In the nearly 10 years I’ve been with Ms. Jana, we’ve been through a ton together. In our first studio at Lenore Smith’s, she got me my first role in the Moscow Ballet Nutcracker as a little snowflake. She then continued to teach me as we went all around town, literally dancing in places that include the street, closets, waiting rooms, on broken grocery store tiles in a disgusting dance studio on the east side of town, in the building right above Dagny’s, in a belly dancing studio next to a construction site, and finally, in her own backyard, where Gloria the Chicken used to sit in the window and watch ballet class. Yes, all of this has taken place, no over-exaggeration.
In those years, I watched her grow to be the teacher she is today, and she’s watched me grow from a teeny-tiny baby to the young dancer I’ve become. She finally convinced my Mom to put me in the Royal Academy of Dance Exams, and I started in Grade 3. I got my very first certificate with my very first distinction. That’s when I decided that this was what I wanted to do, and I’ve done it ever since.
Ms. Jana is not great because she’s gotten me five distinctions and two high merits. She’s not a great teacher because of her skill level, although both these things are part of it. She’s a great teacher because she will stand beside you every single day and build you up. When you’re feeling frustrated and you break down in the middle of class, she’ll get up and give you a hug. She’s a great teacher because she’ll walk with you to the end of your journey.
She tells me often that she believes in me, that she’s proud of me, that she often thinks about what will happen after my RAD journey is over. Well, now it’s my turn.
Ms. Jana, I believe in you. I always have, and I always will. I’ve always believed that you can help me fulfill my dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, and I still do. You’ve stood beside me for all these years in all my frustrations with dance and life and whatever else has happened. One day I may be in a company, and I’ll be doing something in class that will remind me of you. I’ll see something another teacher or dancer does, and I’ll think of you. I’ll be sitting in class with some amazing teacher and think, “Jana’s still the best.” Thank you for standing beside me, for continuing to stand beside me, in all the craziness of both our lives. Thank you for giving me the journey of a lifetime. I’m so proud of you, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Happy Birthday Ms. Jana. I hope it’s the best one you’ve ever had.
Love Your Most Faithful and Hard Working Student 😉
Sung Eun Rose
P.S. To my readers who are dancers, go and thank your teachers. You don’t have to give them a gift or a card or a gift card, but go up to them, look them in the eyes, and say thank you. It’s the least you can do for everything they do for you.