Tonight was the end of dance season for kid2. Her name is Claudia. She is luckier than many grown ups I know, because at the tender age of six, almost seven, she has discovered something that she loves.
Last summer I got a letter from the studio where she had taken a jazz dance class. It was a lengthy and detailed letter inviting her to join the competitive team. I skim-read it and plunked it on the pile of correspondence (read: hamster nest) to be dealt with later. Later arrived, and I breezed back into the studio in September completely unprepared for the swirl that is the world of competitive dance.
I had my prejudices. I had misconceptions that dance was about looks and playing dress up. I had derided pageant moms and dissed putting make up on kids. I thought kid2’s interest would wane as my childhood interests had, fade away when the next or latest thing came along. I was wrong on all counts. Dance at I’ve Got Rhythm Studio is about art. It’s about expression and form and the creative interpretation of music. The costumes and makeup are props that enhance the art form. Like a frame for a painting, they complete the overall picture.
Kid2 has flourished this year. She has developed a sense of self confidence I wish every girl her age had. She has learned, laughed, and discovered that dance lights her up on the inside. After the Halloween party at the studio, I buckled her into her car seat. “Mommy,” she said. “When I dance, the inside of my heart is music and all around the outside is friends and laughter.” I stared at her. In that moment I was committing what she said to memory but I was also registering her as a person – not just a little kid I shuttled around to things, fed things, hollered at, and bathed. Fast forward to her first competition. When the music started, she turned to me and said her heart was “energied.” She didn’t have words to describe her excitement. She just knew she was where she wanted to be.
Tonight at the end of year recital, the competitive team voted to give Claudia the junior team spirit award. It goes to the person who cheers the loudest, who loves it so purely, they ooze dance. It recognizes that she feels the music, that dance makes her vibrant and that she works hard at being the best dancer she can be. As I sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks I was touched and proud. She will remember shining in that moment. She will remember being cheered for by a team she works hard to be a part of. And as everyone congratulated her, she learned that the word she could never find, to describe how she feels, is passion. That’s what she has for dance.