I also want to give a big shout out to all of our cast members. They have done a truly incredible job. We have the youngest cast of any Nutcracker production around and yet they have accomplished so much in the same span of rehearsals. I assure you as you're watching them, you will forget they are children. They have a lot to be proud of, from our littlest tea dancers to our sugarplum fairies.
I hope our Nutcracker weekend is as joyful and magical for everyone involved as it will be for me.
On that note, I have to just say:
I’m not here to be liked…
It’s nice to be liked, don’t get me wrong. And it’s cruel to be indifferent. But ultimately that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to share, to toil, to work, to create, to love and to build things. We’re here specifically to learn and to dance. And sometimes the best way to create an environment in which we can share the most, create the most, build the most, learn the most, and dance the most will result in my not being liked.
So be it.
I’ll be very clear on this: While I will not tolerate abuse towards my staff nor myself, I do not care one iota about being liked.
In fact, the best indicator that I’m doing my job well is when a rule-breaker doesn’t like me.
I care about a lot of things that go on at our school, in our community, in this industry. Too much even.
- I care about how every student is feeling at every moment of their experience here
- I care about juggling the needs of one child versus the needs of hundreds of others in every class, every rehearsal, every role-given, every disciplinary comment issued, every sticker question recipient, every choice of line-leader, and every ‘who gets the pink wings’.
- I care about how much they are learning – we juggle children’s innate need for fun and play with their capacity to learn and their need for discipline all the time.
- I care about whether I’m setting a child up for failure by too much hand-holding or by not enough hand-holding
- I care about whether we’re spending too much time on one family’s needs and not enough on another’s
- I care about whether this child needs to be coached further to their edge or if they need to scale back and rest
- I care about whether or not I should prioritize a parent’s question or their child’s class time
- I care about whether the staff needs more support from me or needs more freedom to be the best they can be for our students
- I care about the kids being able to do an amazing job, have an amazing time and at the same time be successful on stage
- I care about them learning as much as possible in the small amount of time we have them each week
- I care about them, of course, learning ballet, but also about taking care of their bodies, about arts and culture, and about life
- I care about them learning to be a part of a community, to be rule-abiding, to look out for the greater good, to look out for the littler ones
- I care about them learning ‘to do’ instead of saying ‘something needs to be done’
- I care about upholding consistent rules so that they are clear, concise, easily followed and fair
I speak on behalf of the entire community of board, staff, dancers and parents when I say the following - We do workarounds whenever possible. Most of the cast can attest to how accommodating we can be at one point or another.
We constantly reconsider the rules to work the best for the most people. We are always open to queries, questions and nuances when said queries are respectful and considerate of the other members of our community.
But we like discipline. We are dancers after all. And it is the very reason why families want their children to learn the art of ballet. There is no greater tool in life than discipline.
So if you’re not contributing to that notion, or at the very least appreciating it, you are countering it. Just like I tell our student teachers, if you’re not helping, you’re distracting. And frankly, that’s not welcome here.
We’ve made a lot of sacrifices, as a school, to keep that nonsense out of here. So if you’re coming in looking for excuses, reasons why the rules are no good, and why they shouldn’t apply to you; if you’re coming in seeking to point out the failures of our systems and policies and procedures so that you don’t have to abide by them – you’re coming to the wrong place.
And before attacking me personally – just know: If you’re coming in thinking that I’ll turn my back on the hundreds of people investing their time, energy, trust, money, and help into our programs, the very people who are counting on me to uphold a higher standard for our school, because I’m afraid of not being liked - you’re in for a rude awakening.
I appreciate them far too much and I owe it to them to put my needs aside and get my job done.
Guess I’m just nasty like that.