John Carroll: How My Meanest Teacher Made Me a Success
BY John Carroll
May 02 2012 3:32 PM ET
When I was in my sophomore year at Juilliard, I received a message that the artistic director of the dance department wanted to have a meeting with me. Let me preface that by stating that a message like that from the godfather of dance was never a good sign.
This is the school that is notorious for kicking kids out of the program. We had already lost four students by the end of our freshman year and we started with only 21. Sometimes it seemed that if you tendu’d at the wrong time, “poof,” you’re out.
I didn’t know what to expect so I got all dolled up. I dressed impeccably, did my hair, and even curled my lashes (my secret weapon). I decided no matter how this story played out, if my head was going to be on the chopping block, that head was going to be gorgeous.
I walked into the artistic director’s office and, to my shock and awe, the entire ballet faculty was sitting there in a circle…waiting for me. There were even ballet teachers in the meeting with whom I had never taken a class. Along the circle of people, there was one empty chair and, in the middle of it all, a coffee table with a box of tissues on it, closest to the unoccupied chair —my chair.
I nervously took my seat. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears and my palms started to sweat. It was around this time that I wished I had also worn a pair of Depends because the gurgling sound from my lower intestines could only be described as, primordial. In a last ditch effort of optimism, I thought, Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe they want to praise me for my impeccable technique and offer me a lead in the spring concert.
Or maybe not.
The artistic director began to speak. He said that he had gathered the ballet faculty together to talk about my progress in that discipline and then asked if there was anyone who wanted to get the discussion started.
No sooner had the artistic director finished the "d" in "started," than one of my then current ballet teachers said, “I’ll start.” He leaned forward so that he was pretty close to my face and continued, “I don’t think you’ve learned anything since you’ve been at this school.”
- BREAKING: Boy Scouts Vote to End Discrimination Against Gay Youth
- WATCH: What Happens When a Gay Boy Scout Comes Out to His Camp Leader
- Transgender High School Senior Skips Graduation Over School's Transphobic Policy
- Nevada Takes Another Step Toward Marriage Equality
- Canada Lifts Lifetime Blood Ban on Gay Men — But There's a Catch
- PHOTOS: Real Weddings, Real People
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Sports Gay Athletes Hop Aboard the Condom Mobile 5 min 45 sec ago
- Crime Questions Over Police Response to Murder of N.Y. Gay Man Still Unanswered 18 min 45 sec ago
- Marriage Equality Nevada Takes Another Step Toward Marriage Equality 39 min 23 sec ago
- Youth BREAKING: Boy Scouts Vote to End Discrimination Against Gay Youth 58 min 33 sec ago
- Theater WATCH: How Billy Porter Becomes Kinky Boots Drag Diva 1 hour 5 min ago
- Entertainment News Debbie Reynolds: 'We All Knew He Was Gay' 1 hour 30 min ago
- World News Ugandan LGBT Activists Arrested While Protesting Media Censorship 1 hour 44 min ago