To look at how dance mentoring works for National Mentoring Month, we've asked a few of Leap 'N Learn founder Beverly Spell's mentees to give us insight into what it's like having her as a mentor.
Meet Alexis Amos. With dreams of professionally dancing, Alexis started taking ballet when she was sixteen. Currently, she is a student and teacher at Beverly Spell's dance studio, The Ballet Studio — but she won't be around for too long as she's got big opportunities to pursue her dreams and make them come true!
- Tell us a bit about your history with Beverly Spell. How long have you known each other? How did your relationship grow over time and how did the mentoring aspect develop? What’s your current connection to each other?
I met Ms. Beverly when I was sixteen-years-old. I had heard about the studio, and I went in to take a placement class. After the class, I got a chance to speak with her, and she seemed very excited for me to be a part of the studio. I felt very welcomed, and she encouraged me to be a part of her trainee program. As time went by our relationship grew stronger. I constantly wanted to soak up all the skills I could learn from her whether it was for ballet technique or for learning how to teach children. As a mentor she has taught me discipline, hard work, self respect, and much more that has influenced who I am today. I am now one of her ballet instructors, and I am certified in Leap 'N Learn. I also teach her Angelina Ballerina™ classes and trainee levels.
- How has your involvement with dance and having Ms. Beverly as a dance teacher shaped your life?
Having her as a dance teacher and mentor has shaped my life tremendously. To have someone believe in me so much after I had started dancing at the late age of sixteen has had such an impact on my dream to become a professional dancer. She has pushed me and encouraged me to overcome obstacles that I never thought I could accomplish. When I was faced with the challenge of balancing college and training in ballet I was very discouraged after not dancing for a semester. She found every way possible for me to get to class, and if she wouldn't have cared so much, I don't think I would be dancing at the level I am today.
- What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Ms. Beverly?
Ms. Bev has always said that you either think you can or think you can't, and which ever one you decide to believe, you will be right. That statement alone has so much truth because if you think you can accomplish your dream goals, be a great teacher, or perform a hard ballet role you are going to be right. That mindset and standard that she has set for me and other dancers has made us all have a positive outlook in life.
- What are your upcoming goals and plans? Are there ways that your relationship with Ms. Beverly will help you in these future endeavors?
I recently received five scholarships to study at the most amazing dance programs all over the world, including my dream school The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I plan on chasing my dreams and becoming a professional dancer after I graduate college with an Exercise Science degree next semester. What I will take from my relationship with Beverly is to always keep striving for better and do things that are out of my comfort zone.
- What do you seek in a mentoring relationship? What qualities do you find most helpful or inspiring in a mentor?
In a mentoring relationship I seek honesty, encouragement, and wisdom. Qualities that are most inspiring in a mentor is when they see things in you that you don't even see in yourself. I also love mentors who have a very positive attitude.
- What advice would you share to help other dance students or teachers foster a mentoring relationship?
Dance students who are mentors should realize that someone younger than them is always going to be watching whether they realize it or not. It is important that students carry themselves like dancers, help those who may be struggling, and also model standards of the studio. Teachers who are mentors should cater to each students' individual needs. They should also find out what goals their students are striving for and help them to reach their biggest dreams.
- You've also been on the other side of mentoring by teaching dancers. Can you explain a little bit about those experiences? What do you strive to do when guiding young students? What is your teaching and mentoring style like? And what is your favorite part of being a mentor?
Transitioning to the other side as a teacher has been very rewarding. I started off assisting Ms. Bev's Leap 'N Learn classes my third year as her student, and I was terrified of children honestly! I didn't know how to talk to them or what to do in the many scenarios that can occur in a three-year-old class. It took time for me to get the hang of it, but after attending the Leap 'N Learn workshop, I learned all of the tricks and knowledge that allowed me to succeed. When guiding young students I strive to make their experience as fun as possible and leave them smiling and excited at the end of class. My teaching style is very much like Ms. Beverly since I learned directly from her. I also like to challenge the older levels and incorporate things in class that they have not tried before. My favorite thing about being a mentor is seeing students accomplish and succeed. Its amazing when parents come to you saying their three-year-old child taught them ballet positions and all of the educational facts that Leap 'N Learn incorporates into the curriculum. I have grown so much and now that I am an adult I understand why my mentor made every choice she did.
A big thanks to Alexis for sharing her stories, insight, and advice about mentoring. She inspires us all and makes us proud, and we love the way her excitement is so contagious. We enjoy seeing her bright smile around our dance studio, but we can't wait to see what her future holds. One thing for sure, we know she will continue exuding all the best qualities of a dancer (from poise and grace to dedication and strength) as she wins over new audiences.
Tell us what stood out to you from Alexis' interview — or just comment to tell her hi and wish her the best as she follows her dreams!
Do you have a similar dance mentor story? Feel free to celebrate these stories by sharing them with our dance community below or on Facebook!
P.S. Please help Alexis reach her goal of attending The Ailey School Summer Intensive Program by voting for her video to win the 2013 Harlequin Floors Video of the Year Scholarship. Those funds will help her afford the travel costs. Please VOTE today, and help spread the word!