Written below is a glimpse at what I do and why. It’s also a message to my dancers.
A Dance Teachers Journey-By Dani Tucci-Juraga
I am a dance teacher. I am a choreographer. But beyond that, I am an educator, a mentor, and a friend. It is my responsibility to teach my dancers about pliés and shuffles, but more importantly about commitment, teamwork, responsibility and accountability.
My brain never turns off. When there’s music on I am choreographing it. If I am shopping, I think to myself, “Could I use this for a costume or prop?” I am forever answering emails. I am constantly thinking about the next show, even though I am barely through the current one. I am always searching for music and combinations because I crave inspiration for my dancers and myself. I am endlessly editing music. I often need to skip family gatherings to finish a 3-minute dance that takes all weekend long. I can sometimes be found in an empty studio or theater on an anniversary or birthday, preparing a show until 2am because I would rather die first then have anyone of my dancers disappointed. I am “at work” always, mentally and/or physically.
I am an artist, entertainer, costume designer, creator, sculptor, music editor, marketing manager, bookkeeper, guidance councilor, cheerleader and salesman. I am a self-motivated entrepreneur. I am always and forever a student, realizing that the main component to growth is exposure and education. It is my duty to pass these invaluable life lessons on to you as those before have done for me.
Me upholding a dress code goes so much further than ‘being mean.’ It instills the necessity of preparation for the day of classes and ultimately life. Your boss may not be forgiving when one day you show up unprepared for the assigned work or presentation. It could cost you your job.
Me encouraging you to ask questions goes much further than you understanding the combination or choreography at hand. It builds the confidence to know when you need help, take a step back and look at things objectively and subjectively. It allows you to communicate confusion or frustration.
Me teaching you how to layer your tights and perform a 1-minute quick change in the wings goes further than just the dance recital. It teaches time management – multitasking, prioritizing, and knowing when to ask for help.
Me drilling you on the importance of a technique goes beyond me saying it over and over. It shows that with the proper training and the right coaching and mentoring, that anything is possible. And that one-day with all of the hard work you have dedicated in class, that you will get to your full potential as a result.
I know how much you are capable of and expect nothing less than your full potential at all times. I hold you to a higher standard because I know that you are more than able to meet and surpass that standard. I push you because I know that once you move on from the studio, the world will be so much harder than I ever was.
I educate my dancers to not only be technicians and performers, but to be highly effective contributors to society, no matter which path they choose.
So dancers, know this: I love you and am more proud of you than you will ever know. We will always have an unbreakable bond that was formed within the four studio walls, at a ballet barre, with marley and sprung wood floors underneath us. Remember that nothing, (bent knees, sickled feet, etc..) can alter the respect I have for you. I know that each time you put on those shoes and step onto the floor, you’re invested, you’re dedicated and because you decided to show up, you’ve stepped up. Because you’ve done that, I am there for you! You will always be a winner.