Dancing comps, oh dancing comps…

...where unfulfilled mothers have their time in the spotlight vicariously via their painted babies, instilling all their hopes and dreams for celebrity securely on the shoulders of their daughters (or sons). Celebrity counts even in the small world of New Zealand’s dancing competitions. It’s a strange environment.

Time alters when you enter the doors. You no longer measure time by the clock but by class and dancer, meal breaks and results. You can arrive in the dark and leave when it’s light, arrive in the light and leave in the dark. You sit around for hours getting high on hairspray waiting for your daughters to perform their three minute dance, with your heart in your mouth and everything crossed hoping and praying that they at least remember the steps so they don’t freak out and run off the stage; ultimate poor manners in dancing etiquette. Dancing comps are a subset of the community with its own culture and rules. Things are acceptable here that are not, outside these walls such as risqué costumes, fishnet tights and hooker-red lipstick on 12 year olds.

After the dance, another hour or two goes by while you wait for ‘results’ and the judge's measure of your precious daughter's performance and dancing potential, based on an undefined and subjective set of criteria, and pegged against the other dancers in her class. One sits in hope that the classes that you have to sit through following your daughters class in not one that involves watching 20 ten year old performing a slow tango, or slow waltz tap to terrible 60’s music, which is my own personal definition of hell – volume without skill.

But then in amongst the dross, there are the moments that make it all worthwhile. Some of these kids (even the ten year old slow tango tappers) are quite talented. Some of these kids I have seen develop over the last 5 (ooh it’s more like 8) years, who have transformed from a 6 year old stringing a collection of steps together to skilled young dancers who can tell a story with their bodies with emotion and passion. And then, occasionally you are blown away by your own precious offspring, made up beyond recognition, and certainly not ok for a mall visit. In those moments when your own daughter stuns you with their ability and performance skill, and decorum under pressure and grace and style and carriage. You can even ignore the fishnets that other mothers let their young girls wear and the temper tantrums and bad behavior (and that’s from the mothers), and get caught up in the moment.

And for just a moment I am grateful that I follow the interests of my children rather than my own. Because I realize that she has grown beyond me. She has made her own choices, followed her own heart and passion and will be ok. She will make her own decisions based on what she loves and they will be the right ones.

I know that I am letting them be themselves because this is not my world. If it were up to me, if I were living vicariously through my children they would have persisted with the piano lessons and all be learning a second instrument by now and I would be well on the way to having my very own string quartet.

But they are not. I will have to put up with the tarty costumes and lipstick for a bit longer.


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