real life

"It's about more than tu-tus, tiaras and red lipstick."

Over coffee the other day, a friend was telling me about her sister-in-law who had paid thousands upon thousands of dollars for her daughter to dance. She had been dancing since she was five, had now finished school and gone off to dance full time in Sydney.

Six months later and she was back, realising that it wasn’t what she wanted to do and was now looking at uni courses in areas completely unrelated to dance or ballet. “What a waste!” was my friend’s response. “All that money and time and all for nothing.”

I tried to bite my tongue. Really, I did. I tried to smile and nod understandingly, not really wanting to get into another round of “You don’t really get it” with my friend. And then I thought…stuff it! I stopped smiling and nodding and said (politely, of course), “Actually, you know what?! I’m going to have to correct you on that one”.

Read more: ‘Dance Moms’ has tarnished the Australian dance education industry.

"Actually, you know what?! I’m going to have to correct you on that one". Image via iStock.

I spent today with Miss 11 at her ballet showcase. She danced, I helped in the dressing room. From midday to 5:00 pm, I was surrounded by hairspray, red lipstick, tu-tus and ribbons.

I was also surrounded by team spirit, role models, dedication, compassion and bloody hard work.

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If my daughter does not pursue a career in dance, it will not have been a waste.

Because today I saw 12-year-old girls (who are stereo typically known for being egotistic and self-centred) helping control 5 year olds who were literally bouncing off walls in excitement.

I saw 12-year-old girls show compassion to one of their friends who was disappointed after a (minor, but important to her) costume malfunction.

"I saw 12-year-old girls helping control 5 year olds who were literally bouncing off walls in excitement." Image via iStock.

I saw 12-year-old girls work together to make sure they were all on stage dressed and ready to go, despite sometimes only having one or two dances to make some major costume changes.

I heard one 12-year-old girl say to her stressed out friend, while helping her during that very quick change, “It’s OK. We are a team and we won’t go on stage until you are ready to go on with us.”

I saw 12-year-old girls work with a team of adults to ensure the day ran smoothly.

I saw 12-year-old girls take time out to work on part of an upcoming dance with a fellow team member who wasn't feeling confident.

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Read more: The dance trend that is robbing our young girls of a childhood.

"I saw 12-year-old girls take time out to work on part of an upcoming dance with a fellow team member who wasn't feeling confident." Image via iStock.

The best part for me was when we were all leaving and the number of thank yous being shared between the kids and the mums that were there to help. These girls get it. They get the amount of money being spent. They get the amount of time that their mums gave up today to help and that their dads gave up to sit through three acts of dancing to watch the five dances that their daughter was in. They get it. I saw 12-year-old girls appreciate what was being done for them.

I did not spend the day at the showcase because I am under some grand illusion that my daughter is going to be a principal dancer with The Australian Ballet. I did not spend the day at the showcase because I have some unhealthy desire to dress my daughter up like a doll/beauty queen/pageant princess (yes, we've heard them all) and push her out onto the stage.

I spent the day at the showcase because my daughter learnt a lot more today than how to dance.

This post originally appeared here.

Does your daughter attend dance class? Do you find you have to defend it all the time?