I’m a (Mediocre) Dance Mom

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 4, 2013 in Family Stuff

By now, you’ve all seen (or heard of) the show on Lifetime called “Dance Moms”.  Like the girls on that show, my daughter Emily participates in the world of competitive dance.

Emily started dancing when she was just 2 1/2 years old and last year, she joined her dance studio’s competition dance team.

I have been a soccer mom, baseball mom, wrestling mom, band mom…but until last year, I had no experience as a dance mom.  I have never danced myself (other than those crazy nights at high school dances – and I don’t think you can really call jumping up and down to 80’s punk music “dancing”), so this is a whole new world for me.

Having successfully survived one competition dance season – and about to enter into another – let me share a few things I’ve learned.

  • Competition dance teams are EXPENSIVE.  And I don’t just mean a little bit.  I mean just-leave-your-checkbook-at-the-front-desk kind of expensive.  There are costumes and entry fees and warmups and shoes and makeup and jewelry and hairpieces and tuition and bags and…well, I know there are more, but I can’t even remember what they are!  While driving with my kids today, Matt asked why we don’t have a nicer car.  I said, “Because your sister takes dance and because you play the bassoon.” (that’s a discussion for a future post) But it’s true – for what we pay for dance every month, we could be driving a high-end, German-engineered car.
  • Putting makeup on another person is DIFFICULT.  Especially when that person is 10 years old and has eyes that move around in circles when you are trying to put on eyeliner.  And putting bright red lipstick on tiny, little lips?  Crazy hard.  I have, however, mastered the art of putting false eyelashes on teensy eyes – I think I can do it in 30 seconds, flat.  Before this, I had never, ever used false eyelashes.  Not on myself and certainly not on my daughter.  Why the eyelashes and why so much makeup?  I must say that it really does help the girls to look unified onstage.  Sometimes, I can’t even pick out my own child, they all look so similar.
  • Girls (and women) can be SO mean. Ours are not as nearly as bad as the moms on Lifetime, but it’s still a tough crowd. Why are we all so hard on each other?  I wish I could answer that.  I am very easy to get along with, but even I had words with another mom last year.  Some folks just have an entitlement issue and that doesn’t sit well with me.  And when it comes to our children, watch out – the mama bear in all of us comes out, when necessary!
  • Watching dance is fun!  And watching your own child dance is especially enjoyable (but nerve-wracking too).  There’s nothing like the feeling of watching your baby up there on stage having the time of her life.  At the same time, you just hope she’s not the one to make a mistake that could cost points for the whole team (see “women are mean” above).
  • My daughter is dedicated – and tough!  She had a bad kidney infection that put her in the ER, but still managed to dance at a competition the next day.  She danced through painful planters warts and even danced at a Nationals Competition with a painful ankle injury last summer.  She wore her boot right up until going on stage – then put it back on right over her fishnets for awards.
  • There is a LOT of stuff to keep track of and carry!  Costumes, tights, hair pieces, shoes – and there’s nothing like the panic you feel when a piece of a costume goes missing (like the habit to a nun’s costume – yes, you heard me correctly).
  • Dance competitions are LONG – sometimes we arrive at 6am and don’t leave until after dinner.   Fortunately, our director signs us up only for local competitions (no flying cross-country or traveling on a tour bus like Abby Lee), so our travel time is short.  However, they also do not sell food at competitions (not sure why) – there are no soft pretzels, sodas, hot dogs…nothing.  Packing lunches and snacks are a must.
  • Competitions do not provide private dressing rooms for teams – all teams tend to be in one, big room (usually a gym or cafeteria – once, we even were just in a school hallway).  And to be in an area with tons of girls in various, unrelated costumes (lion, space alien, nun, zombie, angel…) feels a bit like some sort of very, very weird freak show.
  • I can yell REALLY LOUDLY – and do so for all of the girls on our team.
  • I love my daughter and would do anything for her – even pay a fortune to sit for hours and hours in a freak-show full of mean girls!

Today, we practiced new hair styles and makeup for the season.  Happy dancing!

Makeup Day



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