Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your Message Has Been Heard

Pretty Sure An Adult Did ThisA lot of the time it's good to speak out. You need to let people know that you support them or disagree with them or want them to jump out of the way of the falling piano.

Sometimes, though, silence is golden.

A million years and several iterations of me ago I taught dance. Mostly I did it in NYC and my students were between the ages of 1 and 11. For a while, though, I also got to go a little north of the city to teach high school aged dancers and choreographers. It was a crappy commute but a golden learning experience.

The star dancer and choreographer was directly out of Central Casting. She was thin and blond and flexible and self-assured. She was smart and driven and calm and kind. At the time she was also only about 5 years younger than I was (she probably still is!). The day before the show I was asked if I had any notes for her on her piece and I kept it short but clear. I thought watered down her message by repeating a section of her dance and it risked boring the audience because they'd already seen the ending once and she just did it again. She nodded and took in the information but didn't say much.

The next night I sat in the balcony of the auditorium with my mentor and we watched the show. Central Casting Girl had entirely re-worked her dance so the ending only happened once and at the end. The shock and awe of having someone, especially someone who seemed so perfect and golden and blessed, listen to my assessment and take action on it made me giddy. I knew better than to gush too pridefully in front of my mentor but I couldn't keep my mouth completely closed. I asked her, in whispered tones, what I should say to the choreographer because clearly I had to say something because she'd changed her whole piece based on my words, the ones I thought up and spoke because I was a teacher now, an honest-to-goodness teacher! I remember so clearly walking a step behind my mentor as we passed through a dingy wire-windowed school door in the auditorium to go backstage and see the performers as she quietly told me, "Maybe you don't have to say anything. Maybe you've said it already and been heard."

Maybe...just maybe I have.


  1. Anonymous5:48 PM

    I felt similarly when I taught college-level writing classes. I was a grad student so my students weren't that much younger than me and yet they were listening to me! And changing their writing based on MY feedback! It was scary and thrilling all at once.

  2. I think about this everytime I'm working with a volunteer or troop or group of volunteers. Learning to stay quiet and let everything just land where it will, and allowing them to pick it up and do with it what they will...it's a lesson for sure.

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