Square One


photo by Jannes Pockele (Flickr)

photo by Jannes Pockele (Flickr)

I hope everyone had a splendid holiday and New Year.  As for me and my family, we just chilled, played games, and watched movies.  It was an ideal way to spend my time off.  Unfortunately, the good news ends there.

My teacher is gone.  Yep, the one I barely even knew, gone.  I’ve come to understand after years of dancing that as far as transient jobs go, franchise instructor probably tops them all.  Most dancers see it as a stepping stone for a better job.  How odd that I see it as my dream job, not a transition but an end itself!  I hope and pray that I am not the only one that sees thus…  So, here’s a timeline, which I’m also writing to help myself catch up and recuperate:

mid-July — Tommy leaves after being my instructor for three years.  I’m at the peak of my dancing, particularly working on my Viennese amalgamation and preparing for my first studio show with him.  I don’t know why he leaves, save for what Eddie tells me.  He says he won’t let Tommy back to the studio until he resolves his “personal issues.”  Though if I may be perfectly frank, I’m not sure he’d be let in again, which is already making the huge assumption that he would come back.  I know from the get-go that I need to move on.

roughly five months later — After switching between Eddie and Olga for the duration of this gap, Cole arrives and things finally start to look better.  He strikes me as both laid back and energetic with a love of teaching technique.  I’m eager to know him better as his student.

Last night — I have two lessons scheduled with Cole, one for this week and one for the Christmas holiday.  (He had he asked me if I wanted to dance over the break.  I told him that I preferred to wait until after the New Year.)  On Monday, he isn’t present at the studio, and I get naturally suspicious *’high turnover alarm’ sounds inside my head*  Turns out, he has a family emergency because his grandmother fell ill.  No lessons for Monday, but Eddie tells me that either he or Cole will contact me to see what they could work out.  I get no calls and don’t go to classes until Thursday.  It may be time for the weekly studio practice party, but I need answers.  I ask Eddie if Cole is okay, and Eddie says he isn’t.  I assume his grandmother has died and wonder deep down whether he’ll come back to the studio or not.  I press slightly harder.  “His grandmother is fine,” he tells me.

“So, is he sick?” I ask, delaying the answer I already know.

“No,” Eddie replies.

“So, when is he coming back?” at this point I’m just trying to stay afloat and am very desperate.

“He’s not coming back,” Eddie answers.

“He’s not coming back?” I ask for “clarification.”

“No, he’s definitely not coming back.” Eddie says.

(*Sigh* It’s kind of pathetic to write this little transcript out.  Our conversation was like that repetitive, back-and-forth Sandford Meisner exercise for actors!  I know my reaction isn’t extraordinary, and it’s not like I began to cry in front of him—the crying began after I’d gone home.)

I don’t want to write much more because I need to give myself some time to breathe and let go.  I know it’s a business, first and foremost.  I know people who lead businesses have to make tough choices, and respect both their employees and customers.  I know I’m back to shuffling between Eddie and Olga, though it’s better than having no teacher at all.  Finally, I know I’m done writing.  I’ll see you guys when I’ve rested more.

Tiredly but lovingly,



7 thoughts on “Square One

  1. I’m so sorry, Alaina. I have at least some idea of how hard losing Tommy, and then Cole, must have been for you. We get attached to our teachers – it’s a fact of dancing’. The flip side of loving them – and we do love them, albeit in a contained, circumscribed way – and getting so much joy from them, is the tsunami of pain when we are cut off from that.

    Mourn. Construct a little altar with a flower, a candle, and some water (in the Buddhist way), and maybe add a few sequins or stones. Eventually, you’ll fee better. Who knows what great adventure awaits you, then?

    • Every time a teacher has left, I’ve mourned in some way. I only had two private lessons with Cole, so I never got to know him that well. I was more mourning the fact that I felt like I was being kicked when I was down, still trying to get used to Tommy not being there, and then getting and losing a new teacher before I could really grasp what was happening.

      I did a lot more ugly crying last night than I’d care to remember so I think my mourning is over. Like I said, I didn’t know him well. Though, I do feel like I’ve taken two steps back in my progress of recovering from losing Tommy.

    • I know what you mean. Whenever anybody “Likes” my post, I take it as a compliment to my writing, not to the circumstances. Thanks you for being so sensitive, though.

  2. That really really sucks. 😦 Even if you didn’t know him well, it just sucks to not have that stability in your dancing! We all know how long it can take to establish a relationship/connection with a teacher, and you need that connection to really progress your dancing. I think you hit the nail on the head though – whether it’s the reason Cole left or not, I think franchise studios are very much a “stepping stone” for people wanting to teach ballroom for a living. So many of the independent teachers I know have started at a franchise. But they definitely didn’t stay there. My impression is there is more money to be made elsewhere. Here’s hoping things get better for you in 2016!

    • I think that “stepping stone” element, among other things are why people love to slam franchises, which really grates on my nerves. I know there are probably independent teachers I could look up where Iive, but I don’t feel the need. It’s kind of like with my job.

      It might not be my dream job, but most first jobs rarely are. I intend to stay with my job until I’m pushed in another direction. I’ll know when I can move on. That’s how I’m feeling about my studio. Anyway, thanks for the well wishes. I’m hoping big and positive changes await me this year.

      • Unfortunately, the general attitude (at least that I’ve been exposed to) is the franchises are where you start as a pro/teacher and if you want to advance your dancing career, you don’t stay. That doesn’t make franchises a bad place to be, but I guess, like you said, ambitious teachers end up feeling pushed/pulled in another direction that takes them away from the franchise. I KNOW positive changes are in store for you! 🙂 Just stay open to the possibilities, it’ll happen.

The floor is yours now.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s