When I was very young (and a little Mennonite), it was against the law for me to dance.
Well, not really. But it was strongly discouraged. I did not know one single Christian that took dance. I wanted so badly to be a ballerina. I didn’t know it then, but my short stalky legs and a penchant for walking into the walls did not bode well for a career of dancing ballet. I had dreams though.
My oldest daughter, Belle, had dreams too. She looked so sweet in her little ballet get-up when she was four. Oh my stars. She was the picture of cuteness! Then someone went and made the most beautifully gigantic flower headbands ever for the end of year Recital. Despite almost all of the 3-4 year olds tipping over from the weight, we all sighed with delight when they walked out on stage with the headbands firmly sealed to their heads.
Don’t you just want to squeeze her? Adorable!
After a couple of years of ballet, she thought that it was “boring” and my dreams of having a graceful ballerina in the family were dashed. Last year, we didn’t have anyone in dance and I was surprisingly thankful to eschew the 2+ hour-long recital at the end of the year. I loved watching all the dance performances, but keeping four young children quiet the entire time? Forget it.
This year, I convinced her to join dance once again. Oh wait. That wasn’t I, that would have been her little friends. She decided that Hip Hop sounded much more happenin’ and joined happily…until the first practice. Apparently, Hip Hop is much more difficult than she had anticipated. She came home hot, sweaty and tired. The trifecta of doom, for Belle. Belle decided that after the second practice she was going to quit. I asked her why and she replied “It’s too hard. It’s a lot of work.” Immediately, I was elated. This was coming from a child that found few things difficult. I was excited that she had met her match. She is very bright in school and loves to dominate. That which she cannot dominate, she avoids, or gives it the smack-down. Until this year. This year she would learn how to work hard and maybe be proud of what she accomplished. Work ethic.
I told her that since she’d committed to it she needed to try it for the full year. She was not happy with me. In fact, until the first festival, she was convinced that she was not going to Hip Hop next year. It was just TOO hard.
When I went to parent viewing day I was actually surprised how hard it looked. And inside I cheered much more enthusiastically. My dance-loving heart also wanted to get up and boogie, but embarrassing her was not going to help any. Who loves to see their middle-aged mother shake her bounteous booty on the dance floor? Plus, they have a very big mirror in there and I didn’t need to see that either.
She worked hard and was still convinced that she was quitting after this year. That is, until her First Festival.
This time I went all stealthy-like to see what happened. After her first recital, and seeing all the excitement and glitter in the changing room, she was encouraged by her performance on stage. They received a Silver Medal!! The lure of the bright lights started tugging on that stubborn heart. After the second recital, I said “Belle, you have the MOVES, girl! You light up that stage when you smile and I think you have what it takes to get really good.”
Truth was, before Hip Hop, the girl couldn’t keep much of a beat and I was nervous that she would be all over that stage, tripping the other cute little dancers in her class. She surprised me with her beat and her groove. I dug it, baby! At the Home Town Recital, those girls brought it. Belle moved with confidence and smiled her sparkly teeth all over the place. She hit the moves right on and did fantastic. Her brothers said they would have awarded her with a Gold Medal, if they were the adjudicators. I was so impressed by her improvement as well as the improvement of the whole class.
It turns out that they did receive a Gold for their last Festival. What a great way to end a year of hard work!
I asked her if she’d thought about what she would like to do for next year. She looked at me like “duh, mom.” and said “I am going to dance! I’m going to do four dances….jazz, hip hop, tap and Ballet!.” Wow. Knock me down. And let’s think about entering four types of dance (KA-Ching!).
If it really comes down to what made her have the change of heart, it was probably the teacher. She was really a great role model and encouragement. She knew how to get their attention, show them how to do it, and made them work hard. All the make-up/glitter and the flashy costumes were a bonus. I believe that the fun of waiting backstage, the excitement behind the scenes and the thrill of being in the spotlight really caught her imagination.
It could have been my simple words…the words of the wise ol’ Mom…”Honey, I think you got what it takes to work hard and be really good at it.”
Or …it could have been the cute boy Hip Hop dancers…Nah, she’s too young for that. Right?