A Decade of Dance... It's My 10 Year Teaching Anniversary!
September is a time for celebration... it's the start of the fall season, my husband and I both share the month celebrating our birthdays, I begin a new session of classes and coaching, and I celebrate one more year of teaching dance.
This year, I am celebrating a DECADE of teaching!
In some ways, it feels like I have been teaching forever; it's hard to remember a time when I wasn't dancing, planning events, or in the studio (or elevator vestibule, or hallway, or airport, on video over Zoom, or any other location I've taught in ;) ).
But in other ways, it is crazy to me that the time has gone by so quickly and that it has already been ten years since I started this amazing journey.
Here's a look back at the last decade, from the early years of assisting other instructors and beginning to teach independently, through becoming a full-time fempreneur and the creation of Dancing With Patricia, all the way to the present moment, dancing with a new member of the family (my sweet baby James) in my arms.
It has been a wild ride, and I hope you enjoy looking back on the journey with me as much as I have enjoyed every releve, turn, and anchor step along the way.
In 2012, I was beginning my third year at the University pursuing a degree in English Education. During my first two years in school, I had become involved in, and then became an officer of, the dance club, learned all that I could, took classes at a local studio, and attended pop up events as they occurred nearby. At that time, my experience was in social styles of ballroom, Latin, and east coast swing. I recognized how much I loved my new favorite hobby and that I wanted to combine that with my passion for teaching, so I began assisting in private lessons and group classes, offering a few lessons of my own where I could find time between my classes and other campus jobs. My best friend (now husband, Jarrett!) had been teaching dance for nine years at this time, and had actually been my first teacher, and we began teaching together semi-regularly. (More on that story HERE)
For the remainder of my college career, I taught lessons in lead-follow to fellow college students as well as couples wanting to learn to dance for their own weddings or to attend family members' weddings.
Looking back, 2012 was a pivotal year... not only did I begin teaching the dance styles that I had already become familiar with, but I was also introduced to the modern style of west coast swing. I soon fell in love with West Coast Swing; this would become a huge part of my dance career a few years later.
When I graduated college in 2014, I knew that as much as I loved teaching in the traditional classroom and loved English - working with students in literature and writing - this was not the career path for me. I began a full-time administrative position at the university, which kept my nights and weekends available to expand my classes and private lesson offerings. Choreography became a new aspect of my teaching... in 2014 "Thinking Out Loud," by Ed Sheeran was released, and Jarrett and I choreographed at least three different routines to that song over the next year!
In November of that year, I traveled to my first west coast swing convention in Seattle, Washington. Prior to this event, I enjoyed teaching and dancing, but that weekend is when my fire for west coast swing truly ignited!
From 2014 to 2017, I dove head first into being a wandering westie (traveling west coast swing dancer and competitor). In between conventions, teaching made up a majority of my "free" time, working with more wedding couples, partnering with local venues to offer lessons and special events, getting involved with a local non-profit dance group, and creating full event weekends with workshops and activities.
Here is a highlight reel of some of the fun we have had through the years!
Workshop weekends with Champion Manny Viarrial to bring west coast swing education to the local community.
Women's Westie Weekend, with professional dancers Alyssa Glanville, Tracy Staten, and Lia Brown. WWW is an event designed not only to focus on elevating dance in the community and catering to the followers' needs, but also to encourage camaraderie among the women in the community.
Dancing With the Big Sky Stars was an annual dance-based fundraiser for a non-profit organization in the community, and I loved working with brand new dancers each year to create their spectacular performance debuts, while raising money for a cause.
Wedding Fairs allowed me to meet so many wonderful couples and families, and create wonderful memories in the studio teaching lead-follow and choreographed routines of so many different styles. Enjoy Gillette and Justin's wedding routine!
Running the juniors (dancers 17 and under) at Rose City Swing was an amazing experience where I had the opportunity to work with juniors from around the country, coordinating their weekend experiences at the convention, and teaching a routine throughout the weekend for them to perform in the Saturday evening show
The SwingKidz youth program is one of my favorite classes to run, teaching young dancers from age three on up, working with them on learning west coast swing lead-follow, choreography, and solo movement. In SwingKidz, we also participate in service projects and perform for the local community, occasionally having the opportunity to travel to national events (Boston Tea Party 2017, Rose City Swing 2018-2020)
Twice annual studio performances - SwingKidz Extravaganza in December and DWP Showcase in the Spring - showcasing the hard work and dedication of dancers as young as three all the way through adulthood
Teaching and performing the International Rally WCS since 2015 (Our 2022 dancers HERE)
Training dancers for competition, from local Big Sky State Games to the Rising Star division at Midwest Westie Fest. (Omar Taylor and Ruth Laci competition 2019 HERE)
And this doesn't even touch the tip of the iceberg of all the individuals, couples, groups of friends, school groups, professional development retreats, and many, many more with whom I have had the opportunity to work over the years.
In 2020, Jarrett and I moved from Montana to Williamsburg, Virginia, where DWP has continued to morph and grow, currently teaching a majority of classes and private lessons at CB Dance Studios in Yorktown.
I've danced on dry land in conventional studios from coast to coast, and with my sea legs on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, performed at local fundraisers and national conventions, and even terrified my dance partner with a dance along the rim of the Grand Canyon...
My mornings have been filled with coffee and working digital designs and social media posts; my days filled with everything from yoga stretches, isolation drills, and flying in the air teaching lifts; and my late nights have seen me gluing one rhinestone at a time onto shows and costumes and sewing costumes from scratch when ordering one online wouldn't make it in time for the performance...
With all of the beautiful memories created and friendships new and old that have bloomed over the last decade, I can't even begin to imagine all of the excitement in store for my dance journey in the decade to come.
Teaching has been more rewarding than I could have dreamed when I started on this path, and I could not have had half as much fun if not for the support of the communities that have embraced me and the individuals who have trusted me with their dance education. Thank you to every one of you - whether you have not yet taken a class but have followed this journey and been a cheerleader, or if you have been taking lessons from me for years, your part in this journey is so greatly appreciated - I wouldn't be where I am without YOU!
Here's to the next decade of making memories...