Deinhart shows her students a graceful tondue with arms reaching forward. (Emily Rose Perkins)

Dance builds teachers

BYU-Idaho dance teachers are often building future instructors as they teach their students proper dance techniques.

Patricia Dienhart, a technical ballet instructor at BYU-I, has had 66 years of classical ballet experience. She began serious training at age nine, according to BYU-I’s Department of Dance web page.

“We’re building teachers — that’s what we want to do here,” Dienhart said. “One of our best products is dancers who love dancing, and because they love it so much, it shows.”

Dienhart said she has been a Ballet Master three times in her life, which requires at least 15 years of professional dancing, two years of core dancing and time as a chosen soloist dancer.

She said that in her professional study of dance, she has always been taught the importance of passing down what she has learned. Dienhart said that with each generation, the self-fulfillment of teaching dance gets better and better.

“I just want ballet to last and last,” Dienhart said.

Dienhart said this is her tenth year as a ballet instructor at BYU-I.

She said it is important to start from the beginning and start out right.

“Like so many things, if they can just learn the right way, everything else falls into place,” Dienhart said. “The hardest thing to learn in our life, is to unlearn.”

From the time she was 15, Dienhart said she had an early start in teaching, and in high school she had the opportunity to teach classes at the University of Utah.

Dienhart said teaching is wonderful experience and that she values the student above all.

“Teachers, universally, learn far more than students,” Dienhart said. “The only reason anyone ever teaches is because they love people that are learning, and they love the way they learn.”

There are 67 students majoring in dance in the Spring 2016 semester, which is 19 more students compared to the Spring 2015 semester, according to the Official Enrollment Statistics of BYU-I.

About 90 percent of those 67 students will continue to teach dance in postsecondary education, according to The National Dance Education Organization.

Ana Matson, a senior studying dance, said she has considered dance instruction as a career option for herself after graduating from BYU-I.

Matson said she has danced for 17 years, and had the opportunity to help with teaching dance classes when she was 15 years old.

“Since I was 4 years old, I started dancing at a studio and I always wanted to help the teacher with teaching the class,” Matson said. “I love helping students, old and young, learn something new.”

Matson said that BYU-I has given her many opportunities to choreograph for Extravadance, a show that the dance department puts on every semester.

BYU-I has also given her the opportunity to teach beginning dance classes Matson said.

“It was a great experience for me to teach adults rather than children,” Matson said. “It expanded my knowledge of how to teach people of all ages.”

Matson said the dance department has made her a better instructor because of all the experiences she has had, and she would not trade them for the world.

Dienhart said along with personal experience and learning dance the right way from the beginning, you should have a good idea of your body and its limitations.

“To grow a good teacher you have to grow someone that understands that every day is the first day,” Dienhart said.

Dienhart said when it comes to dance and the students, she teaches as if she would open a door.

“Your tool for learning is how to learn the next thing, so it’s like opening doors,” Dienhart said. “You don’t teach them stuff so much as you open doors.”

Copyright 2015 BYU-I Scroll