Taking a tip from one of my favorite columnists, Jon Carroll, Warning! The following is a cat article. Non cat people may want to skip this one.
Cats are great role models. They embody effortless grace. They never suffer from self-consciousness. They are never put out for long when someone refuses a dance with them. They naturally assume it was a onetime fluke. They always give you a second chance.
My cats, Fred and Ginger, grew up in a dance studio and are a great asset when my students are cat people and not so popular when they’re not. Ginger, being a cat, assumes that anyone who comes into the studio is there to visit her. She gets highly insulted when she is ignored, particularly when I’m working with a couple. After all, there is an extra person. Why aren’t they petting her? This attitude is reinforced by the fact that they usually are.
Unlike Fred and Ginger, my first cats, Uki and Tori, were shoulder snugglers. Tori would hang out on the shoulder of whoever wasn’t dancing, happy to be transferred from one dancer to another throughout the lesson. I had students who couldn’t bring themselves to stop coming because they had fallen in love with my cats. A definite asset.
Since both cats are content to be locked in the bedroom as long as they are together, there is no problem with students who don’t care for cats. The only downside is the occasional student with a serious allergy. This was a rare problem for most of my career, but it is getting to be more common. Places of business with live in cats boast a unique charm, but the allergy thing is a definite liability. The only circumstance in which I’ll travel to a student’s home with no extra charge is when an allergy prevents them from coming to me. If they’re not more than 20 minutes away and I want to work with them, I’ll go to them. After all, it’s not their fault my studio is home to animals. Most studios are not.
Without a doubt, the most common reaction on being greeted in the studio by Ginger is one of sheer delight. Ginger is a real charmer and helps put nervous new students at ease the moment they enter the door. Not everyone loves cats, but the vast majority does seem to appreciate Ginger. Over all, the charm of animals in studio adds a positive element that far outweighs the negative. What do you think?
By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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