MEET PIN OAK’S DANCE TEACHERS
MEET PIN OAK’S DANCE TEACHERS
By: Anh Bui
Most of us know about the Pin Oak Company & Crew, but do they know the teachers working behind the scenes?
Last year, Pin Oak introduced two new teachers to their team. Mrs. Landgraf, who came at the start of last year is the Company director. Ms. Perez is the Crew director, who came to Pin Oak last year in the second semester after the two previous hip-hop teachers left.
Both teachers started dancing at a very early age. Ms. Perez started dancing in ballet at the age of 3 and Mrs. Landgraf started out in ballet and tap when she was 4 years old. They were both encouraged to dance by their parents.
Although they have a strong dance background, being a dance teacher wasn’t their first career choice. Mrs. Landgraf started as a high school English teacher in 2008 and volunteered to be the drill team assistant teacher; because of this, she fell in love with teaching dance (partially because it was less grading to do). Ms. Perez, on the other hand, has only been teaching dance for about a year now. When she first started working at Pin Oak, she had only been teaching for 6 months. She first fell in love with teaching dance when she was on her high school drill team and got to help teach her fellow teammates. When she got older, she wanted to get back into dancing; when her friend opened up a dance studio, she took the opportunity to become a dance instructor.
When it comes to choosing a song and choreography, both teachers will usually just hear a song, whether it be on the radio, at a restaurant, or during a movie. Then from there, they’ll listen to the song over and over and eventually the choreography comes to them.They add what they think is best and works with the song and then chart down their ideas.
When asked about the hardest part of directing a team, they responded that it was hard to make everyone happy in music choice or in choreography because everyone likes something different. Another tough thing about the dance department is the space to student ratio. Having such a small space and so many kids can be hard to see everyone and be able to dance around freely.
When asked about the best part of their job, they said the connections they have with their students and the impact they have on their lives. Also seeing each dancer grow and become more comfortable with themselves. Many students will walk into the dance room shy and afraid, but with the right teacher, their confidence increases immensely. Often times, students will come back to visit and say they miss them.
Some advice they have for those that want to get into dance but might be too afraid is that they should just go for it and try it out because no one is perfect and all dancers are still learning.
Even as teachers, they still have goals. One goal for Mrs. Landgraf is to become a better choreographer; she wants to have it come easily and develop more original choreography. Ms. Perez has a similar goal, to become a better choreographer, but another goal for her future is to be able to go on a tour with her dance studio and teach people all over dance.
These two teachers have dealt with a lot in only a year. Last year Mrs. Landgraf directed while being pregnant! She did everything from choreographing and teaching dances to winning trophy after trophy. Ms. Perez was able to direct Crew with the short time she had, after coming in mid-year. Ms. Perez had only been here a month before Company and Crew went out to competition. This year she’ll be running Crew and planning her wedding for November!
These two teachers work very hard and do it all with laughs and a smile on their face. Company and Crew are very lucky to have them and greatly appreciate all their hard work and dedication.