real life

"Dear Mum: I'm so sorry for making you sit through all of my dance concerts."

I recently went to an end-of-year dance concert. It was a weekday night, it started at 7pm and I arrived full of confidence that by 10pm, I would be back at home, snuggled in bed.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about something in my entire life.

Four and a half hours later, at 11:30pm, I was still there. I watched endless group performances, solos, and ‘special guest’ appearances. Then there were speeches. And a finale. And more speeches.


It just WOULD. NOT. END.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved watching my younger family member perform and show off the hard work she’s put in over the past year on her routines. She was beautiful. I cried more than once.

But when the curtains (finally) closed, I was left with the overwhelming desire to apologise to my mum, for making her sit through all the dance concerts I’ve ever performed in.

Sorry for making you take photos of me while I did ridiculous dance poses, too.

As I tried not to doze off during ballet routines that stretched on for eternity, and attempted to hide my yawns while watching yet ANOTHER jazz solo to a Britney Spears song, I realised that my mum had been in my exact position for almost my entire life.

There were the end of year dance concerts, as well as those mid-year special performances. Oh, and don't forget those dance competitions that were on almost every weekend, the lessons I went to five days a week (including weekends) and....Oh god, Mum, I am just so, so sorry.

The obsession started young, so mum has been watching me perform since I learned to walk.

It's worth mentioning here that Mum didn't just watch me dance for a couple of years as a child: my dance career spanned for over 17 years. By the end, I was dancing semi-professionally while juggling a uni degree and mum was still there at every single performance.


At an absolute minimum, let's assume my mum came along to two, four-hour long concerts each year. That's 136 hours of sitting through the lights, camera and action of my performances over the years.

Of course, that's not counting all of the extra time she spent making sure everything was perfect and ready to go: getting me to rehearsals on time, doing my hair and makeup (and then always having to re-do my hair and makeup because "you didn't do it right, Mum!") and sewing straps and sequins onto costumes at 11pm the night before a big performance.

Mum sewed the feathers on this costume WITH HER OWN HANDS.

It's not counting the hours she spent being dragged to specialty dance shops to buy me ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe and chorus shoes. The time spent helping me comb the glue out of my hair that time one dance teacher insisted we all glued rhinestones to our ponytails. The time she put into packing me snacks, and freezing water bottles so I would always be comfortable backstage.

And, still, after all those hours, she was always, ALWAYS waiting for me at the end of every show with a smile and a bunch of flowers to say 'Congratulations!'.

What was supposed to be a casual night out with family to watch my young cousin perform turned into an astonishing recognition of how much behind-the-scenes work my mum put in to helping me split and pirouette and leap across 17 years worth of stages.

Even I look bored with the amount of dance competitions and performances I was doing...

So to every mum (or dad! Or grandma or grandpa or aunt or uncle!) feeling the pain - and the undoubtable joy, too - of prepping a budding dancer for another concert, and knowing you have four and a half hours to sit through before you see your little ballerina on stage for three minutes?

Congratulations to you.

And thank you, because you really are the true stars.