My “Tony Danza” :: Dance Mom Truths


(“Tiny Dancer” for those of you who aren’t fans of Friends. Both of you.)

dancer at recital
My tiny dancer

It’s dance recital week and that means my husband and I are spending our days trying to fit the rehearsal schedule around our work schedules, making sure all costumes and accessories are present and accounted for and being apologetic to anyone who walks near the costume bag and catches a whiff of a jazz shoe that’s been sweated in for several months. Truly. We are sorry. And we are also too cheap to buy new jazz shoes during the last week of the dance season.

As stressful as recital week can be, we always look forward to the show.

We are part of a great studio, and they know how to do a recital. Some of their recital-related brilliance includes:

  • There are assigned seats so thankfully, there is no bloodbath between anyone’s Memaw/Mamaw/Mimi/Granny/Sugar about who is sitting where.
  • The audience isn’t allowed to take any photos or videos of their own. Yes, I realize this means we spend $25 more for the DVD, but anyone who has ever spent two hours watching someone else’s iPad screen instead of your little precious will know how truly fantastic this rule is.
  • The dancers for the next number are getting set on stage while those currently dancing are doing their final poses and making their way off stage so there is no – dance, bow, run off, wait, set music, wait for the next group to make their way on stage, annnnd dance, etc., like there was when I was a wee ballerina. These kids run through 54 numbers in two hours including a 15-minute intermission. Of course, they also do three shows over the weekend, so our combined six-hour recital time is probably about the same as those who do one marathon show.

If you are contemplating dance for your little one, things like this really make a difference in your experience and sanity.

At each show, there is a gaggle of mom volunteers backstage who fix hair and make sure every sparkly hat is pinned in place and every tap shoe is tied. But, it’s a little different for the guys. There are a lot fewer boys and they don’t have digs quite as fancy as the girls do. It’s a numbers game, not a slight, but what I quickly learned as a boy dancer’s mom is that the boys will typically be in a space that is either smaller than your average bathroom stall or just kind of out in the open. This week, our changing area is the hallway outside the dressing room. We make it work.

Besides learning about dressing room spaces and how to do quick changes just off-stage, I’ve also made one other big observation about being the mom of a boy who dances, and that is that people like to justify to me why it’s okay that my son dances.

If you’ve never had the experience of some acquaintance helping you justify something like this, it’s quite an experience. It typically goes a little something like this:

Person: So, what’s the little one up to these days? Is it baseball season?

Me: Yes, but he doesn’t play baseball.

Person: Oh, he must be waiting for football season, especially with his dad being a coach!

Me: Nope, he loves cheering on his daddy and the team, but he doesn’t play football.

Person: Soccer?

Me: Nope

Person: Basketball? Lacrosse? Badminton? Squash? Water polo?

Me: He dances.

Person: …

Person: Oh! Well … that’s okay!

Me: Yes, it is.

Person: Ahhhh, well you know ladies love a man who can dance! He’s going to be a real ladies’ man!

Me: Head explodes.

I always want to have that conversation in reverse when this happens to prove a point.

Me: What’s the little one up to these days? It’s dance recital season! When’s her performance?

Person: She’s not a dancer.

Me: Oh. Well, what about cheer? She must be into cheerleading.

Person: No, she doesn’t cheer either. She plays softball.

Me: Oh! Well … that’s okay! I mean, you know how men love a girl who knows about sports! She’s going to make some man happy one day!

Do you see it?  Do you see how it sounds to me now? I get it. There are more girls than boys in dance classes. Most of the boys you know are probably in the middle of whatever sports season it is or is doing travel ball and you don’t know any other boys who dance so it takes you a little off guard.

But, in case this or something similar comes up, here’s what I recommend.

Person: So, what’s the little one up to these days? Is it baseball season?

Me: Yes, but he doesn’t play baseball. He dances and we’ve got a performance coming up.

Person: Hope the performance goes well!

See how simple that is? Whatever thoughts may or may not be happening inside your hat rack are all yours but, outwardly, that’s truly all you have to say and then we can move on to our thoughts on the weather or gas prices.

Because whatever you may think, it is fine that my son takes dance lessons for one reason and one reason only – he likes to dance. He loves to dance, in fact.

Thankfully, he doesn’t really worry about what anyone thinks about it either. He does love your applause so feel free to clap, cheer and maybe even give him a standing ovation. And if you need us this weekend, you won’t find us at a hot, dusty ball field. We will be inside a cool auditorium in pre-assigned seats proudly cheering on our favorite dancer for doing what he loves best.

“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”
― Shel SilversteinA Light in the Attic


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