Dance Followup

 Girl eating an ice cream cone. 

“Does she have any family here?” 

The instructor was standing beside my daughter as her tiny feet tap danced to “Let it Go”. She was not really following the routine everyone else was tapping out but the smile on her face made my heart melt. She was so proud to be showing off.

I stepped forward, indicating she belonged to me.

That’s my baby!

“This is the most she has done all week,” the instructor said solemnly in a loud whisper. 

My daughter looked up, a worried look playing across her face.

“Really?” I was shocked. She had been so eager….

The instructed nodded and moved off without another word to me. 

My daughter stopped dancing. 

The music was still playing. Everyone else was still dancing. She just stood there, unmoving, a look of pain and confusion on her face.

“Go on, sweetie! Keep going! You are doing great!” I encouraged. Instead, she ran over and threw herself into my arms, burying her head in my chest.

Who took my daughter and replaced her with this shy little girl?

“Baby, why don’t you go back and finish with your friends?” I whispered in her ear.

She shook her head no, refusing to look me in the eye. 

I pleaded, cajoled, threatened. The child would not budge. Instead, she sat in my lap and watched the other girls demonstrate their ballet positions.




Afterwards, while she ate a cupcake, the instructor pulled me aside and said she was just not ready for dance class yet. A mixture of guilty relief, sadness, and anger washed over me:

I don’t have to be a dance mom yet!

My little girl was clearly suffering somehow to refuse to participate all week. Lonely? Embarrassed? Worried she would not be good enough so she just didn’t try? It made me sad seeing all of these familiar emotions reflected back at me.

Why didn’t they tell me the first day of camp so I could intervene or help somehow? Why wait to tell me at the end at her mini-recital?

She still talks about dance class every day, asks when will she get to go back. She dresses up in her ballerina tutus and pirouettes around the house. 

Not yet, sweetheart. Not yet.


107 thoughts on “Dance Followup

  1. Did the instructor not understand how cruel her declaration was? Was she never a child? When I was 5 my brownie instructor told me my nail biting was “a filthy, dirty, disgusting habit”. Yes that is a quote. More than 50 years later and it still hurts. I have lovely nails now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t think she noticed. I don’t know her well enough to say that she is a bad person because of it but at least the kid wants to go back, so there is that. I wonder if this is something she will remember as an adult…

      Liked by 3 people

      • Maybe a different dance studio. She obviously wants to dance, just not there. There are a ton of them out there with people who actually love children and are sensitive to their little psyches.

        Liked by 5 people

  2. Enter ‘mother guilt.’ My daughter, who is now a mother of three little ones, tells me about her embarrassing times when a child: how she didn’t fit in, how her clothes were all wrong for the girlfriends she wanted, how she wanted to succeed in soccer but loved her ballet lessons but still was mad at me for telling her she had to choose one or the other (the practice time was the same). She and I reminisce about those times now, and as she watches her own little 6-year-old daughter, she wonders what she’s missing/doing wrong. No matter what, we can’t be there for all the hurts and disappointments of our children. But we CAN be there to hug them and let them know how much they’re loved. And I can tell, you daughter is loved very much.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I agree with the comment above- that dance instructor should have called you by the second lesson at the latest. Perhaps your daughter isn’t ready and perhaps dancing ballet is not her thing. She can try tap, jazz, hip hop – let her try them all!

