At Sawyer we have the privilege of working with hundreds of inspiring educators around the country. Whether they teach virtual classes or in-person activities, the curricula always foster enriching atmospheres for children of all ages to discover their love of learning. We got the opportunity to chat with LA-based educator, Twinkle Toes Dance Company, an organization that is working to inspire the joy of dance in each and every one of their students.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! I’d love to hear a bit more about you and why you started your business.
I had been a dance educator for years but never found the right balance of education and creativity/play in the studios and schools I taught in. I decided to develop my own curriculum and rented a space in my community to teach classes to my daughter and her preschool friends. Within 6 months, I had outgrown my rental space and needed to find a home for Twinkle Toes.
Can you describe an inspiring moment you’ve had as an educator?
Watching my students onstage! The young dancers are so expressive and fearless, and I love that we played a small part in fostering this newfound love for dance. Then there are the students who used to be in my preschool ballet class and are now auditioning for the Nutcracker, going to Performing Arts High Schools, and winning dance competitions. They are ALL so inspiring and it is such a joy to watch them perform.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching children?
Children are innately creative and their passionate approach to everything they do is infectious. Watching them dance their hearts out during improv makes me want to jump in and dance with them, and often the parents feel the same way! Children have the best ideas - our students are active participants in TTDC curriculum and often spark ideas that influence dramatic play, imagery and creative movement.
What’s one time a child surprised you and made your day?
A few years back a 3 year old dancer came up to me before class and asked if she could audition for Clara, the lead in the Nutcracker. She had a whole audition planned and it was just amazing. Many years later, she is one of our company dancers and Twinkle Toes is basically her second home, and well on her way to dancing the role of Clara!
On a similar note, what’s the funniest thing a child has done in your class?
Often our dancers arrive in full character and ask the teacher and others to call them by another name for the day – typically it is things like “princess” or “mermaid” or a popular movie character. Recently we had a dancer request to be called “French Fry” and she was VERY serious about it. The whole class was a lot of “French Fry, first position please” and all of the other students jumped on board without skipping a beat. We all got through class with a lot of giggles and laughter.
Why is after school enrichment so important for children?
After school classes are so important to children because they help to educate the whole child - they build self confidence and help them team-building skills and how to be a part of a larger community. Enrichment programs are especially essential now as children have an increased need for social engagement as we all recover from the pandemic.
How do you think children can discover their passions when they’re not in school or your programs?
Absolutely! I think kids need to be outdoors as much as possible. There is so much organic inspiration in nature – dance like a bumblebee, compose music like the ocean, paint a beautiful forest, write a poem about a bird taking care of her babies. I take a ton of creative inspiration from nature in my curriculum and the kids are really inspired by it.