Is the teacher who produces phenomenal ballerinas more credible than the teacher who produces the best hip-hop dancers? Is the teacher in small-town America less passionate than the teacher in big-city America? My thought is that all dance teachers pass on the gifts of dance in the most appropriate way for them. They share a common goal and I don't judge how they do it.
I always encourage teachers to get together to share the life with those who best understand it (even if the other teacher happens to be in the same town). One studio owner friend, whom I will call Mary, took the "common bond" message to heart. She sent an email to the school owners in her area, inviting them and their students to master classes at her school. Sounds like the perfect way to open the doors of communication-or was it?
In response to Mary's email, she received the following:
Today I received your invitation. We are a professional school teaching dance as an art form, not a commercial dance studio. Our students go to summer programs at Joffrey, ABT, and Governor's School, to name a few. We would not be sending our trained pre-professional students to the boonies to study with former beauty queens. Please kindly remove us from your mailing list.
What strikes me most is that this school owner made the time in her busy and obviously successful teaching life to ridicule Mary. Of course, it's acceptable not to respond at all-we all receive email invitations to dance events that don't interest us-but why go out of your way to be condescending? What inspires a dance person to hurt another is beyond my understanding.
Nothing positive comes from this teacher's mean-spirited response to an invitation sent in a gesture of goodwill. Instead of the proper response-silence, or a polite "No, thanks"-this person has created resentment. Without claiming to be an expert in psychology, I am confident that she could be described as an insecure person with a need to feel superior to someone-anyone. And she chose to stroke her ego by degrading another person who loves to do the same thing she does. Too bad
But wait-I just thought of the good that comes from this email: It inspires me-and, I hope, you-to be resilient advocates for bringing the dance community together, especially educators and school owners. No matter where and how we choose to share it, we all share a passion for our art. We can't help ourselves.