I’m a supportive kind of mum. I like to go along to as many of my kids’ sporting activities and performances as possible. But when my daughter brought a letter home to say she was in a dance festival with other schools, I thought I’d give it a miss. Because it cost £10 and she would be in only one dance. I didn’t know if her dance was at the start or the end and I wasn’t sure I could spare the time if I was stuck there for hours.
Plus, if I can come over all dance mum snob for a moment, I suspected it was going to be a bit crap. It wasn’t a routine choreographed for dancers, it was a routine choreographed for anyone who wanted to have a go at dancing. A great opportunity for them, of course, but not a big deal for my daughter or me. It wasn’t going to be difficult or challenging for her, I wasn’t going to see her very best dancing. It was a waste of time and money.
Our dance schools, like all dance schools I’m sure, work on the principle of ‘best kids at the front’. In reality, that often translates as being ‘biggest kids at the front’. But this is school. It’s all inclusive, non-competitive and nice. They want all the kids to be seen, so they worked on the principle of ‘little ones at the front’. But there’s a problem with that principle, and a reason dance schools don’t use it. Little kids often struggle to learn a dance.
They needed a big kid at the front. Right in the middle. A good dancer. A dancer the little ones could follow.
They picked my daughter.
Then I wanted to watch the dance festival, despite the waste of money and despite the drain on my work time.
And then my daughter got ill and couldn’t walk.
Suddenly all I wanted was for her to get well enough to dance in that festival. And I knew that I would be there to watch it.
When she went into school on her crutch, the teachers asked if she’d be able to do it. But she was determined. She would do it if it killed her. A five minute hobble to school was all she could manage on that crutch. My little girl, who climbed Snowdon twice last year and walked nine miles of the Cotswold Way was exhausted by walking for more than five minutes. But dancing? She’d push on through the pain. (And painkillers didn’t even help, we’d tried!) It was an easy routine after all. The one thing she was worried about was the star jumps, but she showed me how she could do them by landing on the side of her foot. There was no way she was going to quit.
Luckily, her foot was (finally!) a bit better on the morning, but still not fully recovered. And we went to the dance festival. The kids danced in the round, with the audience on four sides. Where to sit? My daughter’s school was at the end of the first act.
They walked in, my daughter at the front, and danced a very energetic routine – with pompoms and a lot of star jumps. Unfortunately I’d sat in completely the wrong place and only had a side view. But I could see how good she was – and how good the whole routine was.
It might not have been the most challenging or beautiful routine in the world, but I was so proud of my daughter for taking part and for doing it so brilliantly.
Oh, and the other routines were very good too, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the whole festival.