by Janet Neidhardt
It’s summer time and I’m ready to DANCE! Every summer I take advantage of the free time I have to dance for myself. As a dance educator it is very difficult to find time during the school year to take classes. I always start the school year optimistic that I will have time to take at least one dance class a week. However, as the school year continues, and the late rehearsals begin, I find myself missing that class for me.
But in the summer it’s a different story.
During the summer I take as many dance classes and workshops as I can find. I love being a student once again. It’s a great feeling to be pushed more physically and mentally. I love realizing that I still have so much further to grow as a mover and I hope that desire to expand my own body awareness never dies. When I teach a dance class it’s not about giving a class that is demanding for myself but rather demanding for my students. When I step into the teacher role I have to approach movement from a different perspective as opposed to when I am the student. It’s because of this that I relish being challenged as a student of dance whenever possible.
I also keep a journal of the new elements about dance and movement that I discover over the summer so that I can incorporate these into my teaching the following school year. My students are always present in my mind and so when I learn something new I automatically think about how I might want to communicate or teach this new idea to them in the future. When my students here me discuss classes that I take it shows them that we never stop learning a growing in the art of dance and movement. In this way I try to lead by example.
Whether I’m taking ballet, modern, or some new style of movement that I am not familiar with, I feel refreshed and recharged taking the time to focus on me. I find it very important that I continue to develop my own dancing skills and exposure to various styles so that I can further develop my students. Teachers should stay constant learners themselves so as to stay interested in their subject as both an educator and a learner. Being surrounded by old and young dancers, I’m reminded all of the time how wonderful it is to dance every day!
Contributor Janet Neidhardt has been a dance educator for 10 years. She has taught modern, ballet, and jazz at various studios and schools on Chicago’s North Shore. She received her MA in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and her BA in Communications with a Dance Minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout her time in graduate school, Janet performed with Sidelong Dance Company based in Winston-Salem, NC.
Currently, Janet teaches dance at Loyola Academy High School in Wilmette, IL. She is the Director of Loyola Academy Dance Company B and the Brother Small Arts Guild, and choreographs for the Spring Dance Concert and school musical each year. Janet is very active within the Loyola Academy community leading student retreats and summer service trips. She regularly seeks out professional development opportunities to continue her own artistic growth. Recently, Janet performed with Keigwin and Company in the Chicago Dancing Festival 2012 and attended the Bates Dance Festival.
When she isn’t dancing, Janet enjoys teaching Pilates, practicing yoga, and running races around the city of Chicago