Last week we lost an amazing artist. Too many of our young people don’t know Prince the way we did…1999, Let’s Go Crazy, Little Red Corvette… no idea. The girls who have been dancing at In Sync for a while know him well because they have ALL danced to Prince’s music for years! It’s been the running joke at the studio that there isn’t a recital without a Prince song and we could run a whole recital with only the Prince songs we have used in the past! Mostly the “B” sides and songs you wouldn’t recognize – “Walk”, “The Rest Of My Life”, “It’s About That Walk”, “Thieves in the Temple”… amazing music for dancers…
When my phone started buzzing last week with messages from my former dancers, it really hit me how much Prince influenced how I wanted to dance and what I choreographed for my students. Dancers I haven’t heard from in years, who have moved across the country, moved on to motherhood, and grown up to be fantastic women – texting to share their memories of dancing to Prince and how they thought of me immediately. Something about that touched my heart. First, that they thought to text me at all – just to reach out and say “Hey, I know you loved him. I’m sorry – this is horrible.” Second, what an opportunity we have as teachers to expose our dancers to great artists. I was happy they got to dance to his music and experience the intricacies of those songs. And lastly, how the relationships we create with our students can truly last a lifetime. It touched me.
Then I read something online that one of Prince’s former elementary school teachers wrote. She submitted a letter to fellow educators that said, “I would like to share some thoughts about Prince that are relevant to us as educators. As a kid, Prince was short, shy and not remarkable looking. He wasn’t as popular a basketball player as his older half-brother. But he loved music and he pursued it relentlessly (sometimes skipping class to do it). Today is the perfect opportunity for us and our students to take another look at that person at school that we have underestimated. Look left, look right and look within and ask ourselves: how awesome would it be if this person found something that they really loved to do, worked at it, and shared it with others? You don’t have to be world famous to have impact.”
What an impact-full statement. He was short, not popular, not cute…he was a misfit.
I want to share this story for a few reasons.
- I love Prince. I’m super sad that I never got to see him in concert – I don’t know what I was waiting for but I am not waiting to do the things I really want to do anymore. (Just bought tickets to see Gwen Stephanie even though I am super busy and probably don’t have time…haven’t been to a concert in years and I’m going anyway.)
- I love the relationships dance has provided me. The fact that former students felt the need to connect with me after literally years had passed helped me to honor that. This is not a lonely job. It is FULL of love and friendships and I appreciate all of them.
- We are all misfits. Even Prince was a misfit. We, as teachers, parents, friends, and humans need to honor those misfits and give them a voice because I believe they will change the world. The perfect people do NOT change the world. The misfits do. So it’s ok. Be different and be proud.
Please, recognize the misfits in your life. Encourage your children to do the same. If there are misfits in your family – celebrate them. Prince was Prince because he was NOT like everyone else. It is the very thing that made him important. Misfits are the most important people we have and we need to let them know that. Celebrate the misfits like its 1999!
Pass it on…