Confusion, chaos and curiosity are the words to describe the first day of my dance class. As Ms. Marja, my dance teacher, walked into the studio, all the dancers seemed anxious. Nobody knew why she was there or what she was doing. At the age of ten, I remember her walking in with a beaming smile, but I also remembering being nervous.
Ms. Marja is 5’3” and shorter than most of the students she teaches; however, her energy and strength tower over everyone in the room. She is currently a mother, wife and the owner of Elation Dance Center. Like every other person, she faces struggles and hardships, but she never lets this affect her attitude in the studio…and this is something I admire about her. Since day one at the studio, she has continued to end every class with “Thank you, and have a nice day.” She makes sure to show her gratitude for her students and to end every day on a positive note.
As we continue to grow together, she puts both feet fully into every situation that comes her way. She taught me about all aspects of life, including how to communicate in an effective way, grow personally, and improve my physical and mental health. She is like a mother figure, making every moment a teaching moment.
Ms. Marja begins each year with team-building activities and warm-ups. She involves the whole class, creating chemistry. She stresses how dance is not just about the technique and hitting, but that it’s also about the life experiences I carry with me for the rest of my life.
Community is a focus at our studio. Her company group of dancers, which I am in, performs at festivals, cancer benefits, and nursing homes. I feel positive giving back to others. This allows me to make a difference in people's lives. Having opportunities like this shows our passion for dance and Ms. Marja goes out of her way to make these experiences possible for us.
Ms. Marja gives each one of her dances new opportunities each year and goes above and beyond to make sure that each person feels welcomed and takes pride in what they do.
I have never met a more dedicated, humble and selfless person. This is why I call her my favorite teacher. Thank you, Ms. Marja, for teaching me that dance is more than just a sport, it is a place that I can be myself and be challenged to new opportunities and experiences.