I graduated college with a degree in theater with an acting emphasis and a dance minor. Growing up I loved to dance and sing and naturally thought that I should go into performing. I had been on stage many times in dance recitals, competitions and school shows. It just seemed right.
Music and dance just flow through me. It is my outlet for expression. Anything that I feel comes out in a song or dance. I drive my kids nuts but I tell them, “This is who I am and I am proud of that!” They don’t realize that it has rubbed off on them. My four year old son and six year old daughter sing and dance around the house all the time as well. Just today I heard my son singing “Let it Go” and then somehow it changed into “Feliz Navidad”!
So all through my 20s I was a “Starving Artist”. I performed wherever I could. It was difficult but it was an experience I am so happy I had. It is true that you learn so much about yourself and life when you really have to work hard! I did have a lot of fun and was privileged to meet and perform with so many talented people in so many great theaters. I also taught dance, music and theater but at that point they were just jobs to supplement my performing career.
In 2000 my husband found a particular voice teacher in New York that he wanted to study with so in the fall of 2001 we packed up and moved. We arrived in NYC on 9/4/2001. Obviously that was a life changing experience for more reason than one. Life in NYC was a challenge after 9/11 but we plugged on. We tried to find temping or restaurant jobs but they were few and far between at that time. That was the first time I really thought, I teach, and I am good at it, that is what I should do.
I wrote 50 letters to every church and school on the upper west side asking for space to rent to teach and received 2 positive responses. One was at a YMHA in Washington Heights and the other was a Catholic school on the Upper West Side. This was the beginning of Mayer Arts!
The catholic school let me use their cafeteria after school once a week. There I taught preschool and elementary age students ballet, tap and jazz. One group of girls stayed with me the whole three years that I taught there. They were wonderful girls and also very talented.
One day we were practicing leaps across the floor. All the girls were really becoming very good at their technique. Their legs were straight and toes pointed. However young people aren’t finished developing muscle tone at this point so their leaps were not as powerful and high as they would be when they get older.
However I don’t just let them be content with that. I always stand by my students like a big cheerleader and shout, “Jump!”, “Whoo!” or “Push!” to get them excited. If they really push and try to jump as high as they can every time, this will help them build muscle strength so they can leap big.
There was one particular girl who caught on to everything very quickly. Her leaps were very graceful but I wanted them to also be powerful. I followed along side her and shouted, “Jump!” every time she leapt. All of a sudden, this small framed girl of 10 years old who always leaped with good technique and grace, but not as high as I knew she could, shot up and had the most beautiful and powerful leap she had accomplished up until that point. I got chills. I helped her accomplish that. It was at that point I knew. I am singer and I am a dancer but I am also a teacher! This is where I am meant to be!
I am not done with the theater. Whenever I walk into a theater I feel like I am home. I still take voice and dance lessons on a regular basis and keep one eye open for a performance opportunity. I know I am not finished yet.
However the dance studio, cafeteria or whatever space I am given to reach out to students and teach the performing arts is also home to me. I guess when you love something so much you just want other people to love it and share it with you!