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Eye of the Tiger

Dance teachers reunite

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(TRINITY COMPTON/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(TRINITY COMPTON/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(TRINITY COMPTON/EYE OF THE TIGER)

DANIELLE BENNETT

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While some friendships fail to make it past high school, the bond dance teacher Dawn Kenniston and dance director Pilar Steiner cultivated in their school years at Roseville High shows that others only grow stronger with time. Years after they initially met, the friends have reunited as teachers at Roseville High, co-teaching two of their three periods.

Though Kenniston initially taught at Roseville, she left her post before Steiner made her way back to the school. This year, both Kenniston and Steiner are teaching in the dance program they entered years ago, as students. The two originally met in the first advanced dance class offered at Roseville High, during Steiner’s junior and Kenniston’s freshman year.

“It was the first class, so the counselors didn’t know freshmen weren’t supposed to be in there,” Kenniston said. “I snuck in and they let me stay. I got to teach tap and she was really awesome at hip hop.”

The dance program tied Steiner and Kenniston together – even though they were in different grades. Steiner believes that the program forged their friendship and continues to do so for other students.

“I would say that being in this program, whether it was back when we danced here or now, it just becomes a giant family,” Steiner said. “It creates a really nice environment for family, so that in itself connected us and we kept in touch after we graduated.”

During their two years together as students, Kenniston and Steiner helped each other grow as dancers. Eventually, Patty Baker afforded both of them the opportunity to work as student choreographers, giving them the chance to learn from one another and gain an appreciation of each other’s expertise.

“We were in each other’s dances and always had a mutual respect for each other’s talents,” Kenniston said. “We’re different, we have different strengths, so it was always fun to compliment each other.”

Now that the two are teaching together, Kenniston and Steiner divide the labor of the classes they co-teach based off of their strengths. With about 80 students in the classroom, one teacher will take the lead so each has ample opportunity to help the students.

“Depending on the style, whatever her strengths are – in other words tap is her strength – she’s offered to head that up,” Steiner said. “In other situations I would be leading, so we kinda just share the wealth.”

By working as co-teachers, Steiner and Kenniston continue to learn from each other. Teaching, like dancing, has many styles, and by working together the two can determine which provides the best experience for their students. As it’s the beginning of the year, they are still deciding how best to teach the class.

“Right now, we are just kinda tag teaming back and forth because we have the same type of assignments, but I would do something this way and she’d do something this way,” Kenniston said. “So we’re trying ‘ok you teach this week you teach this week we’re gonna compare notes, take what we like, take the best of what we both have to offer.’”

Steiner believes Kenniston will help move the program in a positive direction, after going through the past couple of years with transitioning teachers and substitutes. According to Steiner, Kenniston’s experience and their shared kinship will help the program become stable, allowing them to focus on the students.

“The [dance] experience that she has made it really easy for us to just exist and work on our focus, what we want to do for the kids, and what we want to do for dance,” Steiner said.

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