Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Miss Kathleen.

Tonight I want to tell you about my friend Miss Kathleen.  We met when I was 7, not too long after my family and I moved to Sugar Land.  I had the privelege of being friends with Miss Kathleen all the way through high school, and I am not sure if I can think of another person who has marked my childhood the way that Miss Kathleen has.

I spent almost every weeknight at the dance studio Kathleen owned.  I bounced around in different classes in elementary school, sometimes taking only jazz or tap classes, but by the time I got to 5th grade, I decided I wanted to do it all.  Every class there was- no matter how crazy it would be to fit everything in my schedule.  This meant my middle school and high school years were marked by quick changes into tights and leotards after cheer practice and doing all my homework up at the studio.   This also meant my mother driving me to class every Monday through Thursday and for this I am very grateful.  Because this was where I got to learn from Miss Kathleen- and she was the very best.

For those who do not know or care about dance, all of this may seem silly or trite, but Kathleen deserves all the praise in the world.  So I want to give it to her.  Kathleen was the best choreographer I have ever known.  No one else at the studio ever came close to creating the art that she created- and all with such ease and care.  More than that though, she was my teacher.  She taught me lyrical and Jazz until I was 17.  Those were always the nights I looked forward to the most- they were favorite classes because she was the best teacher.  Kathleen knew what I was good at- leaps and turns- and knew what I had trouble with- turnout and well always, always my turnout.  You see this studio was all about technique.  She cared about the little things and made sure that we understood the fundamentals.  We never competed and we only did a recital every other year, so that we would have a year off to get back to the basics.  While everyone else was glam and glizty and doing quadruple pirouettes, we were getting down to the nitty gritty stuff and only allowed to do double pirouettes because "they are the only ones that are ever clean."  Kathleen always wanted to make us better, but she never dwelled on our imperfections.  Instead, she found what we were good at and focused on those.  I think almost every leap I would do she would say "looking good Anna."  Of course, when we would work on turnout it was a different story. But I never doubted that she believed in me- because she told me.  Out loud.  And often.

Most of all though, she loved Jesus with her whole heart.  Just as she taught us 8 counts and bar exercises, she taught us how to run after the one who made us.  She cultivated in me a love for dance, teaching me that what I was creating was important to God.  And not only was it important, it was a way to worship Him.  She was rare, Miss Kathleen.  And after 56 years, and a battle with cancer, she got to meet Jesus face to face today.  Even though tears are streaming down my face, they are tears of joy because when I think about Miss Kathleen I keep thinking of one word. Freedom.  A dance that is beautiful and uninhibited.  Just like Miss Kathleen.