From: I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Educated at: I was academically educated in Michigan schools and attended Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo. I like to say that the education I use I received at “The Barn,” from my Aunt Marcia Dale Weary in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
Family: My father, Charles Albert Crawford, passed away suddenly this April. He was a professional pilot. My mother, Rosemary Lyn, although suffering from leukemia, is adjusting and known for her award-winning gardening in Florida. I have a have a younger sister, Jennifer, in Michigan who is an RN with four children and five grandchildren. I have a younger brother, Dale who resides outside of Nashville and is an artist with two daughters. I have a talented son Philip who is an actor in the Harrisburg area. I also have two wonderful stepsons from my second marriage and a new granddaughter, Caroline! I have many “ballet children” all over the world. I have been married to my husband Thomas Gill for thirteen years but met him at “The Barn” when I was 14 and he was a Dickinson student, an involved but storybook tale.
Job: I teach classical ballet and have for over forty-five years.
Job’s reward: A high percentage of my students become professional dancers, but all learn appreciation for art, classical music, and beauty. My students learn time management, to work as a team, and an unparalleled work ethic. What makes my heart soar is when I see them apply this to their lives and become productive, kind, happy adults and parents.
Job’s frustrations: Pushy stage parents are the largest frustration in my line of work. Children bloom at their own time, just like flowers and parents can tend to compare and then cause problems. Ballet does miraculous things for a child’s mind and body, but the parents must support and trust the process of the disciplined training with a positive attitude and learn to be patient.
Very first job was: My first job was teaching ballet for my aunt. I was ten. She would give me a quarter at the end of the week.
Pets: We have one beautiful, spoiled, 17-year-old, long hair cat named Moo. Tom named her that because she is black and white and stares vacantly off in space like a cow. She is show cat lovely, but you are not sure what or if she is thinking.
Hero: I have been fortunate to meet many ballet icons and have been and continue to be inspired by great artists from early childhood. My Aunt, Marcia Dale Weary was the most pivotal person in my life. She taught me how to teach ballet from a very young age. I owe my career to her. I basically served an apprenticeship under my well-known Aunt. Car games were not the regular road sign and license plate variety but drills on composers, ballets and French vocabulary. Holidays were private lessons and gifts started as classroom records and then progressed to guest classes for my students and setting choreography of full ballets for my school. Later when I began teaching with her, we would share classes, review each child and plan the syllabus for the week. Marcia was not perfect, but she was a single-minded person that gave up what most people take for granted to succeed in making her dream of creating professional ballet dancers a reality.
Hobbies: I make fancy hair ribbons for my ballet students. They receive them for good attendance and their birthdays. Working with my hands is soothing and calms my mind.
Pet peeves: My Pet Peeve is entitlement in children. I blame the social media apps where children build shrines unto themselves and parents who overindulge their children. Not every child can be the winner at everything. They need to know how to lose gracefully, it is an important life lesson. Giving trophies for just showing up is setting children up for failure in the adult world.
Collects: When I was a girl, I collected Madame Alexander dolls. Now we are into downsizing and trying to keep our lives free of clutter. I tend to buy earrings for myself when we travel, they are small, and they remind me of the amazing places we have visited. I have been fascinated with chickens and trying to convince my husband we need a coop to keep them in. My students found out about it and have helped the cause of teasing Tom. I have over thirty little chicken items now, in the kitchen, bedroom, patio… I have chicken socks, earrings, scarves, ornaments etc.…
Best friend: My husband Tom is my best friend, my everything. I had given up on having a mate and just as my son was ready to go off to Penn State, there he was.
Would like to have witnessed what event in history? I would have liked to have been able to have witnessed the Renaissance. This was a period of history when everything was possible, curiosity was encouraged, and great art was created.
Event that changed your life: The birth of my son, Philip was the event that changed my life. The world of ballet is such a narrow existence. I would have been so one sided without my son in my life. Motherhood is the most demanding and rewarding job there is. I am so grateful that I have Philip in my life.
