AT RANDOM: Tiny dancer
In my fantasy, perfect life, I am an amazing dancer. From that old soft shoe, to ethereal ballet, to sultry tango, mesmerizing East Indian, and spirited tap, I excel in all. And I look gorgeous in all the gear – this is a fantasy after all.
Of course, my reality involves nothing closer to dance than lifting my pen and notebook with what I like to think is a certain grace.
I was delighted to attend the Accentz Dance Studio productions of The Enchanted Forest and Dreams last Saturday to see my god-daughter and granddaughter perform.
From the tiniest baby ballerinas to the more mature students, all the dancers looked like they were having fun, danced well, and it was all a pleasure to watch them.
I couldn’t help thinking about what it took to bring it all together – the teachers, the backstage people, the performers who work towards the performance all year, and the parents.
No matter how much aptitude and enthusiasm a child has, nothing can happen without parents’ support and encouragement. While most of the children will not go on to be professional dancers, they are learning skills that will serve them well anywhere life takes them. Dancing helps anyone develop poise, confidence, discipline, music appreciation, how to keep their bodies healthy and fit, memorization and working together.
I wondered how the students came to be in the classes. For the girls, the answer was obvious, most mothers want to see their daughters in sparkly costumes and most little girls love to wear them.
Was it harder for the boys? Some of the classes had one or more boys. Sometimes they did a specific male role, other times they were just one of the dancers, which is what most of us are in the dance of life most of the time – not usually standing out but a necessary part of the whole production.
Did fathers grumble and say no boy of mine is going to dance, I want him to do sports, when first approached with the idea? Did they, maybe without thinking about it, want to relive their own visions of success through their children? Did they think they were protecting their sons from being called sissies (does anyone use that old-fashioned word)? Was the whole idea just uncomfortable for some reason they could not have named even to themselves?
Good dancers are always admired for their strength, skill and ability. Where would dance in general be without male dancers? Dancing is a valuable social skill and impresses the girls of any age.
Any father who won’t let his son try dance if he wants to should have seen the performances of the young men at the recital I attended, a teen in ballet and a younger dancer in jazz and hip hop. The dancer’s impression of a photographer would surely have made our Morning Star photographer laugh, or maybe it was right on.
Not to say mothers don’t do the same thing, that is, trying to live out what they think they missed out through their daughters.
The idea of little girls in beauty pageants comes to mind, young women making that choice when they are old enough is another thing entirely.
Strangely enough, now when girls want to try a traditionally male endeavour, whether it is hockey or auto mechanics, they are usually encouraged. There’s another message girls and boys should not be getting – that the guy stuff is somehow better.
I think the most important thing for parents is to treat each child as an individual and respect their interests and abilities. Child one might want to play soccer while child two can think about nothing but the guitar and singing. Child three could like nothing better than taking things apart and putting them back together and child four will paint and draw on anything. Child five just wants to ride, bike or horses.
Parents need to listen to what their children are naturally drawn to and do what they can to help that flourish. It is also vital to provide exposure to a variety of experiences so that children know what is available and what they might like to pursue. There is nothing wrong with a child, or adult for that matter, taking classes or doing a sport for awhile before deciding that there is something else that calls out for the time and effort for excellence and enjoyment.
Parents should be happy to provide these opportunities with the many great local instructors and coaches.
I grew up in the country where there were no dance lessons or lessons of any kind available so I pirouette only in my dreams — it is too late for me to dance, but it is never too late to appreciate watching dance.
Congratulations to all the young people who are having their end-of-season events in dance, music, theatre, sports and other accomplishments.
Goddaughter and granddaughter both gave beautiful performances and I was proud of them. I gave them a rose bush with pink roses called Pink Parfait which they can plant in their garden in recognition of the joy that dance brings to their lives.
---Cara Brady is a reporter for The Morning Star