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.
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.