Every little girl (well almost every) looks at the beauty of a ballerina and wants to dance. The effortless elegance becomes an ultimate goal. Weigh the costs.
I can’t remember a day I didn’t want to dance. My life of athletics began on ice. Let’s just say, ballet on ice. At age 2 I started ice skating and by age 13 my parents were offered a deal to take me to train in Colorado with a host family in hopes of Olympic gold. They said no. I’m thankful. Any athletic endeavor comes with a cost, not only the financial cost but the time and heartache cost. Only one person gets the lead. Only one person attains the gold. Only one person…so how do you as a parent guide your children and protect them at the same time. Because quite honestly many “dance teams” are not so wholesome.
As a former dance coach let me tell you there are some kids who simply can NOT hear the beat. They don’t have the skill, but they may have the heart. They’re never going to be on the front row and never be the lead dancer. However, if they love to dance, keep dancing! The love has to be there. Without love, you breed hate. Dance and gymnastics are very physical sports. Yes, dance is a sport.
Let me be very clear. Dance is beautiful. It may also be a form of Godly worship. When dance becomes a mom driven competition of trying to live that unfulfilled opportunity of a lost dream you better rethink why your kid is dancing. My friend Natalie says, “ I’m not sure why my mom put me in dance but at 5 I hated it. She made me finish out the season with the recital. I then did theater for a couple years. Then a flyer for the Nutcracker came around my school and I went and auditioned and dance hooked me in! I’ve been dancing ever since.”
Which dance company you join is going to determine the level of joy you receive. Like in any organized sports group there’s the talented kids and the “bench warmers.” The difference in dance/gymnastics from other sports is the body image issue can become destructive and evil. At what level are you willing to reach when your daughter complains she is fat when she looks like a twig? Be careful.
Every level of every sport there’s competition. Competition builds character. Character builds leaders. Leaders build our world. Learning a new skill is fun. Each child has a different “playbook.” For a perfectionist dance/gymnastics may be the kryptonite to kill them. I make it sound so awful! Dance is fantastic when taken as a hobby. There are a very few that will be able to sustain a dance career past 10 years old. You’ve peaked at 10? That’s kinda harsh, but the average age to start dance is 5 and to drop out is 10.
“Dance is something I’d never have my children do,” my daughter explains. Ouch! I’d had her in dance until she was 10. Oh, yes the 10. It goes back to the clicks like in any sport. You’re with the “cool kids” or you’re not. For my daughter’s it was a learning experience of stage presence, finishing something you started, and mean girls. Dance was something my daughters and I could do as a family and that made it a win for this mom.
The good news about dance! It’s all-out FUN! I’ve always enjoyed dancing. As a coach, my team was more focused on teamwork than perfection. Look for a studio that encourages everyone. If you’re looking for your child to win competitions and dance on Broadway, make sure your skin is as thick as one of those swamp gators. Making it on the “big stage” is like making it into the NFL.
Now, teaching your son to dance is a gift. I mean teach him to really dance with a girl. One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three…. You’ll be doing him a favor, because ALL the girls will want to dance with him. True story… my 10-year-old son was at a wedding and he came to hide behind me. “Mom,” he sighed, “all the women want to dance with me because I know how to lead!” He was popular because he could dance.
Like with any organized sport it has good and bad. Some have it some don’t. My dad was part of a “Ukrainian” folk dance team as a young man. He grew up and became a professional clown on ice with Ice Capades where he met my mom who also was a skating star. We do our best as parents to put our children into activities we think they’ll like. The tipping point in any sport is when you have to make the call on keeping them in or taking them out. If you’re not careful, your kid could become a clown too!
Believe it our not there are faith based Christian dance companies, folk dance studios, and even homeschool groups for dance. Not every company is going to offer a competition option. If you want your kid to “shake their groove thing” and look like a mini adult twerking, hey that’s your kid and not mine. Many obviously think it’s a good thing, because there’s many doing it.
Choose wisely. Our kids are given to us and not anyone else. They’re our kids to raise how we see fit. I love to dance and will never stop dancing.
My husband and I go swing dancing most months. All my kids know how to swing dance. We taught them. Dance has been a skill I’ve tried to pass on to my children because I love to dance. Who knows if my grandkids will be dancers? Dance parties will never end, so tap that toe, leap through the air, and dance like no one is watching.