Opinion: Pleasant surprise at dance competition


I survived my first dance mom competition! Technically, I survived my daughter’s first dance competition, but who are we kidding? These things are never really about the girls! Ah, but where to begin – the over-the-top costumes, the hooker make-up or the generally manic atmosphere of a hotel with hundreds of young dancers ironically juxtaposed against a college football coach convention? Let’s just go with general impressions.

Keep in mind that my only dance experience prior to my nine-year-old’s start last year was one torturous high school semester of ballet way back in 1986. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, save for the few episodes of “Dance Moms” I’ve had the displeasure of watching. So I set my super-keen observation skills on high alert and prepared to judge other women ruthlessly. ‘Cause that’s what dance moms do, right?

I would love to announce that my imagination wasn’t too far off or that I actually saw Abby Lee destroying a little girl’s self-esteem and all her chances of successful relationships and future happiness. But alas, there were no “pyramids,” no spray tans or flippers, nothing even close to Hollywood’s portrayal of dance people other than a couple of tuckered-out five-year-olds succumbing to tears, a vomit mess outside one of the ballroom studios and an overabundance of Kardashian-quality false eyelashes. Unfortunately for your reading pleasure, I was somewhat taken aback by the mature attitudes, the professional atmosphere and the genuine joy my daughter took from this experience.

Yes, I think spending hundreds of dollars on sequenced poodle skirts and bandeau tops is utterly ludicrous, and by the end of the day’s performances I could have happily punched out a few of the competing studios’ obnoxiously loud mothers, but when I saw my daughter perform for the first time, she literally took my breath away. How could such a bratty, often-goofy drama queen transform into a young lady with such grace and poise? Who was that confident girl up there turning (dancers don’t say “spinning”!) and smiling and winking at the judges? I could totally see how parents become sucked into the whole racket. On several occasions I even caught myself bad-mouthing the judges and criticizing opposing dancers even though I haven’t the faintest notion of what makes a solid tap routine or a technically challenging lyrical. Hell, I don’t even understand what a lyrical is! Nonetheless, I could feel my competitive mama bear instinct trying to claw her way out. Uh-oh. I might be in trouble.

A dance mom. Huh. I never thought I’d be one, but so long as I’m here, I may as well rock the shnikey out of it! So with jazz hands accompaniment, I proudly say “Peace out!”


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