You start by taking your 3 year old to dance class as something to fill an hour of her week and give her an outlet for her energy. She comes home from class and continues to dance around the house, wearing a few spare scarves from your cupboard or last years costume from the dress up box – asking every day there after “do I go to dance today?”
Next thing you know, you’re complaining about the hours spent driving back and forth to the studio, the later-than-you’d-like rehearsal (on a school night?), time sitting and waiting at the studio for classes to end when you have a million other places to be, and don’t even get me started on the money – tuition, shoes, master classes, shoes, fundraisers, shoes. Did I mention shoes?
You fret and worry that a “normal” childhood is passing her by. They’re not on the netball team, they’re not a runner or in the swim club. They’re rarely at the dinner table because they have a class almost every night of the week. Family holidays are planned around summer schools. But before you know it, they’ve danced their last concert and discarded their last pair of shoes and it’s all over too soon.
When it’s all over and they’ve left the stage for the last time, will you remember the hours, the money, the worry of the physical toll? My guess is “NO”. You will remember the gifts dance has given them: the ability to prioritise and multitask, a strong, flexible body, the ability to handle pressure and last minute changes, and an appreciation for music not currently heard on the radio. You will be grateful you are sending your daughter/son out into the world with with a strong work ethic and long attention span.
You will have a great sense of peace knowing your daughter/son is part of a strong circle of friends equally capable of lifting one another up when the road is rough, as they are out celebrating one another’s triumphs. In the end, you can pat yourself on the back because taking them to that first dance class 15 years ago was one of the best parenting decisions you made.
– This originally appeared as a blog post on the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet site entitled “Confessions of a Former Dance Mom”