    Liked by 5 people

    • She loves the ballet tutus best. I think she is considering this as a fashion decision more than a dance decision. Who can blame her? If I would not look utterly ridiculous in a tutu, I would wear one myself every single day! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Victo, wow…sad story! Just wonder what your daughter heard the instructor say (to her) right at the beginning that literally stopped her “in her tracks.” Maybe she just wasn’t getting the rhythm in class, and can work on it at home. She dresses up and still wants to go back! Would not want to squash her enthusiasm. My heart goes out to her! Okay…I’m thinking of my granddaughter who started “dance classes” at age 6. Must have had a lot of instructor encouragement to get the rhythm! At 19, she’s just finished a training year at Joffrey Ballet in NYC, and she’s now at State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara. Passion to dance starts young, and for some it persists! Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think another instructor is in order. It is that insensitive bitch that has the problem, not your daughter. This is my wheelhouse and I have a very strong opinion about age appropriate dance instructions. At that age it is about having fun moving to music and nothing more. There is plenty of time to learn the traditional positions. For now she should be getting free flow movement or pretent movement, like moving like different animals. Allowing kids to lose themselves in the music like young children do will help with the self consciousness which has been thrown on her shoulders from too much expectation too fast from this teacher. Can some kids handle formal training at a young age? Yes, but if they have natural talent, waiting won’t hurt either. Don’t throw the ballerina out with the bath water. Especially if she is asking to go back. Sorry for the rant but I have no patience for crappy instructors.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I started my daughter in dance at 3 years old and took it very cautiously, as I was a tremendously shy girl growing up and my mom “forced” me to do things I wasn’t ready for. I promised myself I wouldn’t be like that. The first 2 classes, my daughter was shy and clung to me. Instead of pushing, I just said “it’s ok” and we didn’t go back. No big deal. No pressure. About one year later, she asked if she could go back to dance class. I said we could try it again and see what she thought. Well, fast forward to 8 years old and I can’t keep her off a stage. She LOVES dancing and performing. It seems the attitude and position you are taking are RIGHT ON! Good for you. She will blossom into a secure and confident person in her own time and into the person she is meant to be whether it includes tutus or not.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Maybe one of the other kids made fun of her the first day. Nothing like having someone laugh at your dancing to make you stop immediately (says someone who knows). Regardless, that instructor should have called you way before the recital so you could have dealt with it sooner, and in private.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It sounds like the wrong fit with the instructor. Lots of young children (and older ones, too) absorb and enjoy activities, but are too shy to participate–or only do so after a lot of coaxing and/or feeling safe to do so. Perhaps a dance class that is not so focused on the end recital would work better. If your daughter wanted to go back, she must have been enjoying it. The instructor sounds thoughtless, rather than cruel to me. And perhaps she was surprised to see your daughter participating. It would have been much for her to have told you privately though!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. oh, #FLASHBACK! my, mine’s 15 now. something similar in our past and present, actually. Try getting them to start with the Debate Club . . . groan, even though, yep, really good at it, and then there’s the coach. At 15, though, its a bit different relationship with the teacher for her, for a mom, its still the same relationship now as when she was 3. What do you do with the only option for an experience is someone who will never be ready to teach your child? #tangent

    So glad, you welcome the opportunity this has brought at an early age, this is a time when you and her get to learn the important difference of comfort zones and empowering zones.

    I will tell you this, from my experience — YOUR timing is usually always the right timing, mom.

    You are the unique person who know your child better than anyone, and your instinct to push is the timing necessary for her to establish her relationship with the world as you are raising her in it. Her timing started in your womb (assuming she’s not adopted), yet even still, the instinctual and timing of ever one of your child’s natural rhythms are and have been your primary responsibility and always garnered your immediate attention. Growth and expansion have random timing, and when a child, the timing of the mother is what is crucial to raising an independent person.

    I’d say, since she was ready to at least start the show and give it a go, you just may not have the right class. Especially if there was no drama on the way to the performance and she was excited. =)

    As a little, it takes keen listening to the “goings on” to understand why she was uncomfortable in the class. Yet, from my experience, its usually less “she’s not ready” and more “she’s not empowered” — if she wasn’t comfortable at all, she would have made that perfectly clear at home that she didn’t want to go. She’s ready alright (unless there’s a meltdown before hand), she’s just not empowered to “jump in.”

    When this happened with us, it was always just no “friends.” Just because they are “classmates” doesn’t mean they are “friends” and maybe she just didn’t have a “Friend” to play with and felt like she was all alone, really, in a class of “friends” that just weren’t.

    It was soccer, in our case (I went for the team who I thought had the best coach for my daughter), it just wasn’t working, she was miserable and hated it. then, after we talked about it, we switched to a team where she had a “Friend” and even though they both fell completely out of love with soccer before they were six, they had a blast every time. In looking back, I wish I had made the effort to bring her friend to our team because they probably would have stayed with soccer because of the qualities of the first coach.

    Remember that they are going into new classes cold and some times there’s just not a “click”, don’t give up especially if she is dancing around the house all the time, there’s a class where she’s going to “click” and enjoy it. but, yes, if ANY teacher ever tells you “she is not ready,” don’t fight it, the teacher is right — even if its just in their own mind — the teacher may never actually be ready or able to teach your daughter.

