11 Apr
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Learning the Dance Curve

Dance class has brought our daughter much joy over the last couple of years. It’s the thing that brings the most joy to her six-year-old heart. This year we put more time into her sport and added one son to the dance floor.

Sports in our family are typically played with a ball on a field or court. There are referees not adjudicators. Scoreboards clearly tell you where you stand. Dance has been a learning curve.

I’ve heard people snicker when I refer to dance as a sport or our daughter as an athlete. If you can’t commit to dance as a sport, watch those dancers practice or attend a competition. There were countless young people I watched on stage this weekend at our first Spotlight Dance Cup who are most definitely athletes.

Until this year, dance for our family has been one class once a week with two recitals. Our daughter joined the mini company at her dance studio giving her two classes a week this year. Mini company has also performed around our community alongside the older kids in regular company. The biggest change for her dance life was attending competition.

In the fall, the director of our studio called inquiring if our 13-year-old son was interested in dancing in a pas de deux company number. There weren’t enough male dancers for the number of interested female dancers. He’s athletic, but I assumed he would decline. He was actually intrigued and said yes.

Brother and sister at Spotlight Dance Cup

His commitment of 20 minutes a week for his one company piece is nothing compared to his fellow company dancers. It hasn’t been easy for him. He went in with no dance knowledge and found himself frustrated quite a few times. He never quit, although the thought did cross his mind. Being brave enough to step out of your comfort zone is something I struggle with and has held me back at phases in life. I want my children to have the confidence to go for it, whatever “it” is for them.

Our son was a dancer on that stage at competition, not some guy filling in. He’s come along way in a few months, learned so much about body movement and has a greater appreciation for his sister’s passion. He may even end up on the dance floor again in the future.

Competition was different for our daughter. I was nervous for our son, more because I didn’t want him to drop his partner than anything else. Dance is our daughter’s thing. I was nervous because she’s six. The stage is big. Her and her teammates are little. My stomach was a twitchy, fluttery mess right before her number was called, and her team took the stage.

She’s heard all those big company kids at our studio talk about competition and earning awards. She wanted to know what that moment was like. Her moment was a warm, fuzzy one. One of those moments that go into family lore that we pull out over and over, “Remember that time at dance competition…” One of those moments that even if dance isn’t always her passion or future competitions don’t go quite how she wants, she’ll have that dance. Not all childhood moments are as nice to hold onto, and that one is a keeper.

Those little competitors danced and smiled their hearts out. I could see they loved what they were doing, and that’s what matters most. She loved that stage, and she loved having the opportunity to perform. Dance competitions require close to an eternity of waiting, and the dancers handled it like champs.

I like to be prepared. I like to know how, why, what and when. The more details I’m given the better. I’ve easily asked one thousand questions this dance season, and half of them were about competition. The unknown is far less nerve-wracking if you have people to honestly explain things and not act annoyed while they are doing it. I’m grateful for the dance friends that helped make this dance season and competition smooth for my children and myself. Seriously, I started with minuscule dance knowledge eight months ago and now feel like I’m a legit dance mom. I still don’t quite understand competition awards with the gems, banners, trophies, plaques and New York invites, but I have a feeling I have a more competitions in my future to work through the details.

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