The Importance of Words

My Mother, Anneliese, was strict and insisted her assistants used exacting language when they taught for her.  Maybe because English was her second lauguage, laboriously learned word by word, or possibly because she intended her students to follow her instructions explicitly, she was a taskmaster.

I can see her now, twisting up her face, like some one just scratched their fingernails on a blackboard when an assistant asks the students to “lay down” for the warm up.


I recall her insistance upon not using the word, “TRY”.  In German the word implies experimenting, or improvising.  Her instructions to us were, “Do not ask a student to TRY to do a step.  Either you dance or you don’t.  Try and it means you can fail.”

Our language is permeated with the word TRY.  Try to write a paragraph without using try.  If you teach, we rephrase  instructions.  Instead of saying, “Try to spot  your head”,  say “Spot your head by keeping your eyes on one spot on the wall.”  Your language will become clearer and explain what you want more fully.

The dance teacher should say, “Repeat these steps in this order!”

Not, “Try to jump higher,  try to point your toes…” but “Jump as high as you can, as high as a basketball player”.  “Point fully.”

Words you use can tell a lot about you, and the ideas you convey.  Be sure you are saying what you intend.

But more than that, I recall her point of view regarding teaching.  Everything I learned regarding teaching I learned from her.  I studied at the University where I have a bachelor and a master degree in teaching, yet all the teaching basics I learned being her assistant.

Photo by Guennadi Maslov

Xavier and Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister-City host photography exhibit by Ukrainian artists

Story reposted from the Xavier University website:  

We are so thrilled to see another opportunity to share the accomplishments of our friend Guennadi Maslov.  Guennadi has worked with us many times in the past to take beautiful artistic photos of our dancers.  (See photo above!)  He usually takes our recital portraits as well.  

Check out his recent  publication. Ukrainian Time by Guennadi Maslov

Xavier and the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister-City Partnership are presenting a photography exhibit by three Ukrainian photographers whose work provides a powerful insight into daily life in the embattled country.”Three Intuitions: Avdeenko, Chernov, Manko” opens on Sunday, Jan. 25, in the Gallagher Student Center gallery of the Center for International Education at 4:00 p.m., featuring works by Andrey Avdeenko, Mstyslav Chernov and Igor Manko. A discussion, “Conversation on Today’s Ukraine,” takes place at 5:00 p.m. The exhibit runs through May.From Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin, the fate of Ukraine has been a struggle between the power of the East and the allure of the West. This exhibit presents the work of some of Ukraine’s well-known and most distinctive photographers, showcasing the various and often contradictory directions photography takes through the lens of modern artists.The three artists, despite belonging to the same generation and having the same hometown of Kharkiv, view the world they live in from widely different perspectives. What unites them is the honesty of their intuitive, unique visions in the face of intimate everyday life and sweeping world-shaping events.

Curators of the exhibit are photographer Guennadi Maslov, formerly of Ukraine, and Gregory Rust, director for photography at Xavier. The gallery is located on the second floor of the Gallagher Student Center on the campus of Xavier University.

new featured image Sami


Each Wednesday night, I take time off my day job to assist Miss Conni with her ballet classes from 5pm-8:45pm. It is a treasured experience to work with Miss Conni as she has a plethora of ballet knowledge. I often learn as much as the students do.

I enjoy greeting each student with the same exuberant smile they extend to me. They giggle and laugh with each other in the observance room. The friendships they have fill me with complete delight. When class starts however, they are ready to listen and observe.

Whenever a student is corrected, they respect the comment and try to improve. They want to be ballerinas. I love to watch the joy on the student’s faces when they master a new step. They see that the endurance and passion have finally become worth it. Each dancer reaches some level of improvement and self pride.

After class some students have presented me with little homemade gifts and drawings. They give me tight hugs and never seem like they really want to leave. A few young students have even pulled me aside to express that they see me as a role model. I am humbled by this. To be honest, it is better than any award I could ever receive. I never expected this from anyone.

I still feel like the little girl who came to AVO’s classes somewhat long ago. I wanted to be like the beautiful women who demonstrated for my classes. The smiles they performed with, always made it seem like their eyes were sparkling. They were encouraging and always helping me to be the best dancer I could possibly be. Little did I realize, they were not only demonstrating ballet steps, they were also demonstrating how to be a kind, graceful, and generous person.

If I can take anything with me from my experience with AVO, it is the discovery of the type of example I aspire to be.