And just like that, we’re on to capital E, Excellence, in our series about SRL’s core values (i.e. G.R.E.A.T.E.R—check out Growth and Respect first!) Excellence is defined, somewhat ambiguously, as: “the quality of being excellent.” And excellent is? According to Merriam-Webster: “very good of its kind, eminently good, first class.” There’s something very interesting hidden in this imprecise and rather elliptical definitions—the words “quality” and “of its kind.” Because excellence at SRL isn’t only measured by the adjudicator marks or a teacher’s comments, but as a more indefinable quality, something each individual dancer strives for on their own terms—because we know each dancer is of their own kind.
We are, of course, all about achieving excellence in the realm of Irish dance—each class at SRL is focused on the best conditioning, training, education, and choreography for each and every dancer, at each and every level. Our staff is a team of highly experienced instructors—both as teachers and in the world of Irish dance—and we take care to include student helpers in most classes to ensure individual attention is paid to each dancer (while giving the helpers a chance to learn how to be dance educators and mentors!) Our dancers lead the way on the competitive circuit, but we also see excellence on the smaller, everyday stage of the studio with the success of our Tiny Jig and Pre-Beginner programs. Excellence, at SRL, is a spectrum, and we embrace that excellence is a quality very much “of its kind.”
In that same spirit, striving for excellence on the dance floor is only one part of it—because every dancer is different, moving at different speeds, with different goals, all while experiencing the world as different people in different ways. We’re here to help our dancers find their individual definitions for excellence in the studio. And while Irish dance has its own qualities to work on, what we practice in the studio is reflected in the real world by helping students learn that real excellence is a personal journey and not necessarily a destination. There is no absolute definition for excellence, because excellence is a process of always working to better oneself in after some self-reflection, self-examination, and self-knowledge.
To give a concrete example: while one dancer might have some extra work to perfect her reel in dance class, needs to work on picking up after herself at home, and struggles with writing prompts in school, another might need help with his hornpipe in dance class, have a hard time communicating with his siblings at home, and be in need of assistance in math at school. While dancers may not see the correlation, dance can help instill important life lessons—resilience, goal-setting, problem solving, determination, the list goes on and on—by both the repetition of these skills in class and the benefit of kinesthetic learning dance allows for. So when dancers strive for excellence in dance class—personal excellence rather than a specific definition—they’re learning to strive for excellence in all parts of their lives.
We know there’s no pinnacle to reach, no one definition of excellence. Not in dance, and certainly not in life. At SRL we try for capital E is for Excellence by acknowledging that excellence is personal, not comparative. To be excellent is to be the best version of you—because only you can define that indefinable quality, and you are the only you of your kind.
This post is part of a series. Read our last core values post, all about Respect, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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