Life lessons from the dance recital that have nothing to do with dance

Life lessons from the dance recital that have nothing to do with dance

This weekend was my daughter's dance recital. Actually, she had two of them and one additional performance the night before. Six plus hours of dance in less than two days is a lot of dance, and I realized that there is a lot of learning that can be done in that time.

Perhaps these life lessons from the dance recital are ones that I knew, but needed to relearn, or be reminded to pay more attention to them. They're also lessons that I hope my teen daughter learned or relearned this weekend, too.

1. Including others makes you a star.

I love watching the littlest dancers. They are the cutest and the funniest and really the best things ever.

There's always one dancer who waves to her parents the whole time, one who has zero desire to move her feet, and one who ends up somehow behind the row of other dancers, usually by herself.

Invariably, one of the girls will motion the girl in the back forward, and the audience responds with a heartfelt "awwww."

Including others is kind, and thoughtful. No one wants to be left behind, and we're always grateful for the person looking out for us to make sure that doesn't happen.

The spotlight is big and bright, and I love the kids who realize there is room for all of them in it.


2. Varying the tempo is a good thing.

May is a crazy busy month for many of us and it feels like everything is rush, rush, rush. The performance, however, were a mix of uptempo pieces and slower songs, and the slower portions felt like a chance to catch your breath and relax.

I adore the songs "You Can't Stop the Beat," "Love Shack," and "Everything is Awesome," but I also loved hearing "Sleeping Beauty Suite" by Tchaikovsky and "Make You Feel My Love." The mix of both fast and slow songs made it easier to appreciate both, and served as a reminder that slow times in life are lovely, and often essential.

Along those same lines, I really appreciated this post by Sarah Rudell Beach this morning on the topic of space and the need to breathe.

3. Love actually is all around.

My favorite movie is Love Actually and at the curtain call of the recitals, I couldn't help but hear Hugh Grant's voice in my head saying that iconic voice over, "Love actually is all around."  The younger dancers were looking out into the dark theater trying to spot their families, and it was so fun to see rows of their adoring fans waving at them (a few dads were fist pumping) and cheering.

Parents of older kids don't do that as much, but the joy in our hearts and our faces beaming with pride is exactly the same as those parents, although it's twinged with perhaps a bit of sadness at how incredibly quickly they went from a tiny dancer to a graceful teen.

It felt so good to be in an auditorium full of happiness and positivity, and to know that recitals just like this, full with just as much love, are taking place all around the country.

4. Practice does not always make perfect, and that's okay.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, the end result is not perfect. But it can still be wonderful. Sometimes, the imperfections are the best parts and make the most amusing memories.

5. Life rarely goes as planned.

The music stopped for one group of kids who went on like pros, as if such glitches happened every day, despite this being the only performance of the year. Some volunteers didn't show up so my husband was conscripted to hand out programs. My daughter's group had to adjust when one dancer was unable to perform.

Going with the flow is key, something I need to remind myself of often.

6. Moms are way too hard on themselves.

My job as a volunteer was to hand out flowers to those who had pre-ordered them, which meant turning in a form that was sent home weeks ago among a stack of papers about costumes, rehearsals, DVDs, etc.  Moms would see me and look crestfallen, explaining that they forgot to turn in the form or they ran out of time to stop on their way to the show. And many of them said, "I'm a bad mom."  And they seemed to truly believe that.

"No! You're not!" I would argue. "You and your child are here. The mission is accomplished!"

I don't think I was convincing, and it broke my heart. I hope that they forgot all about the flowers as soon as the lights went down, but it reminded me that we moms need to be kinder to ourselves, to focus on the wins, to be confident that our hugs and love are enough.

Prior Post: Tips for providing your adolescent with an enriching, productive summer

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