"What sports do you do?" It's a question I have overheard my girls answer many time over the years. Initially, they have each forgotten to include dance as one of their 'sports" and I have worked to tell them how very much their dance is a sport. And SO much more!
When I was a young mommy and my oldest(Chelsea) was 3 years old, my neighbor asked if we wanted to start her in dance class with their daughter. Sure! That sounds cute! And that decision made 22 years ago, entered us into the amazing world of dance. Where I, along with each of my girls, would learn and grow..in many ways.
Being a dance mom is typically not the reality that you may have seen on the TV show. But it is indeed, a very big commitment and a tremendous amount of work and emotions. And dance recital week is beyond exhausting. Our Chelsea danced from the time she was 3 until she graduated at the age of 18. And at the end of each dance year and each recital, I would sit back and breathe a sigh of relief that it was all over. And my heart would fill with pride watching her and all of her hard work come into action as she danced her heart out on stage in front of so many. It's a emotion filled week for moms and their dancers. You hold your breathe with each step they dance because you know how hard they have worked and you know they know their dances by heart. Please, God, please let them rock this..please let the floor not be too slippery. Please.... Oh, the nerves of a dance mama. :) Why do we feel nervous? We feel it FOR them. We carry their stage fright for them. It's a dance mom thing :) We think they are amazing no matter what, but we want to see them succeed for themselves and all of their work and dedication.
I'll be very honest here. At Chelsea's last dance recital, I was finally able to sit in the audience and watch the recital. Say what?! A dance mom watching the entire recital without having to stay in the dressing rooms and assist with costume changes? Watch the show without running up and down several flights of stairs to the balcony(moms viewing area)? I was in Heaven! And as much as I loved her dancing years, I felt a relief that my Dance Mom title of the past 15 years was coming to an end. I'm getting too old for this I thought to myself. lol!
Did I mention that while I was sitting in my comfy seat watching that last recital, that there were 2 wee little ones sitting next to me? The little ones were Ella and Sophie at the age of 3. They were going to learn to love soccer or track or something else, because this was my dance mom retirement year, after all! I told my husband that I love dance but I wasn't going to be able to commit to another 15 years of dance mommy. Nope. No way!
And then it happened. I watched my Chels dance in her 15th and last recital and the reality of all that she had gained from her dance years hit me. Hard. It was so much more than a tutu and a stage and bobbypins. So very much more. At the end of that recital, I looked down at the little ones in the seats next to mine and I said to my husband..."how can I NOT let them dance?!" And just 3 months later, I dusted off my dance mom retirement panties and signed Ella and Sophia up to start their dance journey.
We are currently in the midst of dance recital week. 7 years for my little girlies and 22 for me. And I reflect on all that encompasses the world of dance. On the outside, it's 3 nights a week of dance class. It's dance shoes and leotards. It's mastering the hair bun. It's hairspray and bobby pins and costume alterations. It's backstage quick changes that give you gray hair! It's your family room doubling as a dance studio where your girls practice their dances. It's missing some fun events because they fall on dance nights. It's dress rehearsals. It's lights, camera, action. It's people asking why we do this and saying they would never want to because they see how much work recital week is. And did I mention bobby pins and hairspray? hehee!
But those are NOT the things that filled my heart when I asked the question 7 years ago of how I could NOT let my little ones experience the world of dance. Nope, None of those things factored into it. Those are the outside things.
It's the inside look of the dance world that filled my heart. As tiring as dance recital week is, I have learned to love it for all that I see behind the scenes. These girls are bonded in ways that it's hard to describe.
Tolerance. Dance is a team event and as much as each girl works individually on their dancing, they are working with one another. In all of my dance recital years, I have never seen one girl get upset with another because they may have forgotten or "messed up" a part. Never once. I see them talk about with one another and sometimes laugh with one another and often practice again behind the scenes...but never get upset with one another. I love this. A lot.
Commitment. Remember the events we sometimes miss because of dance classes? They get that commitment and have not once ever complained.
Individuality. I watch each dancer with a different version of recital make-up. What I have never seen is any girl compare theirs with another.
Sisterhood. I see a group of moms who are truly a special group of ladies. They get it. They get what it's really all about.
Understanding. I watch the girls and their moms rush to help one another with costume mishaps.
Compassion. I see girls with quick changes struggling for time and other girls saying, don't worry, we will wait for you!
Heart. I watch my girls chasse, leap, shanay and twirl in the aisles of the food store.
In a world where we see so many examples of lack of tolerance, responsibility and empathy, I see a group of girls who are growing and learning the importance of these traits.
And on that stage, I see right through the glittery costumes, I see hard work and dedication. I see such poise and confidence and grace. I see girls who seem to tune out the hundreds of people in the audience and get lost in the music. I see the heart of dance. And I see it radiate from my dancers. An accomplishment to hold dearly.
And the question I currently hear often..."is Tian going to dance?" Well, Dave will probably need to work a second job for that to happen, but truly how can she NOT dance? :)
Dance on dancers!!! DANCE. On.
A special thank you to Nardi Dance Studio for it's fabulous teachers who have taught all of my girls what dance is all about!