Monday, June 8, 2009

Dance Mom Extraordinaire

So, as I have touched on before here and here, I have fallen into a mom category the last few years... that of a dance mom. If you are not familiar, a dance mom falls somewhere between a soccer mom and a pageant mom. The soccer mom in me is carting Ariana around to dance competitions in a minivan (wait, wait, wait I do NOT drive a minivan. I have my lovely friend, Lesley who I carpool with in her lovely minvan, therefore letting her have all the glory of being the true soccer mom) The pageant mom is the part where we put our poor little girls in makeup at a ridiculously young age before they get up on stage.

Friends from my youth really get a kick out of my dance mom moniker as I was as far from a dancer or a mom as you could have imagined. I had a period of life where I had a shaved head, wore flannel shirts and made a fake ID so that I could get a tattoo while under age, if that gives you any idea of my youth. Ironically, at my first meeting of Ariana's competition team, her teacher proudly proclaimed, "Our girls are not the type of girls who will turn out tattooed and pierced." Sweet, God forbid my daughters turn out like me!

Ariana is now completing her 5th year of dance and I am struggling whether we can continue on. She loves dancing and does pretty well. She has great dedication and really loves her fellow dancers. But there are downfalls. It is a huge drain on time, she only got to play one other sport this year since she had so much time consumed with dance (and we refuse to be a family that is carting our kids around to 6 different activities every day.) It is also very expensive. We now have 2 other children that would like to participate in activities, so we need to budget our money accordingly.

I also struggle with the body issues and self esteem issues that dancing seems to beget. Although I do firmly believe it is a sport and should not be blown off a some princess party in motion, there is a portion of the activity dedicated to appearance and presentation.

At one of Ariana's competitions this year, the host was very full of himself and talked endlessly, trying to be far more philosophical than could ever by justified at an 8-year-old's dance meet. He made a comment that the girls were all winners and that the need not take their worth as a dancer from this one competition. And for that matter they need not take any of their 'human worth' from the outcome. Really? If my daughter's human worth is any way affected by the UltraExtremePlatinumPlusSuperDuperUltimateSupreme gold metal she gets from her dance class, then I have some serious deficits in my parenting. This further added to my "What the hell am I doing here?" mentality that I have been having in her competitions. But that has to be tempered with her needs and what she enjoys...

I am still struggling. Any other dance moms out there? Any thoughts?


  1. We have had the same discussion with my girls. They have both been in dance since they were 4. Every year I give them the option to sign up again or not. I would never force them to do it. The older thay get the more expensive it is (more dance numbers, more costumes). My oldest daughter wanted to audition for our competition team. In order to be on that team she has to take 2 more classes (on top of the 3 she already takes) and it will cost me an additional $45/month. I laid it out and told her if she wanted to, I would support her but she couldn't do any other sports or clubs. I have 2 other kids an it's not fair to let one kids do everything and then heave no money left for them to play!

  2. Certainly a topic worthy of some Friday night beers. Kelly and I debate these topic often, particularly from a cost perspective. Some quick thoughts though....

    We have recently been making some tough decisions about finances. One item that jumped off the page was Dance/guitar lessons. Combined, the two cost us $4000 a year. When you're looking to eliminate a chunk of money, this was a no-brainer.

    Mattea plays soccer and softball, and also has the option to take free guitar lessons after school from the school's music director, an option we are exploring. Fortunately, she was very understanding of the news, but the bottom line is that she did have other options to pursue her interests.

    Jozie, on the other hand, doesn't play other sports and doesn't have the option to pursue dance for free. Kelly's mother has offered to pick up the cost. It took some pride-swallowing, but we agreed.

    Personally, I regard the importance of the extracarriculars with equal importance as school. Education doesn't stop at math and science, kids need to learn how to perform as a team, deal with frustrating team mates, take direction from coaches, follow through on commitments, etc just the same as they need to learn math. Make no mistake, all three of our kids made honor role, we don't undervalue academics, but I believe most parents do undervalue extracarriculars.

    As for the 'beauty pagaent' aspect.... that's a topic different for each individual. I know Jozie's studio really pushes allowing them to just be themselves. And I've noticed a number of students who don't fit the traditional body types of dancers at the studio. Jozie loves to get dolled up, so she's never forced into it. I suspect that the level of 'molding' depends on the studio. I'm a big fan of individuality and would frown upon anyone not allowing children to be themselves (a seperate set of thoughts from team-playing though).

  3. I couldn't agree with you more. Although our "poison" is cheering. Emily had taken ice skating lessons and played soccer and tried several other activities before she landed on the cheer squad. I was never a cheer person, but Em's best friend was cheering and so I thought that they could both try it together. Needless to say, we have been cheering ever since. Cheering mom, sad to say, is closer to pageant mom than soccer mom. I am most disappointed in competition cheering (rather than cheering for football games and such). In what other sport is part of your final grade based on appearance - hair bows, makeup, and so on? I finally saw one squad come to a competition in matching shorts (not form fitting) and t-shirts. They performed well too. I was thrilled.

  4. I always wonder what kind of mom I will be in the next couple years!

    I'm happy with being a Tattooed&Pierced Mom for now and I'm happy to be in excellent company. We rock.

  5. One thing that I learned this year at dance (yes I am learning as well) is that there is a National Dance Week. During that week the owner to the dance school, put up a large piece of poster board and asked the children what they like most about dance. Over and over again what they wrote was "I can be myself" That is what they strive for, and that is what as parents we teach them.

  6. I didn't have dancer girls, but they had art lessons, and soccer, etc. It is so hard to juggle everything, for sure!

  7. Can she just do dance without all the crazy competitions? Just do it for fun? I love the pic of the girls with the tap shoes. I want a copy to hand in A's room :)