A Time to Tap

My favorite tap shoes.

My favorite tap shoes.

A million moons ago I taught tap.

I was the kid in middle school and high school who was always in dance classes.  I was the kid who kept taking dance classes even as other students dropped out.  I was the kid who competed in dance.  I was that kid.

My specialty was tap.  I loved tap dancing – the rhythm, pace, sounds – all of it.  And I was pretty good at it.

In my 20s, I was approached by a friend to teach tap at her studio.  I was a young pup, and with my schedule, it was easy and fun.  I taught for her for quite a few years, but when I was pregnant with our second son, I was put on bed rest.  I wasn’t allowed to teach tap – or do much of anything for that matter.  After Squishy was born, I did not go back to teaching tap.  I really didn’t miss it that much.  My hands were full with a three-year-old and a newborn.

But, in the summer of 2012, I was approached by a former dance student of mine named Lacey.  She was in her second year of running her own dance studio, and wanted to talk to me about a few things.

I stopped in and she sat me down and asked me to teach tap for her.  She said all of the right things to convince me to teach: that I was enthusiastic, that she looked up to me, that I was a great tapper and that I was hilarious.

She played the funny card.  I was hooked.

I taught classes at the studio all last year, and realized that, yes, I did kind of miss it.

At first, the mirrors were daunting.  I wasn’t used to seeing my full self in floor to ceiling mirrors.  Do you know what this can do to someone’s self esteem?!  Scary times!  Those mirrors helped motivate me lose weight.  Really.

I also wasn’t used to tapping for three to four hours in a night.  After teaching angelic high school students English all day, tapping until the sun was in bed was a hard transition for me.

Recital time!

Recital time!

But I did miss a few things about teaching dance. First, I missed the kids and how entertaining they were.  Fixing hair bows and tying tap shoes and consoling little girls who missed their mommies was something I was not accustomed to being a mom of boys.  I also missed the thrill of seeing their dance steps finally click – those “I got it!” moments.  I missed choreographing and perfecting recital dances.  But what I missed most of all was me.  I know it sounds strange, but all the memories flooded back about how much I loved tap dancing and who I was when I was knee deep into shuffles, flaps and wings.  I had found a part of me that was lost; a part I truly missed.

Teaching tap again has made me a better person.  It amazes me how life can be a series of reinventions, but sometimes it is important to look back to help remember, reflect and refine today.  Dance does that for me.

My flowers from the recital and my happy dance-teacher face!

My flowers from the recital and my happy dance-teacher face!

On the day of the recital, I told Lacey how important the year of teaching for her had been.      I told her how I found a piece of myself I thought may have been lost forever.  I thanked her for what she had given me – a chance to find a hidden side of myself I had thought was long gone.

She said these words to me: “You made my year special and memorable. I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you.”

Maybe we all find ways to find ourselves.

Gotta love the dance.

26 thoughts on “A Time to Tap

  1. What a sweet, awesome post.

    I tried to teach myself tap in the basement via “I hate to exercise but I love to tap.” It was soooo fun. Then it got cold and I didn’t go into the basement anymore. I am so lazy. Will you teach me how to tap? 🙂

  2. I didn’t know you danced. How cool. Must have felt great to get back to tapping. My sister-in-law is a professional dancer in Minneapolis. She went from being in shows to running her own studio and producing (and dancing in) her own shows. She’s done everything from ballet to tap to jazz. I envy you dancers. I’m only allowed to do it in the privacy of my own home…

  3. Ah, dancing. I miss it too but it’s not tap but ballroom for which I require a partner. This form of dance is the perfect workout while loads of fun.

    Good for YOU for taking the opportunity when it dropped in your lap. Nice to have some of your old life back. 🙂

    • It is nice! I love ballroom dancing – I wish I would good at it! I took one class and I giggled through it (more because I didn’t really know the guy I was dancing with). Maybe I should take another class in it – with my husband this time! 😉

      • Yes, indeed. Take your husband and then you two can dance together without that giggly feeling you experience with a stranger. To be close, you should be close. Know what I mean? Enjoy your bird this Thanksgiving.

  4. What a lovely post and a great sentiment. I’m like Carrie, I envy all the dancers out there. It happens over and over again: I read that some adult *knew* their path as a kid. They loved to climb boulders and now they are a professional mountaineering guide, they built living room-wide lego cities and now they work as a civil engineer, etc. It’s just so amazing to remember what brings you joy. I bet those kiddos are very lucky to have you as their instructor. Good for you.

  5. That’s awesome! I’m glad you got back into teaching! I took some dance classes in high school, but no official, outside of school classes. I always wished I had started younger because I think I would’ve liked it a lot. I love watching people dance. Tap is so cool! I would love to learn.

  6. Oh, I am so impressed you have no idea. Tap dancing absolutely fascinates me and now I have an even more eager to need to fulfill my annual viewing of “White Christmas” though that is probably a super cliche thing to bring up right now!

    This line totally nailed it, all dancing and Christmas-Movie-References aside: “It amazes me how life can be a series of reinventions, but sometimes it is important to look back to help remember, reflect and refine today.”

  7. Thank goodness she played the funny card or you may never have reconnected with “dance you”. Isn’t it wonderful when you think you are totally on the receiving end of things and find out you gave just as much in return? I hope you will be able to keep your toe into tapping.

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