Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dance Mum

I am starting my fourth year as a dance Mum. It has probably taken me this long to really accept what this means. I wish I accepted this part of my life and embraced it with a big bear hug two years ago, it would have made some events less stressful, I would have thrown myself at sequin sewing with more enthusiasm.

There seems to be a bit of a stigma around dance mums. It feels like we have all been swiped with the toddlers and tiaras brush and are seen as pushy, demanding, painting our babies in unnecessary make up and dressing them in hot pants, leading them to the path of eating/body disorders and nothing but sadness when they fail to be accepted into a prestigious dance academy.

Surprise! It’s nothing like that.

There are a stack of dance schools and they all run pretty differently. Some are relaxed, they run basic classes and encourage movement and fun to music. Others focus on ballet while others go more contemporary. Some have big concert gigs and others just let everyone sit around the edge of the hall in the last week to see the final performance. 

Where we go, dance is serious business.  

Even the curls are serious. 

And we love it.

We are not in the competition stream, the girls don’t do the extra classes, but they love it all the same and aspire to be one of those kids.

A few years back, during a jazz dance, Popps had a mini anxiety attack, when the parents were allowed in to see the class dance she took off out the side door and started to run home. She cried and cried, not wanting anyone to look at her. Her dance teacher went on to teach her techniques during the next year to help her cope with ‘people watching’.  Techniques that enabled her to perform at the concert. Skills for life.

Last year we started at a new school that fitted into our schedule more. Concerts became a big deal. A really big deal. The end of year concert is so popular that is sells out a town hall THREE TIMES in one weekend.  That means I am back stage, being a crazy dance mum for days. There are costume changes and hair styling requirements; there were zips breaking and me sewing them up side stage.  I became a hair spray wielding seamstress in one weekend.

I had a lipstick in one pocket and make up remover pads in the other.

I was pretty stressed. I certainly questioned how worthy all this was in the days prior. As I struggled with curling irons and last minute practise classes I wondered if gymnastics could be easier and why didn’t my girls like netball like I did?

And then they performed.

And this mini solo happened. 

Two years after the anxiety attack when she couldn’t perform in front of 12 people, Popps performed solo in front of a few hundred.

We signed up again for 2014, we have new tap shoes, ballet slippers and jazz shoes and I dropped a weeks wages at the dance shop for hip hop clothing and leotards.

Our walls are marked with footprints as handstands are practised. Our kitchen floor is in danger of permanent dents as Immy gets her tapping under control and Popps has already smashed her face and scored a fat lip while trying to teach herself an aerial of some kind.

This year I have it all under control. I can pack a dance bag with my eyes closed and I know the secrets to getting a bun done in five seconds, I can set curls and spray paint shoes between dances.

Dance is our thing. 

We shake our tails.

I am, proudly, a Dance Mum.


  1. Proudly right there with you! I am determined to keep our dance life in my social media as much possible this year (watch for the #dancemum)! so that I can remove that stigma that I feel as well. I hate that people are always criticising me for the time & effort that Miss 13 and I dedicate to her sport, as well as the makeup and costumes. It is a friendly, fun, community we are part of and I wouldn't change it for anything. Well done to your poppet for overcoming that stage fright!

  2. Perfectly said Dance mum !! Have a great year ...

  3. I can confirm that gymnastics is not easier! Embrace the glitter, I say! x

  4. You're making me want to be a dance mum now! Bliss LOVES to dance... what's the weekend commitment like?

  5. I guess I should be thankful for boys and soccer boots. Though I miss the chance to be a dance mum.

  6. I don't mind being a dance mum either - and may or may not have shed a tear or two at concerts..... Never ceases to amaze me how little kids can perform in front of large audiences - they are braver than lots of adults!

  7. *hand up* me too! We are up to our 9th year of ballet for the big girl. She loves it. Serious but social. 3 concerts at the end of the year which drives me batty but apart from that it is all good. I do agree that there is sometimes a stigma attached..... but not at our country ballet school. Great post Claire. So glad I have never had to do curls.... give me a bun any day!

  8. happy to stay clear of dance but a happy horse pony club mum ! .. where the plaits are on the horse..

  9. loved reading this, so true the stigma to dance. it's good to focus on the positives. I also believe there is a lot of postives with dancing teenages. The relationships between families, mums, daughters, friends. Quite the unit of support really. If you let it. My Lulu has decided dancing is not for her so we're off to the netball courts!

  10. You too hey? My three are the same - although we only have 2 performances over the concert weekend :) This year I have two Jazz girls and one Ballet girl. (We now call Monday night Jallet night) I struggled a bit with the 'Dance Mum' thing as well - but girls just love to dance!! I can see my big girl dancing her way right up to adulthood. So a dance mum I shall be :)

  11. Me too hun. Nothing to be ashamed of. Dance and music makes our house tick x

  12. Reading this brings back so many memories, my Mum was also a Dance Mum. For eight years she took us to and from lessons several times a week, travelled to competitions across the state, sat up late into the night to sequin our costumes and put up with our howls of protest as she put the hair rollers into our hair. Your girls are very lucky to have such a wonderful Mum x

  13. GO YOU! My daughter has just started Physie, a mixture of jazz, ballet, modern and gym and she gets to perform at the end of the year. I can't wait to get her dressed up if she wants to, there's nothing wrong with dance mums, my mum helped us get all dressed up before we loved it. It's only when parents force there kids that there's a problem I believe. GO DANCE MUM YOU ROCK! xx

  14. Yep - with you. I never danced myself but our daughter has real talent (and I can especially say this since we adopted her)! I am a Dance Mum but not a 'Dance Mom' (as in the show).

  15. My mum was a dance mum. She made my costumes every year for 19 years....even when I had moved out of home and still danced.

  16. Oh bless you for having the patience to be a good dance mum! I was a dance mum for 2 years, then a piano mum, and now I'm a tennis mum. Nothing like variety :)

  17. I fear I inspired this blog post, for all the wrong reasons! Honestly, I think that whatever makes your kids happy is worth doing. And the confidence it's helping your gorgeous girl with is amazing. My hesitations in getting A into dancing have been based on my own past experiences, which really don't have anything to do with her or anyone else's kids, except that it makes me cautious about things like body image. I'm still glad to have found a dance school where I'm not required to sew sequins though!


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