I was recently bemoaning the fact that with all today’s technology, they have yet to find a way to clone a mom. I just need one more of me out there to pick up the slack because this current model isn't able to keep up the pace. Between running the studio full-time and being a daughter, granddaughter, sister, wife, and mom to four – there needs to be at least one more of me to knock some items off the to do list. I come from a legacy of large families. My grandfather was one of ten children, my mom is one of seven, and I myself have four kids. It seems to me that Murphy’s Law comes in to play quite often in my life to rattle my carefully laid scheduling plans. Google calendar has nothing on God, and I think He may get a chuckle out of seeing my carpool schedules and lesson plans brushed aside with one quick toss of a monkey wrench. Inevitably, it seems that no matter which of my four children I am attending to, I am somehow neglecting the other three. To make it to my older son’s track meet, I had to miss my youngest’s music concert. Doing my daughter’s hair for her photo shoot meant that I couldn’t make it down to the tball game. Staying up late helping my son study for a geology test means I forgot to pack lunches for his sisters. It’s a never-ending juggling match and I constantly feel like the balls are dropping.
My mom shared some insight on this topic straight from my great-grandmother, C-Mama, who was mother to ten. When asked who her favorite child was, C-Mama would reply “the one who needs me most.” This became an ever-changing rise and fall in priority of each of the ten children based on their respective successes and failures. Yet each of those ten children felt loved, valued, supported, and mothered.
I reflected on this same philosophy within the dance studio as I have often been accused of having “favorites.” To an outsider, I suppose that the favorite is the one who gets the role or is featured in some way. The truth is, a choreographer is very selfish in their vision and no amount of favoritism has ever affected my decision-making. As an artist, I have a vision in my head of what my dance should look like long before it takes shape on stage. The dancer who makes that vision come to life in front of me is who is chosen. Period. Favorites don’t play a role.
I do, however, have favorite dancers. Sometimes it’s the little girl who wipes away tears and still comes out to dance. Another day it is the teenager who started dancing later in life, knows she isn’t as good as those around her, and shows up to class anyway. It has been a girl whose parents are going through a divorce and dances out pain in class. It’s the soloist who forgets on stage, but doesn’t run off. Some days it is the pre-teen who stops to tie a little girl’s shoes, or the dancer who rushes to help an injured friend carry her books. These are all my favorites.
As a teacher, each of my dancers needs something from me, and it can be an overwhelming task to meet the needs of the hundreds of dancers I see each week. This one needs alignment correction, that one needs to strengthen her ankles, this one is ready to move on to multiple turns, but that one needs to fine-tune her singles. Whatever one needs may seem to come at the expense of another and there is never enough of me to go around. Yet with gentle pushing, continued support, and a constant focus on love and respect, I believe that they all get what they need. Much like those ten rowdy kids my great-grandmother wrangled, they all feel loved, valued, supported, and mothered.
With that in mind, next time I am accused of having a favorite, I can smile with confidence and say “I most certainly do. The dancer who needs me the most.”