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Retro: July 2003

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I have been weeding my old journal, tagging old posts for future reference (didn’t really use tags regularly until this past year), and generally reading up on old memories. I came across this one, when I had been teaching about 2 years, and it made me smile. If you teach, you know what moments like this feel like:

“Last night I think I got the biggest compliment I have ever received as a teacher.
My Thursday night classes have been picking up again, and while the class itself still feels warm and friendly, I have had to wonder if everyone is having fun. There are a lot of concentrated looks, and my students are more quiet in that class than any class I have ever taught–not much feedback. I ask questions and they just look at me. So I have been a little off-balance all session trying to figure out if I am giving them what they need, since they aren’t telling me. If it weren’t for a few outwardly enthusiastic students, I would wonder if anyone was having fun.

So last night was about the same. It was week 6, which is always a fun night to just jam. There was more smiling last night than usual, but still pretty quiet. It was dress-up night, and only a few people dressed up (not a requirement, but it’s fun, so when so few people do it…).

It was hot as sin as usual for summer in the Firehouse, and when we finished, I was walking around feeling sweaty and a little run down, closing windows and getting ready to leave, when a student walked up and tapped me on the shoulder. I honestly didn’t remember her name, since as I said above, I have had so little interaction with this group this session. I turned around to hear what she had to say. And she told me a story:

She said that the night she came to her first session class, she didn’t know she was coming until the day of. That was the day she broke off a bad relationship of 2 1/2 years…a really bad one. She was feeling more awful than she could remember, and her friends talked her into coming to this belly dance class with them. She said within 15 minutes of class, she was smiling and didn’t even realize it. She felt truly good on one of her worst days. She said over the next six weeks, life was really hard recovering from this bad relationship, but she is in such a great place today. She said that belly dance class was the highlight of her every week, and contributed to her being in such a good place now. She said it makes her feel “beautiful AND strong…BOTH!” she exclaimed. She said that class has made her feel so good about her body, about herself, and everything, and she has looked forward to it every week, and thanked me for having such an awesome class and being such a great teacher. I started to cry a little and gave her a big hug, thanking her for sharing this with me. It meant so much to me that she came and told me this, and even moreso that she “gets it” (the power of tribal) and it helped heal her.

Here I wasn’t sure if anyone was getting what they needed from the class, and I find out they were getting more than I even hoped to help give them. It meant the world to me. I did get her name…and a big smile from her. I flew on little clouds all the way home. I think I still see a little cloud under me today. I feel really great about next session, now…”

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Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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