Guest Author: Becca Sutter
Here at ADC we teach dance to a multitude of young girls and even some boys. Growing up in the dance world I know what it is like to struggle with the insecurities and self doubt that these young students struggle with everyday. When you live in front of the mirror and your world is your body it is inevitable that there will be some criticism and negative self talk. As teachers of dance, we feel it is our responsibility to teach these girls to love and accept their bodies.
If there is anything that I learned over the past decade, it is that self acceptance is the only way to live with true harmony and happiness.
The dance world can be harsh. Dreams and hopes can be torn apart in a moment’s notice by the comment of an insensitive teacher, judge or even a fellow student. It’s time to take the negativity out of the beautiful art form that is dance. It’s time to teach awareness and self love to these young impressionable girls who are already surrounded by the images of Victoria Secret models and airbrushed celebrities.
The reality is that not everyone is going to be a professional dancer. Not everyone wants to be a professional dancer. That doesn’t mean one cannot enjoy learning the beauty and skills of dance in a safe and welcoming environment. To me and the instructors at ADC, it is more important to teach a class that will imbue the qualities of awareness and kindness to yourself and your body than executing a perfect pirouette. If a perfect pirouette happens...great! There are ways to achieve highly efficient technique in a positive and healthy way. It shouldn’t be a battle and it shouldn’t leave students deflated. Dance is meant to be enjoyed and the learning process should be enjoyable.
As a child, I was obsessed with perfection. I was caught in the comparison game and I had to be the best. If I saw a more talented dancer, I would shrink. This kind of thinking can make a dancer feel depressed and hopeless.
That is why it is so rewarding to be an instructor at ADC, we know the importance of teaching young girls that the height of your arabesque does not measure the quality of your heart. We teach the qualities of compassion and love. These kinds of qualities can and will change lives. They give meaning and purpose to our students.
Whether you teach math, soccer or ballet, these are qualities that can help any young student. As educators of children we have a responsibility to be completely present and aware for every child that may cross our path. Our words and actions hold power and they will be remembered.
I will never forget my ballet teacher who told me I would never make it if I weighed over 100 lbs. I’m 5’9”. I would be hospitalized if I weighed under 100 lbs. That irresponsible comment shaped my life for many years. She probably doesn’t even remember telling me.
As adults who influence young lives, we are acutely aware of what we say and how we teach. We know the power of our position and it is our goal to touch the lives of our dancers in ways that many not be considered traditional to dance education.
The world is full of our children. As adults, the words we say carry weight. We have a responsibility to truly be there for them, to practice what we preach and lead by example. Children will intuitively know if you have their best interest at heart and if your intentions are right and good.
As Mahatma Gandhi wisely said “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Let’s be the change, if not for ourselves than certainly for our youth.
“On my way to dance” means so much more than one might think. As a parent I am truly grateful that my daughter and son have gained so much from dance. I am not just bringing them to dance. I am bringing them to a place that makes them feel confident and welcome. A place where they can be themselves and be praised for it. I am bringing them to a healthier future. I am bringing them to a place that teaches them that dedication to each other and to themselves is important. A place where determination and hard work are rewarded. A place where following through on difficult tasks and being proud of the results is life affirming and the norm, not the exception. You might think I am just bringing my kids to dance but, no, I am doing much more. I am preparing them for a life that is satisfying and full of beauty and for that I drive them happily to every dance happening I can because I know they will enter adulthood with the skills that dance has given them and take the world by storm.
Dance sort of fell in my lap. It started as a fun once a week lesson that I used to fulfill my social and exercise requirements with my best friend at the time. What I hadn’t realized was how quickly I would fall in love with the art, and how fast my new friends would become my family.
This is my 11th year dancing at ADC. I started dancing here when I was 6. This studio has become my second home. The winter after the fall classes began, I joined the first ever ballet that the studio put on. It was then when I learned how much I loved ballet, and where I recognized dance would become more for me than my jazz class that met once a week. I signed up for a private lesson and performed my very first solo shortly after. The next year I entered the performance team and throughout the years that followed I made the best memories I have to date. I grew confidence that was beyond my years, a sense of commitment, and an intense passion for dedication that I carry with me today. I became a better person inside and out. Dance became to me more than the steps. It became engraved in my soul.