    Hugs and thanks for sharing, and the moment to play with my mommy memories. =)


  10. Yeah, I’m going to agree with other commenters and say that something about the situation you describe just doesn’t sound right. A kid wouldn’t shift gears like that (happy to afraid) unless something else was going on. Did your child not hear the instructor correctly? The reaction you describe seems like she was afraid of your reaction or that she was embarrassed by what she heard the instructor say.
    I know all about that kind of motivation killing. Whenever I accidentally do that to my son, it can take a while to dig out what was going on from his perspective.
    Remember the line from Cyrano de Bergerac, “If you let fall upon me one hard word, Out of that height – you crush me!”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Let your little one wear her tutu, dance around the house with her, and let her shine being who she is, tell her to dance to her own tune is the how little girls grow into incredible women πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well I’m biased here, and suggest a different instructor. I had serious dance instruction, which was strict and would seldom pass muster with most parents I know. Meanwhile, my eldest daughter had dance at a place where it was more about fun and costumes and freedom. (Which was good, because she was not inclined to practice her frame or positions.) She enjoyed it very much, always had a great time. I say look for another studio and see what they’re all about.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “I don’t have to be a dance mom yet!”

    Did you hear harps and get bathed in light from the heavens with that revelation? Because that is beyond good news…not that you would be one, but that you may have to deal with the ones who take it to the extreme πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This sounded so much like the “I love the idea of the idea” of wanting to dance and wear a tutu and cavort across the floor rather than truly understanding what going to a dance class means. Kids find their passion, or not, as they grow and if the cost isn’t outrageous then letting them try different things keeps them moving and socializing and growing into good people.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think my dance class experience was similar. I wanted to DANCE not stand by a bar and practice pliΓ©s. I was 5. I did it, finally, but when the teacher wanted to put us in outfits my mom thought bordered on “sexy” for the Christmas recital, I was pulled out of dance class. It was 40 years before I understood the importance of technique, form, discipline and I still don’t get the concept of ‘sexy.’

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yay! She likes to dance. That’s a sign her sense of joy has not been stifled – kudos to you Victo! Another 2 months, another studio/ teacher – it’ll most likely be a completely different experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Just read all the comments. I haven’t got anything helpful to say. As an ex-teacher all I can wonder at are how many times I made insensitive remarks when I thought I was being helpful. Many times it was because I didn’t know of something about the child’s home life or something another teacher could have told me. And as a parent I wonder how many mistakes I made with my kids because I was being too hard or too soft or just plain ignorant.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ah kiddies… so fickle and certainly adhere to their own schedule for growing into or out of things. I have a dancer, she never stops performing but it wasn’t always that way. I knew she liked it, but there was a tipping point that once reached, led to endless recitals and the like. It’s terrific now, to watch her.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh be ever so grateful you got her out and away from that horrible instructor. Your daughter has the heart and soul of a faery. See if you can find a theater group where she can play out her fantasies, including costumes. She can also dance and no one will say that is not how it is done. “Instructors” like that infuriate me. Who’s to say what a six year old can or cannot do in the quest for expression.
    There is a scene in Uncle Buck where he is chastising the principal for telling him that his niece was misbehaving and he rips her a new one. MY favorite word he used was she was a silly-heart….. should we all not be a bit of a silly-heart? Definitely as six(ty)!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. aww. it’s okay! how old is your daughter?
    i teach piano and i tried teaching a really bright 4 year old a year ago. she was so eager to learn, but then during the lesson, she would stand up, run around the room dancing, leaving me at the piano. i laughed and told her mom she wasn’t ready yet too. but now it’s been a year and her older sister tells me she’s been asking when to start again…

    your daughter will be ready one day! =D

    Liked by 1 person

  21. She’ll be okay, Doc. Sometimes parents have to make up for the insensitivity of the other adults in their life. You’ll do that. And some day, she’ll be more ready.
    My daughter started at 5, and admitted early on that she was only in it for the recital, costumes and makeup !! She did learn a few steps, and the performance was sloppy, but who cares. Her teachers were encouraging. And they made it fun. Hang in there. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Aww, that’s so sad!!! 😦 She was so sick then afraid she couldn’t go, and looking forward to it so much, and now she had stage fright, yet she still loves to dance. That poor baby! Hug her for me. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  23. One of the most difficult things about being a parent is sending our little ones off into the world and trusting that others will not squelch their dreams and their hearts. And when they do, the most difficult thing in the world is refraining from wringing their neck.

    I’m glad she wants to go back. Encourage her. Maybe look around for a place/person that will let her follow her dreams, even if she is dancing to a different beat.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: My Article Read (7-11-2015) | My Daily Musing

  25. Even if she is not ready for “ballet”, ballet is not the end of it all. It is considered classic but also overrated.

    There are other forms of dance that can still capture your imagination. When you gradually introduce children to music and their cultural dance forms they learn something more important: dance is only one aspect of a bigger picture.

    B-Boying/breaking has the break beat. Tap dancing has Big Band and jazz-ballet has Jazz for instance. Reduce dance to technique and you might as well call it technique. Children have an imagination, let them use it.

    Liked by 1 person

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