I used to think it mattered what the pre-dance class did on stage. Now don’t get me wrong – after 8 months of dance lessons, I expect a class of 3-5 year olds to be able to move, ideally to face the front, and with any luck, to smile on stage during our annual recital. But dance lessons and the final performance, are about so much more than that!
I’ve had the studio for 16 years, and finally one of my children took the stage and performed as part of the annual show. I must admit, I was nervous. During her previous stint on stage a year prior, she promptly removed her clothes. The precedent had been set and I was terrified! However, through some incredible guidance from her teacher (have I mentioned how amazing our instructors are?), and a bit of maturity (does a two year old have maturity?), she not only went on stage, but did so happily! She also looked forward to doing it again later in the day, AND is still asking when it will be her turn again at Showplace. During that performance, I realized that it didn’t matter one bit what she did on stage. I was just so proud of her for going out there! I guess what this made me realize is that we just want to see our kids try their best. The pursuit of perfection that is ever so elusive, but often sought after with our older competitive dancers, is not the objective here. It is installing a love of dance and memories for her and my whole family, that will last a lifetime.
Rewind 15 years to the time that a pre-dance class that I was teaching took the stage at dress rehearsal. Ugh . . . They forgot the moves, one picked her nose, and the little boy in the dance was so terrified of the theatrical smoke that he was in tears, suggesting I call the fire department. As a young dance studio owner I thought, ‘This is a disaster!’. These kids are not going to be ‘good enough’ in their parents’ eyes, and they will be angry or, worse disappointed, in my efforts to work with them. Well lo and behold the recital came and went and although the kids did perform a little better during the actual show, they certainly were nowhere near the ideal in my young head of a flawless 3 year old performance. What was telling though, was that most of that class registered for classes again the following year – and the following year, and the year after that, all the way up until this June, when the little guy who was so afraid of the smoke accepted his 15 years of dance award at the recital (I held off on the smoke for his performances this year just in case).
This has all strengthened my opinion that what is most important for our youngest dancers is that they have fun!!! And if fun involves a bit of nervousness or butterflies that are conquered as they take the stage (or enter the dance class for the first time), or having their families fawn over their performance, costume etc., then we have succeeded. My daughter is excited to return to dance so she can perform again, and the little boy from that pre-dance long ago will be moving to New York City this fall to dance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Program (with another one of my amazing 15-year students). Our dance studio, and recital at it’s very heart, are all about passing on the love of dance. Join us and feel the love.