What I’ve Learned Being A Mom of A Competitive Dancer

 

Typically posts on Your Daily Dance are not personal or about my own dancer. This blog has always been about being a resource that dance families will find beneficial, helpful, encouraging and entertaining. I was asked recently what advice I would give and what I have learned about being a parent to a competitive dancer over the past 9 years. I had to think about it for a bit. It seems like such a simple question until you have to be the one to give the answer. So after careful thought and consideration, here is what I have learned, witnessed and what I would share with new parents and dancers who are eagerly anticipating being a part of this world.

  • Training:
    • Provide your dancer with the best training and varied opportunities that you can afford.  Everyone’s budget is different and it is okay to say no or not yet.
    • Take their lead on how much they want to train and how serious – it is their journey.
    • Appreciate critiques and criticism – sometimes it’s hard to hear, but if the goal is to improve, it’s necessary
    • Just because Sally is doing XYZ, does not mean your dancer has to as well
    • There are many, many studios training talented hardworking dancers – there is no one studio you have to attend to “make it”.
  • Goals:
    • Some want to dance for life, some for fun, some for exercise, some to be with friends, some because their Mom is making them – whatever their reason, it is not yours to judge.  Their level of commitment is between them, their parents and their dance teachers.
    • Sometimes goals change, dreams change or dancers burn out.  It’s okay.  It happens and even if they decide not to continue, the lessons they have learned and the memories they have from taking classes, to performing, to being part of a team are invaluable.  It was not time wasted.
  • Placement:
    • Your dancer will not always get what she wants and if she does at some point she/he will be faced with the reality that there are others who are viewed as more talented or better suited for a part.  Be thankful for that – it keeps them hungry and working hard.
    • Your dancer may struggle in an area that holds them back – be patient, be encouraging and continue to be their biggest fan.  Dance is not easy and our bodies do not always respond in the way we would like.
  • Competitions:
    • Are fun – they are not the be all end all.  If you don’t win, it doesn’t mean you have no chance to make it as a dancer.  Take it for what it is – an opportunity to perform, share your talent and get feedback.
    • If you do win, don’t let it go to your head – people enjoy supporting kind, hardworking, encouraging, supportive dancers – you will need and appreciate the support of others in your dance community as you continue.  Keep your dancer humble and yourself as well.
    • Be proud of your studio and celebrate other studios success as well.  If you see a dance you like tell someone from the team.  Like a costume – tell them.  Saw a solo you were entertained or moved by, tell the dancer or their parent.  They’ve worked hard and it’s nice to hear that someone enjoyed the performance.  A quick compliment can make someone’s day.
    • Don’t make fun of other studios/dancers – it is a poor reflection of you and your studio.
  • Conventions:
    • Your dancer will leave inspired by the talent around them.  Sometimes it can be just the spark they need to fall in love with a new style.
    • Your dancer will be just fine if they don’t stand front and center, pick up the combo immediately, or get a scholarship.  The convention atmosphere takes some getting used to and can be intimidating for many.  It’s okay.  They are learning.
  • At the end of the day:
    • Enjoy it – enjoy the people, enjoy being entertained, appreciate the lessons – there are many for both the dancer and the parents.  Be supportive, be kind to your team and other dancers.  Don’t beat yourself up when a performance doesn’t go as you would like.  It happens, you will bounce back.  Time flies by.  It may not seem that way when you are writing yet another check for something dance related, but it does and chances are, you will miss it when it’s gone.

4 COMMENTS

  1. There are so many lessons. For myself, I wish someone had been sitting on my shoulder reminding me not to get so caught up in it all. It’s easy to get consumed with who is choreographing this one and that one and which costume designer someone is using and if it costs more and all of that stuff. I wish I hadn’t worried so much about those details.

    • It is so easy to get caught up in it all and I would say that most every Dance Mom I know has had some of those same feelings and wondered if they were making the best choices for their dancer.

  2. Something I had to learn was that you are not going to be best friends with all the parents. You can still get along but not be BFF’s. You eventually find your people. Same for my dancers.

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