Monday, June 8, 2015

It's Official... I'm a Dance Mom!

Today my ten year old daughter, Nicole, had her first dance lesson.  She did great.  For the last month we practiced stretching and back bends. We worked on different leg stretches, hand stands, and other tricks.  I have never had any formal dance training so I didn't really know what to expect.  My dance training consisted of a two week clogging class, and a month long part on a drill team back in ancient history, when I was thirteen years old.  I wasn't sure what would happen at her first dance lesson.  All I knew was that Nicole had the desire to dance.  I knew she could do it.

When Nicole was younger, I had asked her (begged her) to try to do something with her free time, but I never did force her to do anything.  She didn't really want to do anything more than play with her friends, play with her dolls, play video games, and watch TV.  I'm not sure what changed about her. Maybe she saw kids her age dancing, and thought it would be fun.  Nicole came to me and told me that she wanted to dance.  I think this was an important step towards a goal, that she came to me wanting to dance meant that she "wanted" to dance.  I think too many parents force their kids into competitive sports and dance, but I never needed to do that.  Nicole asked me to get her into dance.

Nicole is only 2 inches away from doing the splits.

What I learned today was that each child has their own talent and their own desire to work towards perfection.  What surprised me most about the other kids at the dance group was that they didn't seem to care. They were at dance because their parents forced them to take dance lessons.  Some of the kids gave no effort, barely lifted a leg or straitened an arm.  When it came time to stretch, many of the kids pretended to be stretching hard, hoping that the dance instructors would not notice, would not make them work hard.  So many of the kids in dance were happy with mediocrity, not even mediocrity...  Just being in the dance studio so their parents could re-live their childhood dreams vicariously through watching their kids go to dance.  I felt the dance lessons were more for the parents than for their own kids.

I was shocked at how many dancers were not serious at all about dance. Some parents used the dancing time to catch up on housework.  They leave their kids at dance so they have extra time for themselves.  Dance might be the cheaper-than-the-daycare alternative.  Some kids were left at dance by their parents because daycare costs more, and so some of the children were literally dumped off at the dance studio, not even introduced to their dance teacher, not even a conversation, just a check stub and "good-bye."  I felt bad for those kids.

I don't mean to generalize because some of the kids were there to dance.  Some of the kids had cute side buns pulled in their hair and nice dance shoes.  They were on point and ready to go.  There were kids that could do the splits, twirl, and who could cartwheel across the room.  Some of the girls wore clothes that were be-dazzled with sparkles, and those were the ones that were fascinated and wanted to dance.  Those girls were there for the right purpose.  I sat down and crocheted.  I tried not to be too overly interested except where it concerned my child, I tried not to show much more interest.

I think, for a parent, if a child doesn't want to dance, then dance is a waste of time and a waste of money.  A few girls that were there really gave it that extra effort and tried.  It didn't take long to weed through all of the girls in the room to know who had the drive to dance and who didn't.

One mom had her kid in dance for three years, and her daughter could not do a hand stand.  I don't understand how that could happen.  A hand stand is probably one of the easiest things a dancer could do, especially with a spotter holding up the legs, but she could not do a hand stand.  I saw girls that could not do back bends.  Nicole put herself into a back bend and only needed a boost with her leg from the spotter to do a back flip, and that was only her first day of dance.  I think some parents seemed envious.

It's important to let your children decide when they want to pursue their goals.  It's their life after all. I think other parents were a little disappointed in their own child for not giving it any effort, and they wondered what I did to make my daughter perform.  The answer to that is that I never made Nicole do anything. She chose to perform.  I think that makes all the difference.  I don't believe in forcing kids to do anything.  I think they have to desire something badly enough to chase it themselves. Many children are ahead of Nicole on her dance team because they have been practicing for years and Nicole started dancing so late.  I still believe that Nicole will catch on and catch up with the other dancers.  How I know that it was the right decision to put Nicole in dance is because she puts a smile on her face, and I know that when she dances, she feels truly happy.  When Nicole dances, it warms my heart.  I want to do everything in my power to help her follow her dreams and push her talents to the limit.


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