The hearts of Danceworks’ staff were apparent yesterday as we said our farewells to our wonderful Communications Manager. Hannah Pardee is moving on. This is part of the dance and as dancers we know one thing is certain: when you make an entrance there will be an exit. But you leave with the hope that those who have witnessed your performance will be transformed by effortless beauty, strength, and grace.
We were, Ms. Hannah. We are going to miss you.
A new season is in the air and it was evident as we all shared a meal together at Bel Air alongside the river yesterday. A breeze off the water caused me to pull up my collar and left us all shivering. Everyone, I noticed, except Hannah.
I have experienced firsthand over the years Hannah’s uncanny ability to make “the dance” look effortless as she has grown the awareness of the impact of our mission throughout the community. She has kept people in the know about what we have going on 24/7. She has exhibited perseverance, gentleness, and true grace.
We are all grateful for what she has done to improve our communications internally and externally. (What is more important in business than that?) She is the one I would often go to for inspiration. “What words need to be written, Hannah?” She was never too busy to ponder, to listen, and offer thoughtful feedback.
And she was the one who inspired the idea for this new blog series. what it means to “dance through”. We are going to share stories and lessons dance teaches far beyond the stage and classroom. I couldn’t let her go without asking her what lesson she will take away with her.
So, Miss Hannah, (I really am blinking back tears here) what lesson has dance taught you?
Hannah: “Before I started at Danceworks, I definitely wouldn’t have considered myself a dancer—I still don’t, but I do have a newfound appreciation for the way my body moves, for its strength and grace (and even for its weakness and clumsiness, at times).
Being a Danceworker has taught me to move through challenges with that strength and that grace, to “dance through” my imposter syndrome and insecurities about being a non-dancer in a dance organization. While I may never be a professional dancer, Danceworks has taught me that we are all movers, and has helped me keep both my body and mind active and challenged, for which I am forever grateful.”
There are no non-dancers.
The dance is within us all. We know that it is ever changing, ever evolving, ever becoming. We carry it within us. I find myself referring to it all the the time—the words, conversations written and spoken that move and flow with beauty, spreading grace not unlike a passionate adagio, a spirited allegro, or a soothing waltz that inspires others. Words, like prayers—conceived, spoken, written—have for me, become “the dance”.
What does it mean to you? Is there a lesson you can share? Something that will inspire someone else to dance through life with grace? Don’t keep it to yourself. Allow the dance to lift us up above life’s demands and cares…one step at a time. In the words I will always remember from one of our 6th grade gentlemen, “You should try it, it will change your life.” It certainly changed mine, and continues to.
When I sent the question What Lesson Has Dance Taught You? around to staff, there were so many great answers, you’ll have to stay tuned. But here’s a sneak peak of the next story with our Director of Engagement Kim Johnson:
Kim Johnson: I clearly remember the day my first dance teacher said, “Always trust yourself and don’t change your instinct to follow the crowd. Many times, it’ll be you who is doing it correctly.” As a teacher, I see this happen all the time—someone goes for a movement, others change what they were originally going to do and follow, and the one dancer that doesn’t adjust is doing the movement correctly.
Trust yourself. Dance has reinforced this time and time again in my life. Trust that although you might not get it the first, second, or even third time, you will, perseverance pays off. Trust yourself to make it work, even when you miss a step—it was only a moment—and you’ll get back on track. Trust your instinct. When you move, you are connected to your body. Embrace that connection, check in, be quiet, and listen. Trust when you feel something is right.
So, all of us at Danceworks welcome you to the new season! Maybe you’re feeling a little stressed, in need of a little strength, or maybe just some plain grace? You’ve landed in the right place!
Photo: Jolie Collins, Office Administrator; Debrasha Rogers, Finance & HR Manager; Dani Kuepper, Artistic Director; Hannah, me, Maryann Walbert, Front Desk Manager
Welcome to the Danceworks blog, where we're hoping to share a little bit more about the heart and soul behind Danceworks… what made us join the dance and keeps us dancing, what keeps us inspired, and where we can share some of the stories worth telling.