Monday, September 30, 2013

Once a Dance Mom...Always a Dance Mom

Do you watch the TV show Dance Mom's? Are you a dance mom yourself? If you are, you will understand this article. If you have never been a dance mom, I am here to explain our craziness.

Being a dance mom is like being a family member in a super crazy family. It breaks down quite simply like a family does. Just like with your siblings, you want the very best for them and their children. You want them to achieve greatness, you want what's best for them and you would never wish any harm onto them. That is the same feeling you have with the other children that your child dances with. You want them to be great dancers, you want the team to be strong and you don't wish for them to fall or forget a dance...until they are doing a solo against your child, then all bets are off.

That is the funny thing about dance. It is a team sport, but when your child excels, it also turns into an individual sport. When all the children are performing a group routine, they are one team. They all move together, they look alike and you hope for them all to do their very best. When your child does a solo, they are pinned against their best friends. You are hoping that your child does the best, they remember their choreography and you hope for the best costume. But all that while, you are secretly hoping that you are getting
more practice time, better choreography and the sparklyiest costume you have ever seen. You care deeply for the other children from your studio you are competing against, but you hope that your child is just a little better and that the judges see that.

Now how do you deal with the other dance moms is what they made a whole TV show about. Not every mom keeps their wishes for the other children to fail a secret.  You know the types, you probably are friends with a few of these types of women, hopefully it is not you... They are loud and brash. If their child isn't as good as your child, they are always in your face, trying to put your child down and get their digs in. If their child happens to be better then yours, they are constantly rubbing your nose in it trying to make both you and your child feel inferior. See how they easily made a show out of this.

I have been a dance mom since my daughter was 2. She started competition dancing at age 4 while she was still in pre-school. You know when your child finds what they are good at and everything clicks, well, dance is that for my daughter. She has a natural ability for dance. She has tried gymnastics, soccer, violin and was in Girl Scouts for many years, but dance is what clicked and what she loved so that is what we stuck with. When you are a competition dance mom, you better like the other mom's that are in her group, because you will spend more time with them than you will with your husband. I was very lucky that the age group that we kept moving up with had a great bunch of moms. You know when you hear people talk about the "good old days" and how much they loved that time in their life, well 2003 was that year for me because of my fellow dance moms. We were all supportive of each other and their children, nobody had solos yet, so there was no bickering between each other, and the girls were awesome dancers and had great dances that year. I also made a few of my best friends that year that I still have today.

My daughter studio danced for 10 years at the same studio, and she loved it. When the economy tanked, we had to make the decision to pull her from dance for financial reasons. She took a year off of dance and took some fun weekly gymnastics classes to keep moving and keep in shape. She then decided to join the middle school dance team to try it out. It was a tiny fraction of the cost we were paying, so I liked the idea of her dancing again. She was on the middle school dance team for both her 7th and 8th grade years, made the "A" team and they ended both seasons as undefeated Champions. At the end of 8th grade, she needed to make a decision to keep doing dance team in high school, or try something different. She chose dance team, tried out for the high school team, and made it.

So now I am in the throws of high school dance team now. It is different than studio, but I think better. It is about 10% of the cost that we were paying at the studio. Practice is right after school, and there is a late bus that will bring her home (no more driving all over town!). It is truly a team sport, yes there are varsity and JV squads in the winter, but each girl is treated the same. During fall dance team, it doesn't matter how good you are, you are placed in the dance by what grade you are in, so all freshmen are in the back row - no matter what. Fall dance team is just for fun, football games and neighboring high school's dance shows. No competitions, just fun!

Winter dance team is a little different as they do competitions as any other sport does. They compete against other high schools in their conference and if they are good enough, compete in State at the end of the season. My daughter tried out for winter dance also, and happily made the varsity Jazz and Kick team as a freshman. She was ecstatic. I was thinking, all those years of studio dance just paid off.

I did notice that JV mom's and varsity mom's did act a little differently towards each other. And to be quite frank, I didn't want to get involved in that part of dance this time around. I have a few dance mom's that are on our team that I was friends with from the studio and I have my daughters friends moms too. I tend to just stick with them, cheer on my daughter and head home. I don't want to be sucked into any drama, those high school girls are good at that all by themselves. The other fun part about the competitions are seeing all the old studio girls with their high school teams. We have had many group pictures off all the girls together no matter what school they dance for now. It is great that they have all remained friends after all these years. They can still cheer for each other just like in the old days.

You notice that there are never TV shows about high school dance teams. Because they are different. It is competitive, but it is a different type of competition. It is a team competition against another school, not each other.

This past week we had lost one of our studio dance mom to ovarian cancer. She had been fighting for three years now.  It was amazing to see how these women who used to see each other every single day at practice and haven't been together for over four years now all joined together again. Flowers and funds for her children were organized within a few days. And a beautiful memorial service was attended by all the old dance moms and their kids. Yes, it was a tragic way to have a reunion, but it was beautiful at the same time. We have proven that we will always be a team no matter if we are competing with or against each other. Once a dance mom - always a dance mom.

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