I’m not really sure when it happened. I mean – it’s not like I had planned it. In the last nine years, I somehow morphed into a Dance Dad! Laugh if you will – but – know that it just might be me who has the last laugh.
Dads like to brag about their kids’ activities and accomplishments. We’re biased like that – and that’s ok. In manly social gatherings, discussions can quickly turn to sports. And a lot of dads have kids who are great in sports – and they’re happy to give you the “stats” and “play-by-play” descriptions of their kids’ latest games.
The conversation ultimately turns to me. I pause for a moment – wondering what the other dads will think when I say that I spent the last weekend watching a bunch of dancers nail a triple pirouette.
I imagine those words coming out of my mouth to a silence. Crickets chirping in the background. Mouths agape with beef-topped nachos hanging out. All of them just wondering who this guy is – and just what the heck is a triple pirouette.
But I say it anyway. I’m a Dance Dad! And, gosh darn it, I’m proud to say so!
Surprisingly enough (to me anyway), the crickets don’t chirp. Laughter does not ensue. Actually, it takes the conversation into a whole new area – one that is different than most of the same boring social gathering discussions. It’s kind of refreshing. In fact, it’s even nice to be able to have a topic on which I’m the expert in the room (unlike traditional sports – in which everyone is the expert).
It’s my chance to do my own “dad bragging.” When I say that my daughter does 20 +/- hours a week in dance, the jaws actually drop (and, yes, sometimes there are nachos visible). Then – just to keep things interesting – I get to throw in the fact that some big name football players have been known to take ballet for strength and agility training.
Herschel Walker and Lynn Swann were both known to take ballet during their careers. Most recently, I read that Steve McLendon – the 320 pound nose tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers – has been taking ballet since his senior year in college. He admits that it is “harder than anything else” he does (in an interview in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette). Take that, Football Dads!
Isn’t it also kind of interesting how many sports figures are seen on Dancing With the Stars (OK – I will NOT admit to watching that show – but NO ONE can get past the promos and the announcements of the new season’s celebrity dancers – so back off!!). I did a quick Google search to find out just how many sports figures were on that show. This search is from February of 2012 – so there are even more than those shown here. Sure – a lot of these are to get ratings (and try to give husbands an excuse to watch the show) – but it is amazing how many athletes have signed up to dance on TV.
At Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, competition is NOT a part of their program. They truly are a school that teaches dance for it’s intended purpose (as is evident in PRB’s Mission) – “to provide a center for professional training, guidance and education in classical ballet.” And that’s great! I don’t need the competition. There’s no part of my Dad-liness that is missing as a result.
In fact, I am often in awe of the progress I’ve seen with both my daughter and the other dancers I’ve watched grow up in the past nine years. To see these young people change from tiny kids (who get “Aaaaaaaawww” as they walk out on stage for the first time) to refined young adults is truly amazing!
In these past nine years, I’ve been there for both the joys and heartaches of auditions. Those times when my daughter got the part she wanted were great times of celebration! And, while hard to watch, the times when she didn’t get the part were great reasons to teach lessons on how to accept defeat with poise (for today) and work harder (for next time).
I’ve stepped up to help out backstage at different performances, too. There’s a lot that goes on to make those productions happen – and I’m happy to do my part so the show can go on. And it gives me a chance to mingle with other dedicated Dance Dads (yes – there are others). Surprisingly, a lot of those Dance Dads backstage have dancers who have long graduated from PRB (does that make them Dance Dad Emeriti?).
The next five years (when my daughter will graduate from high school) will undoubtedly go fast. Heck! I’m not even sure where the last nine years went. That being said, I’ll continue to be a proud Dance Dad. I’ll probably have trouble adjusting when I no longer have the weekly grind of dance practice around which I need to schedule. Maybe that’s why those Dance Dad Emeriti exist. They’re just Dance Dads who aren’t yet ready to be retired.
Here’s to the next five years (or more?)! Bring ’em on!!