Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dance Class

Riley started her first dance class today. Well, sort of her first one. Her preschool had dance classes, but they were very informal and she only did about 4 of those. She's been in music class before, but nothing else so we wanted to change things up. Perhaps dance, but we also thought about gymnastics and martial arts. I have to admit I was hesitant to go the dance route. I probably shouldn't have been as I have very fond memories of when I was in dance from age 3 - 7, but I think my memories have less to do with dance and more to do with what my dance teacher meant to me.

My parents divorced when I was three, the same time I started dance class. My teacher lived right around the corner and her dance studio was in her basement. I remember getting to her house early and occasionally she would let me into her living room where she had this glass case under her keyboard/piano thingy. It was a scene of some sort and there was a light that you could turn on. I know it doesn't sounds very exciting (and I haven't described it well), but for me it was the coolest thing ever and I felt like I was the only girl that she let play with it.

My dance teacher also helped make my recital costumes since my dad was, well, a single dad and had little skills in the way of sewing (although my dad did teach me how to darn socks with a needle, thread, and a light bulb). And one year on my birthday, I remember walking past her house on the way to my bus stop and seeing a huge sign in the window that said "Happy Birthday, Elizabeth" (Elizabeth is my first name. I was once somewhat equally called Elizabeth and Jo, and eventually Jo won out.) I felt so special that day.

I'm third from the right

That's me on the far right.

Anyway, dance sits in my memory for a different reason than it might be for others. I only stopped going to dance class because my teacher got sick. Cancer, if I recall correctly. We moved when I was 9, but I moved back to the same neighborhood when I was 18 and always think of her when I walk past her house.

My reason I was hesitant for Riley? I see so many mom's proudly showing off their daughters (rightly so) on Facebook with pictures of their dance recitals, but these young girls have a ton of make up on. It just doesn't seem right to me. I mean, I'm comfortable with older girls, but I think that would have to be over 12 or 13. But younger? It just weird me out. In fact, I wanted to avoid dance so I would never be faced with having to say 'no' to make up when everyone else was wearing it, or deciding to let her do it so she didn't have to be the odd one out. It just seems dance has become something different than when I was a kid . I mean, look at us above... our ballet shoes were all different colors, and I'm pretty sure those are fancified pajamas we are wearing, but it was good. I remember feeling special that day and having fun.

In the end, Jesse got the ball rolling and signed Riley up for dance at a local company (which was highly recommended by neighbors on NextDoor). We signed her up in July and then had to wait until September for the class to start. Jesse said that when he signed up he paid a fee for the outfits. I put it out of my head until a couple days before the class started when I decided to double check and that's when I found out the extra he paid would be for the recital outfit, but that we still needed ballet and tap shoes, a leotard, and tights. Yikes. I scrambled and got everything together. Weirdly, while Riley was getting her tap shoes sized at the store I actually teared up a little. Not sure why, but guessing it's because I know that she will love dance. I knew it would make her so happy and I love making my girl happy.

Had to try everything on when we got home to show dad

So we headed off to dance class with all the other 3 and 4 year olds. All of us parents hovering around the window looking into the studio, afraid to sit down or look away in case we missed anything. Except that one lady who obviously had been there before. She brazenly sat down and read a book. Read a book! I know that might be me in the future, but I was willing to look like the newbie mom staring away at the window in case Riley peaked over or did something super cute.

And then we went home. She said her favorite part was when they danced with streamers and that she wanted to go back next week. We took a few more picture outside, ate some dinner, took a bath, and then she crashed. Such a big, exciting day for this girl. Dancing.

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