Monday, March 25, 2013

I spent the weekend sitting in a dark high school auditorium watching hundreds of girls (and a few boys) dance in a competition called "Showstoppers." I've made "Dance Moms" jokes too many times, and I've sat through too many awards ceremonies where, to the dancers, the difference between a second-place gold and double platinum is everything, while to me it's just confusing.

But there's much that's good about these events, and it's taken me a little while to understand that. My dance career began and ended with one ballet class in Kindergarten. My daughter Kate, on the other hand, has loved to dance since she was small, and she thrives on these competitions with their two-hour-ahead arrival times, multiple costume changes, and in-depth discussions afterward of what worked and what didn't.

Every time I see her on stage with her teammates, I get a lump in my throat. Every single time. Partly it's because they seem so joyful. Partly it's because any awkwardness they carry around with them in the rest of their lives disappears on stage. Partly it's because I can't imagine choosing to or being able to get on stage and do what they do. And it's the choosing I admire most. Perhaps some of them have dance moms who've pushed them to be there. But mostly, I think not. I think most of these kids have chosen to dance on a stage in a high-school auditorium on a Saturday night. They're from different towns, different studios, and are different ages and abilities, but they have this one thing in common. And I'm happy to have been there to watch.

(Edgar Degas. Dancers Climbing a Stair.)


  1. I LOVE this posting. So heartfelt and I can completely relate. It's amazing to see the talents your children have and each child is so different.

  2. Thanks, Bev. I agree: They're so individual, and it's very cool to see.


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