Very Bad Teacher

This memory came to me the other day, when I was in my clowning workshop with the amazing Elizabeth Baron (so many memories/images/complexities/connections/understandings/revelations came to me while I was in my clown, whose name happens to be Milkshake, but this one seemed the most urgent, for some reason, to share):

Dancers (or at least the dancers I hang out with) tend to change their clothes right in the studio or rehearsal space without going to a locker room or bathroom.

When I was living in NYC, the studios and rehearsal spaces I was frequenting didn’t have any locker rooms, and the one bathroom was always taken, so everyone just changed, right there in the dance space.

No problem.

Dance pants came off after class or rehearsal, and work pants got put on as we chatted and caught up.

It was part of the culture, it was part of what I knew and experienced, day in and day out.

It was a habit.

I forgot that most people don’t tend to change their clothes in such a public setting.

One of the many jobs I had while living in NYC was teaching dance in the public schools.

I had just been assigned a job teaching creative movement to a kindergarden class in Brooklyn.

At my initial meeting with the principal of the school, I had rushed over from a dance class in Manhattan, and hadn’t had time to change out of my sweaty dance clothes.

I had a fresh pair of dance pants and a clean t-shirt in my backpack.

After shaking hands with the principal and introducing myself, I stripped off my old sweaty dance clothes, stuffed them in my backpack, and was pulling out a clean pair of pants, chattering away to her the whole time, when I happened to look up and see her face.

She was staring at me, with her mouth hanging open, gripping the side of her desk.

I looked down and realized I was standing in the principal’s office in my bra and underwear, casually chatting away about the importance of introducing movement based curriculum to kindergardeners.

Oh the shame!!!!

I think my whole body blushed.

I quickly covered myself up, pulled myself in, and sputtered an incoherent apology/explanation/reason for my near nakedness.

Needless to say, my explanation didn’t go over well, and I was asked to leave right then and there.

I arrived home to my apartment, highly embarrassed, but also a little bit curious at the way habits and customs collide.

The way comfort and knowing for one, maybe be highly unacceptable for another.

The way perception of an event is shaped by one’s own understanding of the world.

I still change my clothes in the dance space, but I make sure not to change them at anymore job interviews, company meetings, or public gatherings.

I learned my lesson the hard way.

Your dance missions for the week is to have a Thanksgiving Dance Party.

Before, after, during your dinner: Dance.

On the side, right in the middle, and out back with the moon: Dance.

In your underwear, or fully clothed.

You decide.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending