Through out my years as Artistic Director of Move with Grace Dance Studio, I have seen one of our student struck hard with the reality of Lupus at the tender age of 16, one child fought and beat leukemia, several students over the years have shared with our staff struggles over parents divorcing, body image issues and more. Our dance community strives to be a safe, loving and supportive home for all of these dancers. I have great pride in the fact that the young lady with Lupus is studying dance at a post secondary school and visits often. I recently received an email from the mom of the child who beat leukemia saying that although the child no longer dances her memories of our studio and her friends within Move with Grace are precious. I mention these students as a reminder that life is very short and we need to be grateful every moment for the beauty of our children.
I am often heard quoting that one percent of the students who study dance will go on to do anything in the professional world of dance. Please do not misunderstand why I quote this. I quote this so we have realistic expectations of our children through their growth and development. I believe that every child should be taught as if they are going to be a professional dancer or teacher but the REAL goal for me in mentoring my students is that they learn the life skills through dance to over come obstacles, gain self esteem, and have a connection with their mind and their bodies.
As we enter the season of competition and recital be grateful for the beautiful mind and body that your child possess. The opportunity that these weekends present to spend time with your child and celebrate their accomplishments and the many many opportunities to learn and grow from a competition or performance.
Often at competitions I hear parents and children fighting instead of taking this time to teach the child how to calm down and work through nerves or stress. It is stressful to work hard for months and have everything riding on a two minute performance. Remind them that they have done the hard work, they have practiced and perfected and now it is time to shine. Take the emphasis off of competition and encourage them to enjoy the moment on stage. Assure your child that you are proud of the work regardless of the mark. Working through nerves in a positive manner will put them at the same level as the most accomplished adults you can think of. Getting up in front of hundreds of strangers, displaying a skill that you have taken months to perfect, putting yourself up to be judged. Those are life skills to be encouraged, valued and admired.
We cannot control what judges are looking for. We cannot control who else comes to the competition. We can control our preparedness and our attitude. Parents and dancers often put the emphasis on a mark instead of how far the child has come emotionally, how much they have learned and what they are going to gain from the experience regardless of the outcome. I often repeat to myself “comparison is the killer of joy.” Let your child’s light shine in whatever their personal strengths are not in comparison to another. Performances do not always go as planned it is what we can gain from the experience that is the Gold in the moment.
Enjoy the Moment! Celebrate your Child and above all have FUN!!!