I can’t help but think of my original ballet teacher on Teacher Appreciation Day.
I was only 16 years old when I walked into ballet class for the first time. I was like a deer in the headlights that day when I entered the small studio on the top floor of Fort Decatur Recreational Center, a part of me wanted to bolt back through the door when the thought of being the only boy trying to dance in a room full of teenage and preteen girls began to sink.
Her name was Sherrie Siebert and she was the reason I didn’t head for the hills, but stayed through the entire class, danced for about three more years and eventually returned to ballet at the very old age of 39.
She gave a short pep talk at the beginning of class about how boys belonged in ballet as much as girls, and how much ballet needed male dancers. I came to realize that day it was as much a deer in the headlights moment for the girls as well, since they’d never danced in a class with a boy, either.
Madame Seibert (she was actually a young woman in her 20s) instilled a love for ballet in me that remains to this day thanks to the wonderful teachers I’ve had since I returned to ballet like Vicki B., Susan K. Mr. and Mrs. O.
She ended up having to move away after my first year of taking ballet because of family reasons. I’ve often wondered whatever happened to her, and I wish I could tell her how much I appreciated what she meant in my life.
She made ballet fun. And she cared about her students at a really crucial time in our lives.
I don’t know if many people realize how important a teacher’s attitude is on that first day of ballet class as to whether or not a person comes back for a second class, or even a lifetime of dance.
I think it’s especially true for a boy trying a ballet class for the first time, considering the stigmas that unfortunately haven’t gone away in this day and age.