Soon after I began dancing at Artistic Dance Conservatory, the studio became my second home. It became the place I was most comfortable, the only place I wanted to be, and most of all the people became my family. I credit my love and passion to pursue this art to the faculty and amazing facility that ADC has provided me. We are all there for each other all the time. We attend competitions in hopes of building stronger bonds together. The staff and the students are always giving you the tools you need to grow as a dancer and even as a person. They will show you the correct way to execute steps and give helpful critiques to help your dancing grow. They always give the best opportunities for their students by suggesting workshops and summer programs. I am so happy that I am able to spend my time with all these inspirational people.
Today, I see dance and ADC as a shaping part of my past and an even more prevalent part of my future. As I begin my college auditions and applications, I am enlightened to see how prepared ADC has made me. As college approaches in the fall, and I begin my first semester as a BFA student, I will never forget what my family at the studio has taught me, and the artist it has turned me into. I am forever grateful for Artistic Dance Conservatory and everyone there who has helped me shape my future.
-- by Natalie (’15) and Karly (’14)
It’s been four years, but I’m home.
I started training with Jenn and Becca the year ADC opened. I was 12 - braces and glasses clad, silent and unsure. What I did know was that nothing made me feel the way dancing did. For 6 years I was fortunate to study at ADC, absorbing a wealth of technical knowledge, nearly hours of choreography, and the foundations of artistry and performance. Through my high school years, ADC was my home. I liked to call it my “part time job”. It was the only place that I felt I could really just be. I know I’m tending towards the mushy here, but it’s true! I’m sure many of us can relate to the sentiment that high school wasn’t always the bee’s knees. But, at the end of my senior year, it was no longer a question – I was going to dance for the rest of my life.
Jenn suggested Connecticut College one Saturday afternoon during a private lesson. Thinking back, this small gesture means everything. It means she knew me more deeply than most at that point in my life. And man, it’s a good thing she proposed thatalliteration on that day. I practically began filling out the application supplement on my way home from my first visit to Conn. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for the array of training I’ve received so far between ADC, Connecticut College, Dance New Amsterdam and Bates Dance Festival. Daily, I’m thankful for my foundation. Who knows where my path would have led had I not stopped by “that new studio next to Arnold’s Meats” 10 years ago.
Spending my first post-grad year at my “high school home” is perfect. Teaching and performing is what I adore, and I’m lucky enough to do both at a place I love. I just can’t say enough about ADC, its faculty, and its facility. Being on the other side, facing the students, glasses and braces clad, is just where I want to be.
Welcome to the first ever ADC blog. We are working on our 11th year here at Artistic Dance Conservatory and still going strong. It has been a wonderful ten years at ADC and the school has been blessed with an amazing staff that gives their hearts to dance, a school that has had immense growth, and support from the dancers and dance enthusiasts.
I am Jennifer Gamache-Dubilo, the president of ADC and I began dancing at age two. Flash forward to many years later and dance was very important to me. It kept me active, it introduced me to lifelong friends, it allowed me feel everything and express it on the dance floor. I think it was and will forever be cathartic for me. As I exited those teen years I found that when I choreographed I was able to create that same feeling and freedom for others.
When I taught others to dance I saw a light that I knew would always be there to lead them in whatever life brought their way. That beacon of light was a bundle of things like discipline, health and wellness, friendship, exposure to social issues, charity, empathy, and confidence. This drove me to start ADC.
But enough about me, I decided to start this blog so that everyone could see and feel and hear how passionate we at ADC are about dance. Our hope is to share ideas, videos, and thoughts about movement, health and wellness, dance, and more. In addition we want you to hear, and see, and feel some the things our dancers learn in class. My wish is that you, our blog audience, will be as passionate about Artistic Dance Conservatory and dance as we are.