A Bunch of Memories of My Dance Teacher, Janice

When I transferred to Long Island High School for the Arts as a drama major, she taught dance and I had a mandatory class with her every Friday. I was very scared.
  1. When I spent ages debating whether I was supposed to wear socks to a dance class, eventually decided socks were a pretty safe option, and ended up slipping and falling on my ass on the first day
    "Get up! Why are you in socks?"
  2. When a musical theatre major named Jesse complained during one of her most grueling warm-ups.
    "This is why nobody shows up on Fridays." "What did you say??" "I said I'd be afraid to fight you, Janice."
  3. When she stopped me in the hallway one day and I thought she was going to scold me for dancing badly, but she said, "Anne Hathaway. That's what I'm gonna call you. Do people ever tell you that you look like her?"
    The idea that a teacher could like me, despite my subpar work in her class, had never occurred to me. Also, I had braces and I was ugly, so this was an equally inaccurate and kind compliment.
  4. When the choreography of a dance piece ended up bringing me to the front of the stage and I looked at her with fear in my eyes and we had this exchange:
    "It's okay, Sam, just stay in the back when everyone else comes down." "Thank you." "It's no problem."
  5. When Michael, our stage combat teacher with an ardent love for TLC reality shows, who helped out during dance every Friday, had a family member who was incredibly sick in the hospital.
    Janice had her dance students script a parody of Toddlers in Tiaras and perform it for him as a surprise at the beginning of class one day. There were props, costumes, and signs. One dancer was also a gymnast, so her special talent was doing a flip in the air. The dancer who played her mother had a sign that said MY DAUGHTER DOES FLIPS
  6. This beautiful insult when we fucked up during a dance.
    "You guys look like Fred Flintstone when he uses his feet to drive, but it's the end of the day so I have to let you go."
  7. When Jesse and I decided that Janice was the Professor McGonagall of our school, because she was scary but a total badass and amazing.
    We told her about this. She frowned and said, "McGonagall??? She's the oldest one." and walked away.
  8. When she threatened to quit her job because we didn't remember the tap choreography from the week before.
    "I can't remember this shit! You guys have to remember it! I'm choreographing seven dances! I can't work at this school anymore if this is how it's gonna be. I just don't think I can do it."
  9. When I stopped coming to dance class because I was so bad at it and she asked me to come back.
    It was mostly to save my gpa, probably, but that was still cool of her
  10. When she told us which exact costume to buy from Target.com for a dance piece we were going to perform at the annual showcase, and when it came in the mail, it gave all the girls cameltoes.
    "Tie a ribbon around your waist or something so people aren't seeing..." she gestured to our collective pubic area, "all that."
  11. After I graduated, I came back to visit the summer camp that our school ran every year. I said, "Being back here is a little weird."
    She replied, "You know what's weird? These kids. These kids are SO weird."
  12. When she decided to move to South Carolina the year after I graduated and I came back to visit on her last day at school.
    Her dancers had choreographed a surprise dance as a gift to her. It was to a medley of Madonna songs, because she loved Madonna. They worked in some of her really difficult warm-up bullshit. I tried as hard as I could not to cry. I didn't tell her I loved her, even though I did love her, because I had only been her student once a week and I didn't want to make it weird.
  13. When she made a Facebook status in South Carolina like, "Does anyone know of good jobs here for a choreographer? NO TEACHING JOBS. Thank you"
  14. When she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it was so weird because she had been the picture of perfect health for as long as I'd known her
    Everyone says that about cancer patients but she was a grandmother who looked like she was 42 years old, MAX. She had biceps. Come on.
  15. When I googled the survival rate for pancreatic cancer and it was really bad
    20% for a year, 5 or 6% for five years
  16. When she commented on my Facebook profile picture and called me beautiful
    Her kids deleted her Facebook so I can't check and see if I replied because the comment has disappeared, but I hope I told her I loved her
  17. When she shared a picture of the beach to Facebook and said, "I'll miss this." and I was like omg is she dying??????
    Someone asked her what she meant and she said, "I'm going to Manhattan tomorrow." But it gave me a heart attack basically
  18. When she made it past the one year mark
  19. When she stopped replying to people's messages on her Facebook wall
  20. When her kids made a Facebook group called Collecting Love for Janice
    They said we should put all of our messages for Janice in there and they would share them with her. I told my mom, "I hope this doesn't mean she's dying soon."
  21. When I wrote her a message and hoped desperately that her kids would read it to her, if only because I never came close to saying those words out loud and I wanted her to know I loved her
  22. When she passed away two days later and I found out at 7am, before anyone was awake.
  23. When her wake and funeral happened during a blizzard and I couldn't go.
    I felt weird about going anyway, like I wasn't supposed to be as sad as the dance majors she spent 5 days a week with.
  24. When I had to read a cancer memoir for a class and I couldn't get through 20 pages of it because that person lived and I was furious.
  25. When I took a ballroom dance class and I was like, "This is for Janice," and then I was horrible anyway.
    Fuck off
  26. When I saw her pop up in the Facebook chat window among my other friends who were online, and my first thought was, "Oh my god I haven't seen Janice in so long! I wonder how she's doing!"
  27. Every single time I hear a song she used to play during those awful warm-ups and I remember the way she made everything look so easy. I would be in so much pain, but at least We Found Love in a Hopeless Place was playing.
    I still can't do a push-up.
  28. I still love her a lot.