My husband and I both graduated from the university in 2002, we were married just off campus in 2003, and our kids learned to punch in the air and spell M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D right around the time they also learned to walk. We are back on campus often as season ticket holders for three different sports teams, and we love our alma mater.
I am also a proud alumna of the Dance Department at the University of Maryland College Park.
A dancer from the age of six, I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Dance and had aspirations of teaching after graduation. While many of my fellow classmates went on to teach at the high school level or at various studios, others went on to perform and are still doing that to this day. Some are traveling the world performing and it is a joy to watch. I love following their work and the work of their students now.
As I often say, life took me other places. I went back later to work at the university in two different departments, got married, left to go work for the local public school system, though not as a Dance teacher. Soon I was a mom and once our second child was born my husband and I both knew that we wanted for me to be home with them full-time, something that is the both the hardest and yet the most rewarding profession in the world.
However, all of that movement and body mechanics knowledge from my years as a dancer never left me. Just as Jane Eyre answered St. John Rivers when he asked, "What will you do with you accomplishments? What- with the largest portion of your mind- sentiments- tastes?"
"Save them till they are wanted. They will keep."
Today, the creativity needed to be a choreographer is channeled through being a author. Many dances have a beginning, middle, and an end just like narratives do, and I now just tell different stories. However, one of the biggest places that I use so much of what I learned as a dancer is as a sports mom and a coach's wife.
We use the same 206 bones and hundreds of muscles (exactly how many depends on how you count them) to do an arabesque as well as pitch a fastball or shoot a layup. While my husband is the coach, I am always on the sidelines observing. I can tell by the little ways a kid's gate has changed that they are probably hurt and afraid to say something. By whispering that to my husband so he can encourage a break, everyone's body and ego remains intact. We can sit and watch the Baltimore Orioles make a running catch and a sideways throw to first and point out to my kids, "Do you see how he planted his foot? Doing that, along with a strong core, is how he made that play." When kids are struggling with batting, I can both see and respond to the fact that they are off balance and give them (or tell their coaches what they need to do) tips on how to set themselves better.
I'm sure there are people out there who think I am completely wasting my degree because it has been years since I have put on a pair of pointe shoes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Education is never wasted. Having a solid understanding of the working mechanics of the human body can be translated into everything from dancing to dribbling a basketball to understanding why many babies crawl backwards before they crawl forwards. Being well read allows me to to do things like sneak a Jane Eyre reference into this article. Educating yourself on history and world cultures keeps you from being swayed by propaganda, something that is vital during times like election seasons.
Educate yourself. Learn something today you didn't know. Read a book you had never heard of yesterday. Teach your kids to code, but also take them to the ballet.
None of it is ever wasted.
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