By Ryanne Duffie Saucier
We’ve all got them. I’m talking about the people you meet on this journey, and you both immediately know you will be friends. I am fortunate to have one such friend going all the way back to grade school.
Long before he was Christopher Dean Anderson the world-class choreographer and I was Ryanne the entertainment/intellectual property attorney, we were two geeky (and mostly awkward on my part) kids growing up in small-town Alabama. We, thankfully, found a kindred spirit in each other over our love of Elton John, Broadway musicals, and pretty much anything fabulous!
With my big dreams, I rarely fit in with the “cool kids” in town. But, I knew I could always count on Christopher dreaming right beside me.
Christopher was kind enough to let me pick his brain about all things creative and legal right on my entertainment law and intellectual property blog at StatuteofRyAnne.com. We caught up right before his appearance on The Bachelorette during the summer of 2013. You can read about how he got to where he is by visiting Feature Friday – Christopher Dean, Part 1 and Feature Friday – Christopher Dean, Part 2.
Now, you can find Christopher infusing his spirit of professionalism and creativity onto a new generation. While he still has his own passion for performing, he is at a place in his life where teaching takes center stage. I was interested in this new venture for him.
How has your life changed since you were featured on StatuteofRyAnne.com?
The biggest news is my new last name is Anderson! I got married to my partner Bryan Anderson of three and a half years on January 6, when same-sex marriage became legal in Florida. We were the first gay couple to get married in Collier County, where Bryan was born and raised and where we currently live. Bryan and I are now planning our second wedding for our family and friends to celebrate with us in November!
On the work front, I couldn’t be busier, teaching dance, choreographing musicals, and, for the first time, branching out into stationary as a project manager for DM Paper Designs. I could not be happier! I also became the dance coach for the Florida Gulf Coast University E’Gals! As I write this, I’m currently at an FGCU basketball game with my team.
How is teaching different from performing?
Teaching stretches you in different ways. As a performer, you temporarily affect an audience; but, as a teacher, you strive to have lifelong effects on your students.
What do you hope your students take away from their time with you?
I hope my students not only learn the physical skills and routines I teach them but a long-term work ethic, how to feel their emotions, share those emotions, and be good people. My hope is that I’m preparing them to be successful, hardworking adults. I also wish to be a good example of a hardworking individual myself in a committed relationship.
Tell us about a time of a challenge with a student? How did you and the student grow through it?
I have students with all different types of challenges, from financial burdens to physical disabilities. I try to teach them that the most important thing is to communicate with me about their barriers and to communicate open and honestly, unashamed. Great communication skills will help them in all areas of their life, even if they decide to stop performing one day.
Who has been your most influential teacher and why?
My most influential teacher has been Cornelius Carter, dance professor at the University of Alabama. If I’m even half the person he is, I consider that a success. College was a turning point for me both emotionally and professionally. He not only trained me as a technical dancer in his artistic image, he also taught me how to overcome social barriers as a gay man and to value my self-worth.
Do you see aspects of your teaching style that you learned from Professor Carter?
I absolutely see teaching aspects of Cornelius in my work. Every day I think about what he taught me and how it affected me. I try to be very frank with my students, as open and honest as possible, as Cornelius was and still is. He taught me that being honest with someone means you really care about them. My students know I “keep it real.” To this day I still call him for “real talk.”
Any other special projects on the horizon?
I’m currently choreographing three musicals! Two “Footloose” performances and “Loserville.” And my wedding, of course!
If your students only learn and remember one thing, what do you hope that is?
If there’s one thing I hope my students learn from me, it’s to be kind, accepting, and loving. I try not to live by a “I hope I have x,y,z impact on students” kind of mantra. I’m more of “just be as open and honest” with my students and hope they choose to live as their true selves. I’m not perfect. And I tell them it is okay if they’re not either. But we should work a little every day to go in that direction.
Embracing yourself as you are is one of the great lessons in life. Christopher’s students are fortunate to have a teacher who unashamedly lives his true self and is true to others. That’s a lesson that will surely help students dance through this thing we call life.