with that) - it was a mixture of unbelievable pride, love and wonder. I've known Miss Zebbie's daughter, Kennedy, since she was born, and it was an honor to teach her at Premier and watch her become the amazing young woman she is today. I also taught Miss Zebbie's sons, CJ and Damon, but like Brecken, eventually they outgrew it and moved on to other activities. And now, Miss Becky's daughter, Sarah, Miss Jaclyn's twin sons, Parker and Chane, and Miss Michelle's daughter, Dani, are all in dance classes at Premier! Add to that friends from my childhood, who's children dance at Premier, and now, former students' children dancing! How can I be that old?!
It's been one heck of a ride! As we begin our 20th year at Premier, I have to wonder what other amazing adventures await us. Stay tuned...