That’s right, I admit it. I am a Dance Mom. But not the Abby Lee version. Like the girls on the tv reality show, my 7-year old is a competitive dancer who wears costumes and makeup and spends a lot of her free time in a studio. That is where the comparison ends.
The thing that people who know nothing about dance need to know is this: dance is like any other sport. It is athletic and exciting and inspires confidence and creates strength. A dance studio is not a place to be belittled and discouraged, it is a second home and a place of safety. When our kids walk into the studio everyday, they leave all the negative things that happen in school and at home behind and just start dancing. They do it because it is fun, because they make friends, and because they get rewarded for working hard and being really good at something.
Unfortunately, a certain TV show has given the moms of these creative athletes a bad rep. We find ourselves hiding our shirts and accessories that once proudly proclaimed us as dance moms. The real truth is that we are also soccer moms and karate moms and band moms. We are not any more or less crazy because we are also dance moms. So if you have never met a dance mom, here are a few things you should know:
1. It’s all about the dancers
We are there and we put in the time and effort to get our kids to the studio, dressed, and ready to dance because it is what they love and we love them. When you child finds a passion for something, it is only natural to encourage it, and that is what good dance moms and dads do every day.
2. Trophies are pretty, but . . .
We go to competitions and the kids try their best to win. However, and this is a big “however”, competitions are a tool that is used to give the kids exposure to other, often better dancers, new choreography and to foster friendships and teamwork. Trophies are great, but for real dance moms competition is not all about winning.
3. Dance makes our kids great
One of the greatest benefits of dance is level of confidence it inspires in young kids and teens. More than a sport, dance is a creative outlet. The physical strength it takes to perform is awesome, but the level of confidence that the kids achieve from expressing themselves on stage and in the studio is really amazing.
4. We form real friendships
Dance moms bond. We can’t help it, we spend large amounts of time together, often bunking together in hotel rooms to save money. The friendships formed between the moms and between the kids are the long-lasting kind.
We also bond with our own kids. Hours spent in the car and at conventions and between classes are invaluable. How do you keep kids out of trouble? Keep them busy and stay involved. Dance moms and their kids are very busy and very involved!
5. We are normal!
We are regular people. TV shows like to play up the crazy in people and although we all have some crazy moments, as a whole, the dance moms I have met are overwhelmingly gracious, supportive, enthusiastic, caring people. It takes a lot of teamwork between the parents of dancers to keep the kids motivated and to get them and all of their stuff (and there is a LOT of stuff) to performances. If the parents were truly anything like the ones on TV, the whole shebang would fall apart.
One last note: I have focused on Dance Moms because those are buzzwords right now. I would like to point out that there are some terrific Dance Dads out there cheering their kids on, building props, and learning how to do ballet buns!