I received several “hate emails” over a recent column, the one where I was trying to figure out if my 11-year-old had become a brat because of her age or because of competitive dance. So because I have at least another year of fishnet hose, glitter lipstick and obnoxious awards ceremonies, I thought it wise to clarify my position before a fellow dance mom shanks me backstage with a mascara wand. [Is the verb shank or shiv? I haven’t started season three of “Orange is the New Black” and my prison lingo is rusty!]
For starters, not all “dance people” perpetuate or even tolerate the crazy. My daughter has made wonderful friends and developed the strength, grace and self-confidence of a much older girl in her two short years of training. I would (and have) left her in the care of almost every dance mom on her team and trust their babysitting skills more than my husband’s. Her instructors not only expect, but demand respect, accountability and hard work, and understand that these are the qualities that make a good dancer, not the number of trophies she takes home. If I didn’t love her studio and the quality environment they maintain, she would not be dancing. Period.
However, anyone who claims that the world of dance doesn’t have its fair share of drama is either not involved or lying. I have seen mothers yell at their preschoolers while they fought to apply fake eyelashes. I have heard girls belittle their own teammates for falling out of turn. And I have had parents make snide remarks to me for belonging to what they considered a lower-class studio. Costumes cost up to $200 each and solos run $100 per competition. $10,000 a year is definitely not unheard of.
Like in all competitive sports, dance attracts a fair number of nut jobs. And most pre-teens are, at one time or another, insufferable brats. My point is, when you marry the two together, you potentially have a recipe for crazy. That’s all I’m saying, so please don’t shank/shiv me next season! Peace out.