Giving Thanks

Published on November 26th 2020 by Hillary-Marie

This time of year in the U.S., is Thanksgiving time. 

I’m not really one for holidays, I’m one of those “make every day a holiday” type of people. And while this holiday is rooted in Native American genocide, for which I’m disgusted in, it is an annual reminder in American culture to give thanks and gratitude for that which we have. 

I want to take a moment to share some love, thanks and gratitude. While this year has been a crazy one, I still find myself filled with gratitude and thanks for all that tap dance has brought me. 

I’ve got lots of love for my iTapOnline Members who give me the opportunity each and every single week to support them in their tap dance journey. It’s a dream come true to educate such passionate tap dancers and tap teachers all around the world. Together, we’ve built such a beautiful community of supportive and passionate tap dance lovers who are whole-heartedly dedicated to the continuation of their tap dance education. And I truly mean it, we’ve done it together. Because it’s the energy and the vibe of these iTapOnline Members that brings iTapOnline to life. So shout out to you my friends, you have my gratitude and thanks. 

Next, I have to give love to my students, at Grooves Unlimited Dance Studio in Livingston, NJ. This includes Groovers and FutureSTEP Tap Company members, you guys are amazing. These FutureSTEP dancers travel hours to and from rehearsal every single Sunday. They’re hungry, passionate, amazing, and I love mentoring them and being a part of their tap dance journey. And this year of all years especially, they stuck it out through COVID. From Zoom classes, to backyard quarantine music videos, to a live-streamed concert, to parking lot music videos, they were there, through all of it. They said yes. Their love of tap dance pushed them through four consecutive months of state mandated quarantine, and they never missed a shuffle. 

Next, I’m so thankful for my Team. You’ve heard me say it before, but they deserve to be celebrated regularly. And this year, this 2020 shit show, are you kidding me?!They stuck through the 18 hour filming days, editing days, website building days, those crazy first few months of COVID. They put themselves through the ringer, to do what they had to do to keep Grooves Unlimited going and to transition iTapOnline into a new format. Christina, David, Tori, Esi, Leanna, Caylia,you guys are amazing.  And shout out to our newest team members, Jess and Sarina, who have been rocking their jobs since day one when they joined over the Summer. You guys are amazing. 

I can’t talk Team without shouting out my business partner Shani, the other half of Grooves Unlimited Dance Studio. We’re in our 9th season together now. We’ve been through the ups and downs of studio ownership and nothing has tested our commitment to our vision and to our Groovers like this crazy COVID season. And we passed the test with flying colors! I’m lucky to have an amazing business partner to push through it with. 

As frustrated as I am with COVID and the impact it had on my business and my life as a small business owner, I’m thankful for the changes that COVID brought to my world. It was a reminder that nothing is permanent, and I’m thankful for that reminder. The effects of COVID pushed me to think smarter and faster. It pushed me to think completely outside of the box and reminded me to trust my gut. It reminded me of the important role that we as arts educators play in the lives of our students. It reminded me of the important role that we as studio owners play in our Team members live. It pushed me into a new level of leadership.  Many lessons learned. I can’t say I’m walking away unscathed, but I’m thankful for the lessons learned in the battle. 

Tap dance has given me so much in my life. It’s given me another language to communicate with. It’s brought beautiful people in my life, in the form of mentors, musicians, students, friends. It’s brought me so much joy, happiness, confidence, discipline, and it fills me with excitement every time I put my shoes on. 

I’m thankful each and every day for having been introduced to this beautiful art form, and I hope you take a moment to pause during this season of giving thanks, to reflect on everything that tap dance has given you.

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