all we really needed to know we learned at dance competitions


Um, actually no. All we really needed to know we did learn in kindergarten just like Robert Fulghum said. But while dancing competitively and supporting that competitive dancer all these years we certainly put it all into practice.

As Jodie is packing away her costumes and cleaning out her makeup box we are finding ourselves both reflecting on the last seven seasons. It seems like it was only last week or so that we were packing those dance bags for her very first competition. Yet here we are, reflecting on all that we learned and have put into practice at dance competitions and, I imagine, will continue to in real life.

Jodie learned very quickly to be gracious always in victory and in defeat. At one of her very first competitions, we witnessed first hand a sweet little dancing snowflake express her disappointment in the judges’ result by smashing her trophy in the parking lot as her dance mommy did her best to soothe her angry, disappointed snowflake. Jodie observed correctly (before I could even say a word) that if she did that she would likely never be allowed to dance again.

True that!

Through the years, Jodie has scored many trophies, ribbons, plaques and pins as the shelves her daddy installed above her dance barre prove. The diamonds, platinums, lightning golds, high golds and golds she is very proud of and were all accepted graciously and humbly. But not to be forgotten are the emeralds, high silvers and silvers which were also accepted with gratitude. At Nationals this last week she received a high silver for one of the dances that she danced in. Disappointed? Oh yes she was…very much so…but one would never know watching her accept that award and shake the judge’s hand nor did they know as she left the stage and walked with me back to our hotel room that night.

As with any competitive sport/activity, Jodie learned to be responsible for her own crap, er, equipment, shoes, makeup, costumes, props. Sure I helped over the years to take inventory, pack it up, hang them up and carry them everywhere we should go; but ultimately everything she needed for dance was her responsibility. Her teachers taught her that as did her parents because are we really going to be there to take care of all these things as she goes out on those auditions? Um, no.

Being part of something bigger than herself, Jodie learned a lot about what it really means to be a part of a team. One must show up and honor their obligations to the people who are depending on them to show up and give their all to the team effort. Sadly, a few times while dancing competitively she has been partnered with dancers who sometimes just didn’t show up physically or mentally. It was hard for her and the rest of the team to fill in those gaps but they did. Under their teacher’s instruction and their families encouragement, they learned that is what you do when you are a part of a team…as you do in real life.

She also learned that everyone really is replaceable.

Opportunities have come and gone. Thanks to her teachers’ instruction, encouragement and connections, Jodie has taken classes, learned choreography and danced with a lot of professional dancers and choreographers and she has taken each opportunity as a chance to learn, grow and make friends. Not once has she ever taken for granted these opportunities.

And as with awards and critiques, be gracious always for those opportunities for you never know where they might take you.

Much has been learned over the years. It is bound to take her far in  life through many adventures whether she be on stage or not.

A friend of mine, whose daughter wants to dance competitively, asked me recently what was she getting herself into. I assured her that there will be all kinds of money spent, all kinds of drama, all kinds of exhaustion guaranteed. I also promised her there would be so many teachable moments for her little girl on the dance floor, in the studio and traveling on the road. Adventures definitely await her and her tiny dancer; and with an open heart and mind and a willingness to work hard and learn much god only knows where they will end up.

For us, for Jodie, the next part of the adventure is just beginning.

 

 

 

 

what happens in Vegas (with children at dance nationals)


Well, you know how the saying goes.

Most of the drama, the marley burn, the sunburn, the blood, sweat and tears, the headaches and especially all that water under the bridge we are leaving behind on the dance floor…as every good dancer does. It is our final dance competition, dance nationals as dancer and dance mom and yes, there was all of that and more that happened here in Las Vegas.

I wouldn’t want to go through this eight year-long adventure with anyone but my tiny dancer.

But let us all pause briefly and take note that I look so damn skinny in this picture standing next to my daughter who dances for hours every day. I did. We did.

Because what happens in Vegas stays there…for now…until we get home. That’s going to be a whole ‘nother adventure.

we are THAT family


Here we are at the Green Valley Mountain Resort for Nationals!

Whoo-hoo!

This place is glorious! Off the strip, in Henderson, away from all the glitz, glamour and depravity and despair that is the Vegas that we love and not love so much, this is the perfect place I am thinking for a Dance Nationals Competition and Convention.

I’ll try to post pictures and a more fair assessment after my favorite dancers have done a little bit of dancing and competing later. For now I am exhausted. Literally. The last 36 hours I have had perhaps a couple hours of sleep choosing instead to kiss my favorite son and see him off to his seaside adventure and annual spoiling thanks to Auntie Toni followed by packing and driving through the night to get here in Las Vegas…er, Henderson.It really seemed like a great idea, driving all night with a 2 year old and a 6 year old crammed into a car loaded with so much dancer stuff. It really was a great idea as everyone, but the driver (me), did get some sleep.along the way.