Your scariest moment: My scariest moment was when I was driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike with my young son and two cats. It was getting near the end of our nine-hour trip, we were singing along to Philip’s car tape “The Lion sleeps Tonight” as we approached a tunnel. And Philip was begging to let one of the cats out of its cage because it was crying so much, I relented. When Philip reached down to pick up the cat his foot hit the gear shift and popped it into park just as we were entering a tunnel. I quickly pulled the gear shift back into drive, but we hear a ping. I tried, but as much as I pressed down on the accelerator, I couldn’t go more than five miles an hour and in the one lane tunnel with a large white semi behind us coming at full speed. I don’t know how I managed to say calmly to my son “Put your head down, we are going to crash” and find the flashers but I did. He remembers hugging the cat and crying. I just held the wheel straight and prayed. The truck slowed down in time, followed us out to the side of the road and the sweet trucker used his CB to call help for us. The paperclip like piece they had to replace cost fifty cents.
Your first memory: My earliest memory was when I was three years old. I was with my father and touring a home we eventually purchased in Ann Arbor. I fell down the basement stairs, I guess that is why I remember it.
Trait inherited from parents: I don’t think I am a carbon copy of either of my parents. I inherited my petite stature from them and maybe my tenacity.
Piece of advice that you live by: “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans” is what I try to remember. You must be flexible and go with the flow. Sometimes what looks like a problem is really a great opportunity in disguise.
Who needs a hug? I only have today’s children for a few hours each day. It has become increasing difficult to teach them in the forty-five years that I have taught, and these are children of families that can afford to pay for lessons and children that want to be in class. I can’t imagine how public-school teachers get through their day with the little support, acknowledgement, salary and respect that is owed them. Teachers of young children are molding the next generation and should be admired for their gift to society.
Favorite reading/author: I am on my third Kindle. I read every night in bed. I like biographies and historical fiction, but I am an avid, eclectic reader.
Favorite spot on earth: My favorite spot on earth is the Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. I have many fond memories of beautiful, afternoons with loved ones spent with feet dangling in the freezing, crystal water. My husband proposed to my there on my birthday.
Website you visit most: The websites I visit most would be Facebook, which I maintain for Keystone Classical Ballet and Amazon. I rarely shop in a brick and mortar store anymore and dislike crowds.
Would like concert tickets to see: I listen to Classical music. I tell my students I am a dinosaur, but they must develop an ear for classical music if the wish to become a dancer. I quiz them in class on composers and names of classical pieces. I would like to see Yo-Yo Ma in concert or have been able to see Mozart. I was lucky to take my son to see Itzhak Perlman. These artists have passion, you can see it and hear it.
One bad habit: This spring I kicked the Diet Coke habit! I had been drinking Tab since age nine, so it was difficult.
Five minutes with: I would like to spend 5 minutes with Pete Nelson from Treehouse Masters on the Animal Planet Channel. He optimizes the exuberant, childlike passion I find in my job. He makes me giggle when he hugs trees!
What skill or lesson would you like to learn? For my husband’s seventieth birthday we celebrated with indoor skydiving! I loved it and would like to go back and take more lessons to learn tricks.
What skill or lesson would you like to learn? If I hadn’t become a ballet teacher, I would probably be an archeologist. I was a good science and math student. I have patience, like detail work and puzzles. I would like to go on a dig sometime in the future. If I must come back in another life, I would like to be a pampered housecat or a classical violinist.
What would make this world a better place? I think the world would be a better place if everyone could have a job, they are passionate about. Many members of my family have been able to find what truly makes them the happiest (not necessarily the wealthiest) and forge their own path.
What is the best piece of news you received lately that you would like to share? Keystone Classical Ballet is holding auditions for Nutcracker Excerpts on Saturday, Sept. 7. Auditions are open to any ballet student age 7 and older, 9to 10 a.m. for age 7 and up, for students with some training, 10:15 – 11:15 for ages 12 and up for students with significant training. Performances will take place as community outreach in the Gettysburg area during the holiday season. Interested students, clubs and events looking for entertainment are encouraged to contact Keystone classical ballet at Keystonecb@att.net or call 717-520-5292 for more information,
How would you like to be remembered? I would like to be remembered simply as a teacher.