Dance is fun, physical and creative. It challenges the body and mind and provides a welcome respite from the academic pressures of school. Some children show more natural talent than others but everyone will benefit from the experience.
What do dance moms need to know?
1. Dance takes up a lot of time. Be prepared to be lifting backwards and forwards during the week and weekends, especially when there are exams, competitions and shows. Dance requires commitment in order to improve. Lift clubs with other dance moms in your area will alleviate some of this pressure.
2. Dancing is expensive. Classes, costumes, dance gear/shoes, make up, hair, travel, exam and competition fees are regular escalating costs. Be selective about which classes, dances and competitions your child participates in.
3. Arm yourself with skills. Go on You Tube to learn to sew costumes/shoes, make buns/ponytails/plaits and for dance make up tips.
4. Sacrifices. Be prepared to give up the occasional party, weekends and holidays for dance.
5. Be prepared for the highs and lows. Drama, elation, disappointment, tiredness, injury and rivalry are all part of competitive dance. Try to always be encouraging and supportive. Teach them to be humble and supportive of other’s success and to work hard to achieve their personal best. Keep perspective at all times; dance is highly subjective.
6. Know some of the dance vocabulary and different styles. This assists your child in practicing at home and shows an interest in what they do. Many dance studios will allow parent watching days so take advantage of these to watch and learn and meet other dance parents.
7. Dance styles that may interest your child:
Ballet/Modern/Contemporary/Lyrical/Jazz/Hip Hop/Ballroom/Tap/Spanish/Acrobatics/Folk/Ethnic/Belly Dancing/Indian/Bollywood and more …
8. Try to find the right studio and style of dance for your child. Is it a competitive studio grooming potential professional dancers or just for recreational pleasure? How do the teachers interact with the students? How do the students and parents interact? Dance is a wonderful way to form lifelong friendships based on common goals/interests.
9. Don’t over commit to dance classes unless your child is able to juggle schoolwork, other extra murals and still have some down time. Discuss the purpose of dance in their lives. If it is a professional career they are aiming for, the competition, pressure and commitment is huge. If it is for fun and exercise, there is more flexibility.
10. You can never have enough hairspray, hair gel, hair nets, stockings and bobby pins! Keep supplies in the car and at home.
11. Dance can result in injuries. Make sure you have a good professional to assist such as a chiropractor, podiatrist or physiotherapist.
12. When your child doesn’t find dance fun anymore, reassess. Even if they do not become professional dancers; dance teaches team work, confidence, healthy exercise, winning and losing gracefully, flexibility, strength, discipline and the joy of performing.
Thanks to Julia Bowes for her input in this checklist.