SOME” being emphasized here.

Oh, and no one judge me for leaving a bag of barf along the roadside somewhere in between the middle of nowhere and Yermo, California.

Nevertheless, we are here…

yeah, we are THAT family. You pretty much KNOW that we are here, no matter where we are, because 6 year old and 2 year old sisters and exhausted mommies.

Perhaps after a good night’s sleep…

Good night!

 

little me


Last summer when Hazey-Face auditioned for the Dance Stars team, she told her dance coach that more than anything she wished to do a duet with her Auntie Jodie.

She really does look up to Jodie.

Kind of hard not to when your auntie’s feet seem to rarely touch the ground.

Since this was to be Jodie’s last recital as student and teacher, Hazel’s wish was granted today.

Little me

Yeah you got a lot of time to act your age,
You cannot write a book from a single page,
Hands on the clock only turn one way,

Run too fast and risk it all,
Can’t be afraid to take a fall,
Felt so big but you looked so small,

Wish I knew back then,
What I know now,
Wish I could somehow,
Go back in time and maybe listen to my own advice…

You gotta speak up, you gotta shout out,
And know that right here, right now,
You can be beautiful, wonderful,
Anything you wanna be,

Little me

How fitting that they would choose this song, Little Me, since Hazel is basically Jodie’s mini-me. True story, at dance competitions people backstage will ask if Hazel is Jodie’s little girl…which would mean that Jodie was a mommy at age 12…

Um, NO!

Not that I have never seen that happen. Sadly, I have. Jodie would have been so grounded forever if that ever happened to her. Don’t think I wouldn’t. Why not ask if they are sisters…you know, since they share the same last name?

I’m sorry.

There I go again, off on another tangent.

Back to the sweetness…

Isn’t this so sweet?

Aren’t they just adorable?

Don’t they just make you want to cry because of the sweetness, the tenderness, and the years just blurring by as we witness the magical moment between Jodie and her Little Me?

Hazel’s mommy and I have decided that these two are so grounded for like forever for making us (and pretty much everyone in the audience) cry today.

Thankfully, their dance coach knew this just might wring my already emotional because-it-is-Jodie’s-last-recital heart out and she was prepared with her gift to me.

Today I learned that after nine years of dancing and recitals and competing, when it is your kid’s last dance recital as student and teacher, you get wine…because Dance Moms do like their wine. Harmony knows me so well…perhaps too well.

Jodie and Hazel are still in so much trouble.

 

season of lasts


It’s winding down, the final season of dancing competitively for my tiny dancer, all grown up now. We, Jodie, her dance coach and myself, have all had our moments…last Dancing with the Dance Stars, last competition preview, last Thunderstruck Regionals, last tap shoes purchased, last Hollywood Vibe convention, last Rainbow, and, this past weekend, her last Starbound; this time at a venue new to us, the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

This view of the stage literally took Jodie’s breath away, it was so beautiful. Then she danced on the stage, without marley, which proved to be a little bit slippery…so she tells me. I nod as if I know, which I don’t even if I am a veteran dance mom because I don’t dance. Still, it was amazing watching her dance on the Starbound stage for the last time and collecting more trophies and awards for the shelves above her dance barre. She did great. The whole team did great which was exactly what Jodie hoped for…her team doing well this weekend, her last regionals competition weekend.

Her solos were amazing but, even better, were the dances with the rest of her team. I think this last weekend she really enjoyed dancing perfectly in sync up there with her sisters, her friends, people she has grown up with and has watched grow up. Telling me just that and adding the fact that sooner than she is ready for, it will be the last time that she dances with all of them made us both realize that this season of lasts is very quickly coming to an end. I paid the last Dance Stars invoice last week…and the heavens rejoiced…she taught her final tap classes readying for what will be her final dance recital as student and teacher this weekend.

Next, Nationals.

But wait…

Even before the lasts of this season are done, she is doing exactly what we have taught her spreading her wings like a butterfly as she is on her way for a quick trip to LA for an audition. Yes, by herself. She’s not my tiny, pig-tailed dancer anymore. She’s doing exactly what we have taught her, what her dance teachers have taught her and what her heart and soul is leading her to do because her wings were made to fly. No matter what happens, she knows she has nothing to lose, everything to gain and a big dance family of sisters, brothers, moms, dads, teachers and coaches all there with her, even if we are not physically there. We are all there cheering her on with every leap, every turn, every step and we can’t wait for her to come home and share where her dancing adventure has taken her…on her own.

Sigh!

It’s hard to let this butterfly of mine go. At least I know for sure she is coming home this weekend for more lasts because this season of lasts isn’t quite done.

Stay tuned…