Spontaneous hugs… chubby smiles looking up at me… little voices calling “Miss Jennifer!”. These are just a few of the visible blessings that my past week was filled with. Only 5 1/2 years ago I started teaching a small group of girls in my small town studio. About three years ago I began teaching classes in Omaha. Our first recital in the “big city” included 17 dancers, the next year grew to 37, and this year I was privileged to be “Miss Jennifer” to 46 girls ages 4-16. As my studio (and hopefully knowledge!) continues to expand I am just so amazed that God has brought me to this place of role model and teacher.
Recitals no doubt come with their share of stress and chaos. If it’s not dealing with a heart-stopping call about facility issues, it means trying to get a costume out of a shut locker, soothing pre-performance tears, or dealing with last minute costume confusion. And while I only spent about 11 hours in class each week leading up to recital, time on the road driving to classes came to 6 hours a week, and once you add in 57 hours in the studio choreographing dances plus all the preparatory work on those million little details… recital season is definitely a full time investment and demanding project.
Then in one evening, after 5 months of rehearsing and planning and ordering and measuring and calling and driving and printing and choreographing and emailing, it’s all over. An hour long performance and the year is already over. Will the audience remember it all? Was it worth it? If I had a horizontal perspective I would hesitate to pour such energy and work into something that ends so suddenly. But the exciting part about all this is that though the audience may only see a sparkly costume and just another dance to Tchaikovksy, the dancer sees months of teamwork, challenge, fun, and by God’s grace hopefully spiritual growth as well.
Am I, at nearly 21 years of age, really wise enough and mature enough to be entrusted with 46 pairs of eyes watching me and ears listening to me? I would venture to say “no”, if it were not for God’s grace and holy spirit working through me. What an honor, what a delight to have so many blessings to call my own! What a thrill to see my students with heads bowed in the wings before they go on stage, or to lead all 46 of my girls in prayer on their knees before the program. The actual performance lasts such a short time, but by God’s grace the impact can last for eternity.
Photo credit: Rachel Uleman