- My daughter does competitive dance.
- Its OK if she loses.
- Its OK if she wants to do other things.
Now that you know where my head is, lets discuss.
*disclaimer. this post is my sole opinion on what I feel is right for my family. I pass no judgement what-so-ever on how much studio time you feel is right for your dancer/family*
I recently read an article on medium.com entitled “Competitive Gymnastics is Broken”.
Another blogger posted the piece in our chat group and asked for our thoughts. I didn’t make it much past the first few paragraphs before it got me thinking about our own dynamic and values when it comes to the amount of time we give up for competitive dance.
The entire piece is well written and insightful about many things. But again, I was stuck at the beginning. The beginning where the author discusses the time commitment and the normalcy behind it all.
She is very frank about it burning her out. She reached the point where she had so much gymnastics shoved down her throat that she began to hate it. Even though she loved it.
One of the first points the ‘Competitive Gymnastics is Broken’ article makes is the amount of time these gymnasts are spending training is not normal.
Sure, its competitive gymnast normal. But the author is absolutely right, its not childhood normal.
I’m not saying its not ok, I’m just agreeing that 4 hours a night 4 nights a week or more at a studio or gym etc at 6-7-8-9-10-11 years old etc is not the typical “normal” childhood.
The rehearsal requirement for our studios competition team is that they meet every other Saturday for 4 hours for competition practice and the dancers are required to take recreational ballet classes during the week.
Sure many of our dancers, including my daughter, typically take more classes during the week than required but as far as the “normal” amount of competition rehearsals and time spent training for competition for the “normal” competitive team/studio…our team is not “normal.”
Most teams have a much larger rehearsal requirement.
Unfortunately for us, this difference in the amount of time spent in rehearsal is evident when our team travels to competition.
We can clearly see the amount of training and time these girls from other studios have put into routines.
They have lived, breathed, and slept in these dances and it shows. There are dancers my daughters age that can do these incredible amazing things just flawlessly and I sit and ooooh and ahh at their routines with the rest of the audience knowing that my kid cant do anything like that.
Sometimes I feel like were “faking” the whole competition thing.
Like my daughter does do competitive dance but she still has a hard time keeping her legs straight on her splits and her feet sickle sometimes and sometimes shes pigeon toed.
Her technique isn’t the greatest.
But honestly, we haven’t really done anything to fix that. And I don’t think we intend to.
Even with our teams relaxed rehearsal schedule…I still feel like I never see my daughter and that she is growing up in a dance studio in the blink of an eye.
She has danced since she was 4 and a half years old. Competitively since she was 6 years old. And it still feels like we just stepped foot in the studio for the first time.
Over 6 and a half years has gone by and it still feels like it just started. In 6 and a half more years it will be over and she’ll be off to college.
She has won Miss Photogenic. She has won a junior regional title. Shes been overall division winner a couple times.
All with sickled feet and bent knees. Without us needing to spend more time away from home. And even if she didn’t win any of those things…we would survive.
Would I want to give up more time with her just to have her win a few more dance competitions?
No. Because what would it really matter if she did? In 5 years? In 10?
We love dance. But with the short amount of time my child is going to be a child would a few more “wins” matter? I’m not sure that it would. But I know that the time spent with my daughter would.
Don’t get me wrong, if my daughter was begging to spend more time in the studio and we could afford it we would make that happen for her. But she isn’t doing that. She enjoys her time at the studio but also enjoys her time at home.
She likes TV, and running in the backyard with the dog and she has homework. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for her to do those things AND spend more time in the studio.
We wont homeschool. Not that there’s anything wrong with homeschooling at all, its just not for us and we wont do it.
We wont spent 20 hours in a studio every week.
We wont go bankrupt paying for private lessons and extra training in an already tight schedule and squeezed budget.
We just wont do it.
In addition to not wanting to give up more family and home time there is the other part of the childhood puzzle – she wants to try other things sometimes.
Our director, and I love her like family, has this reaction of mild panic at the thought of a dancer taking a break from dance or cutting back a little to pursue other endeavors.
We as a family love being a dance family just as much as she individually loves being a dancer. So when our director puts the pressure on about why she cant take a semester off from hip hop or jazz or whatever to be in the school play, we tend to back off and cave to dance being the priority.
We fall into this trap of “If she takes a break from dance her feet are going to fall off”.
We accept the fact that she chose competitive dance and that means for the most part she has to pass on other things. But that’s just it, shes 11 years old. Shes going to want to do other things sometimes.
Am I supposed to tell her she cant ever do anything else ever because she does competitive dance?
Whether it be theater, softball, birthday parties, she has other things she wants to try and participate in.
Shes allowed to do other things sometimes. As her parent I owe it to her to give her the opportunity to do other things. Its normal for her to want to do other things.
I’m going to start letting her do other things.
My daughter is currently taking her first mini dance break. She has been on “unlimited” classes for the last several years but this semester she is also doing a brief non-dance activity and therefore the only dancing she is doing for a couple months is what is required of her for competition team.
In fact, we are thinking of staying low-key like this after her other activity is over (Gasp!).
Sometimes my daughter wants to do other things.
Don’t get me wrong, she will still do competitive dance, its in her soul, she loves it.
But she loves to throw a football. She loves to sit on her bedroom floor and make bracelets. She loves to do children’s theatre, spend the weekend at grandmas house and a whole bunch of other things that shes had to put second to dance for a long time.
She has her entire life to adhere to schedules and commitments.
I’m going to let her be a kid while she still can and if that means she comes in last every competition, so be it.
If that means we take a month off non-required classes to do softball, so be it.
If that means her technique tanks and we stop doing competition altogether, so be it.
Its ok if she loses.
And I’m pretty confident that her feet wont fall off.