I have a lot of experience with dance moms. Even though I don’t have a dancer of my own, I grew up taking ballet, jazz, and tap. I wore countless sequined covered costumes, and later danced with the Milwaukee Ballet as a student. Later, I majored in dance in college, danced at a theme park, and performed with a Modern Dance company. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family.
I had my own dance mom.
She never pushed me, but dance was something that I wanted to do. Yes, she signed me up for my first park and recreation class, but I craved the discipline of a dance studio as I grew up. She drove me to every class, took me to auditions, watched every performance, and even perfected the dance bun.
She was my biggest fan, but also would have been happy had I chosen another career path.
Now, I teach ballet and interact with my dancers’ parents. I see many different parenting styles and a wide range of interest in dance. Everyone has their own reasons for being at the studio, and every child does too. There is not one “right” way to be a dance mom, but I do have some ideas on how you can be the best partner to encourage your child.
You don’t have to want your child to be a ballerina when they grow up.
I think dance can be for everyone and has so many great benefits. If you look at dance as a learning experience, rather than a career path, it’s easy to see why your child should take a class and adjust expectations.
Not only does dance provide physical exercise, but it’s great for the mind. Memorizing steps and routines, learning new vocabulary, and counting the musical beats are just a few of the things a dancer learns. Plus, there are life skills like patience, behavior, commitment, and working together.
Your child may not see how waiting in line for their turn, listening to the teacher, dancing with a partner, and going to class every Monday helps them, but you will. Those things translate to every area of their life. Then, there’s the added benefits of coordination, balance, and grace. No matter what your child wants to do, or what you hope for your child, dance class is never the wrong option.
Make sure you both understand the most important part.
Even though professional dancers must be disciplined, talented, and serious, it doesn’t mean they don’t love what they do. Any career should be a passion, and dance is no different.
As a child in dance class, it should also be fun.
Moving to music, spending time with friends, and creatively expressing yourself are all just as important as getting the steps right when your a kid. If they are not having fun, they will not want to keep doing it. If they want to practice at home outside of class, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay, too.
As a dance mom, you need to realize you can’t force passion or love for the art form, but you can make sure they are getting the most out of their experience. Your child may be making lifelong friends, developing an appreciation for a new artform, and conquering their fear of performing in front of others. Cheer for the things they excel in and cheer for the things they try. You will build their confidence either way. It doesn’t mean they need to dance forever, but if they are encouraged rather than pushed, they might want to.