There comes a moment when you know that you have been accepted into what I call “The Studio Family.” When your lesson gets hijacked.
What’s a hijacked lesson? It’s when another teacher takes over your lesson. One step up from the “backseat teacher.”
Lately, this has been happening quite a bit to me. Recently I pointed this out to one said hijacker, who happily admitted to it, sparking this piece. But when I first began at the studio, I barely spoke to the other teachers, and in turn, aside from a dance or two at the studio socials and the general greeting, they left me be. Even when they were around during my lessons, it was my teacher they spoke to. Six months there and I was convinced one of them hadn’t even learned my name yet.
Logically speaking, that’s just plain etiquette. It’s not your lesson and not your student. You don’t want to step on another teacher’s toes, or make it seem like you are trying to “steal” their student. And you don’t have the rapport with that student. You don’t know their dance goals or their temperament. It would be so easy to chase someone else’s student off. It’s best to just let every student to the teacher they chose.
So how do you go from “you stay in your dance lesson and I’ll stay in mine” to “Wait, I’m just dying to fix this one thing. It’ll just take a second.” Well, it’s a slow shift. It started with one teacher tapping his chin or pulling his shoulders back whenever he noticed my posture slipping. In time it escalated to “backseat teaching,” calling out advice as I warmed up and practiced or was in the middle of a lesson. Another instance, while waiting for my teacher and her student, a different teacher asked if I had any dance questions that would be easier to ask a woman. After a short pause, I plaintively told her “I’m not sexy!” sparking a ten minute crash course.
My teacher began to get in on it too. Wanting outside eyes and opinions, he’d ask them to watch our latest combo or routine run-through. Or he would ask one to perform a move with him so I could see how it was done, usually prompting them to stick around to see how I fared. In this time, I had also started taking other classes, and before I knew it, all the teachers were my teachers (whether I was paying them or not).
To everything, there are ups and downs to this. When I pointed out to the one teacher that she had hijacked quite a few of my lessons as of late she said something along the lines “of course I have! You need a woman’s perspective!” before giving me all the reasons I gave above about why she hadn’t before. And it’s true, as amazing a follow as well as lead my teacher is, there is a difference in what you take away getting instruction from a fellow woman. Sometimes you also just need an outside eye. There are things my teacher simply can’t pick up while dancing with me or having me pantomime it by myself. Or to just have another opinion to consider. And sometimes something that went completely over my head when my teacher said it makes perfect sense from another. It can also be flattering, when a teacher takes their time and effort to help you for no other reason than they want you to be better.
That being said, have you ever been ganged up on by three teachers at once? I have. It’s not really my definition of fun. I’ve also had my lessons take a total detour because we’re working on one thing, and they saw something else they really want fixed. And it can be frustrating when you’re in your groove with one teacher and another completely derails your train of thought. Other times my teachers just don’t agree, and I end up between them. Once or twice it wasn’t even for me my lesson was hijacked, mine coming to a halt as they needed my teacher for his advice.
But that’s just one way they say “Welcome to the family.”