Why Did My Dance Teacher Leave?
This is tough. No one likes it, and like so many things that seem to be unfair in life - it's never the grand design to have your dance teacher leave the school you're in.
So why does it happen, and what can you do to ensure that your hobby doesn't sink in the process?
Why We Love Our Dance Teachers
1. Multi-faceted Job Description
Let's be honest, a great dance teacher goes way beyond teaching you where to put your feet, arms, and hips. They have a compound role: Motivator, Counselor, or Fashion Consultant - to name a few.
Imagine any picture taken at a ground breaking ceremony, a monumental discovery, or a championship award - each person involved will be remembered and celebrated.
The breakthrough in your dance journey is exactly the same. Now, no one is going to give you a Nobel Prize for your dance frame, but we tend to hold the dance instructors responsible for our success near and dear to our hearts.
3. Support Through Struggle
Learning to dance can expose stress points, coping mechanisms, and shed light on insecurities you may never have planned on showing anyone. Your dance instructor was there to support you through those moments that went beyond learning the steps.
4. Off the Floor
Learning to dance may have been your initial goal, but for a great instructor - it's just the beginning. Their objective is to not only help you develop the confidence to use your dancing in public, but to maintain that confidence even when you're not dancing.
Why Teachers Leave
To preface this, there are times when even the studio owners won't know the full story as to why their teacher is leaving. In other cases, it could be something work related that may be better left private. It is important to note that it is very rare that a teacher leaves specifically because of a student.
1. Follow Their Passion
Sometimes working as a dance instructor is the warmup round for something they are truly passionate about. Whether it is pursuing an acting career, or a chance to join the Peace Corps - it's hard to be angry when you know they are leaving for something more fulfilling.
2. Financial Gain
There have been teachers in the past that have decided to trade in their teaching positions for a higher paying position in a cubicle. This may not necessarily result in job happiness, but it may pay more. Some of these types of teachers have been known to return to teaching.
3. External Pressure
Teaching dance for a living could, quite possibly, be the most misunderstood type of employment through the eyes of non-dancers. It isn't as recognizable as waiter, manager, or customer service representative, and therefore, the departure could be due to scrutiny by family and friends.
4. Job Expectations
As in any industry, there are those that don't fit the part - and aren't hired. There are those that do fit the part - and are hired. Then there are those that fit the part, but only after being hired does the management realize that they don't, after all, fit the part. Whether this is due to work performance, or just basic things like showing up on time - sometimes people leave because they were not the right fit for this industry.
5. Personal Matters
A teacher may leave for reasons that aren't for public consumption. Whether that's based on how they were interacting with their co-workers, a breakdown in communication, personal relationships, or otherwise. Keeping this discreet is no different in any other industry - except Hollywood.
What You Can Do
The easiest solution is to give everything up - all the progress, all the breakthroughs, all the challenging moments that this person coached you through - it would be easiest to ditch it all.
That's not really the solution.
1. Your teacher may have known you, seemingly, better than anyone else, but that doesn't mean you are incapable of continuing to learn.
2. We see what we are prepared to see. So if you're only looking around your studio for someone exactly like your old teacher - you won't find them, and that's not a fair measurement for the other talented people that can teach you.
3. If you have children, you know what it's like when your world gets flipped upside-down and you have your first child. You believe that you could never love anyone more than you love that baby. Then you have a second child and then it hits you - I can love both of these kids just as much, and for different reasons. It's no different with teachers. You can love how much your first teacher taught you, but that doesn't make you incapable of loving what you're learning from another.
4. Think of the person for a second. Your teacher didn't leave because of a mastermind scheme - they left because they made a decision to do so. Just like any loss, big or small, it's up to us to understand that there's another human involved who has labored over the decision - and it probably isn't an easy one.
5. By all means, keep dancing. Your former teacher isn't crossing their fingers and praying at night that you have suspended all future dance lessons and spend your free time sitting in silent protest outside of the dance studio. They want you to dance. They've left the keys to the dossier on your dance program in the hands of management and a very capable teacher or three. Everything from how you learn, what your schedule is like, to how you take your coffee.
This is not meant to diminish the connection you've had to any instructor that you miss. What it is intended to do is give some insight into the human side of the dance business. As great as they may be at teaching dance, they may be even greater doing something else.
Not all dance instructors stay dance instructors - but that doesn't mean you're the only one that is surprised, frustrated, or missing them like crazy.
But we should all understand that the best thing we can do is celebrate what they shared with us, continue to refine it, and make it something that is lasting.
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