Letha’s Message to Parents…
Teaching children the joy of movement is what I love to do. Since I was a very young child it was my dream…and it is only through God’s grace I was able to do so. I was born bilaterally club footed and severely bilaterally inverted or “pigeon-toed.” I went through many medical procedures and am forever grateful to the late Dr. Patello who got me walking and dancing. Each time I look at my tiny “casts” in which my once tiny feet fit into, I am amazed and thankful to God for my abilities. It is because of this that I never take the gift of dance for granted. I try to give my best by continuing to educate myself through reading, videos, master classes, teacher’s conventions and pilates training. I am especially proud of my children’s program as well as the solid & well-rounded technical foundation I have given to several dancers who have also pursed a dance career. I am grateful to the excellent teachers and mentors who have inspired me to “think out of the box,” and contribute to the art of dance.
Many of my lesson plans are the culmination of over 30 years of teaching children’s dance classes, evaluating and reevaluating…and for this reason I know they work. It is amazing how each year I have dancers remind me of a particular lesson saying “can we please do the alligator game, stone fairy, or watch me wiggle like a ribbon.” If it is one thing that I share with you about teaching young children it is that you must still be able to tap into the young “child” within yourself, and see and feel through their eyes and hearts. If a child sees me smile and giggle, pretend to “fly,” senses my confidence, and feels my warmth, he/she will thrive in a dance class. Praise, adoration, playful structure and creative thinking time is what they all want and need during these years…and especially in the fast paced world. Many children are in sensory “overload” and will benefit greatly from a physical outlet such as dance. Moving the body rhythmically to good music or simply breath is therapeutic not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Dance Movement is something all children can benefit from and need especially with art, music and physical education classes sometimes being eliminated entirely in our schools.
I am a dance educator, and therefore I have an important responsibility to help shape bodies and minds. One of my biggest contributions is allowing them to discover how wonderfully they are made and to help them stretch their bodies and minds in order to become healthier and stronger individuals. I am blessed to be teaching, and I do believe as Graham did that dance is a celebration of that miracle – the body. I always take this role seriously, being ever mindful of how my words as well as the curriculum and choreography I teach can be powerful things in both positive and negative ways. Truly, teaching for me is like a prayer – a daily devotion to continue learning, striving for excellence and sharing my knowledge and passion for dance. It is a great privilege to share my joy of movement with children of all ages!