Teaching dance classes, I am usually unaware of how my students dress in “real life.” After months of predictable permutations of pigtails, leotards, and sweatpants, I am always somewhat startled when I arrive at the Impulse Dance Center Holiday Party for class assistants. Who are all these stylish young women in high heels with hair cascading to their waists?
Waiting in line for the lasagna this year, I glanced around the room to attach names to these suddenly unfamiliar faces. Introducing oneself to someone you have taught for several years is mortifying. I am incredibly embarrassed to admit, however, that is not as uncommon as it should be at events such as this.
So who was the stunning, statuesque student striding over toward me? Why did I banish my glasses to my bag when I arrived?
Jena? Maybe but she seemed a little tall…
Could this really be the same shy child who preferred to perform in the shadows of other dancers for so many years? Her casual confidence bore little resemblance to the girl who graduated a few years ago.
Indeed, it was Jena. While she regaled me with the tale of finding a fantastic spot for funky Brazilian footwear in Connecticut, I marveled at her transformation.
Everyone on the faculty was thrilled when she chose a local college and decided to continue dancing at the studio. Gradually, she has gravitated to the front of the room for floor work and to the start of the line for complex jumping combinations.
Her show stopping, attention-grabbing shoes exemplified how much she has evolved. Their vibrant colors and quirky details punctuated her elegant outfit with an offbeat counterpoint. It was no small feat to brave a chilly evening and several flights of stairs in those open toes and 3-inch heels. It signified a bold commitment to her personal sense of pizazz.
In addition to her studies, she has assumed more responsibilities as an assistant and mentors many of the younger kids. Even with out the heels, you can see why they look up to her. She has internalized the surprise, sass, and mystery of Jazz.