Dance families - a perspective to honour or reject? Should we slow down to smell the roses again?

A message to families with dancers & to dancers - the all consuming ‘recreation’ ‘hobby’ ‘sport’ that takes over your lives suddenly! 

Not just your son or daughter’s life but your other children & your adult relationships. Is this really necessary though? 

No! It definitely, is not. - Dance is actually one of the most amazing activities you can put your child into when the time is right - they learn passion, discipline, team work, attention to detail, creativity, they learn to listen & take on corrections they learn that in order to improve you must work harder than you ever have before. Your child will learn that the feeling of dancing on stage is absolutely exhilarating & there is nothing else that this world could offer that is quite like it. 

I became ambitious, fearless, determined, successful & proud because dance was & always will be a part of my life journey. 

Does it define me? No, it definitely doesn’t - it has shaped me & helped to create a part of me in this life, however, I am not only driven by my success & knowledge of dance. 

My family, my friends, my education (at school until year 12), my relationships, my experiences, the good times, the hard times, the mistakes I made in the playground, the 'fights' I had with kids at school, the debates I had in year 12 English & SOR, the parties I went to, the movies, the sleepovers, the junk food I consumed, the incredible restaurants I have eaten at, the most wonderful countries I have seen, the network of people I have developed, the skills I have learned through diplomas & university, the educators & mentors who have guided me, the late night conversations with my best-friends on the phone, the incredible textures & smells I have come across….. my list is endless! This is life though!… each chapter you write yourself creates your life story………

These are some of the things that aren’t told to parents about the industry: 

  • There are very little jobs in the industry - schools are now taking far too many dancers into their full time programs.

  • Perhaps kids should be staying at school until they are 15years old - for physiological, psychological & emotional reasons. Year 11 & 12 is a safer & far more attainable age to turn to full-time for a young person to focus on their goals & pursue their chosen career at this point in their life.

  • There is a particular aesthetic attached to each genre that is required to even have a shot at making it- you should be told from the beginning if your child has what it takes.

  • Your child will have to give up childhood experiences because the hours involved are that of a full time employer these days - unless you make a conscious effort to make sure they have time ‘to be a kid’!

  • Your child may develop self-esteem issues with becoming a perfectionist & always comparing themselves to others (you have to go further a field to have a mentor to change mindset & guide them through this).

  • Just because your child gets into an overseas school doesn’t mean they automatically have a job with that company.

  • It is an unstable career - there is always someone else ready to take your spot, or what about injury!

A dancer may become obsessed with impressing the person at the front of the studio & lose their individual & special quality.

My list could actually go on but what I am trying to say is that we need to change the direction of the industry - I am going to do my best to implement changes & share a perspective that I believe should be contemplated & heard. 

I believe as teachers, educators, parents & mentors we should be instilling resilience, texture, understanding, open mindedness, education, adaptability, skilfulness, passion, willingness & humanity into young people. I think we need to empower young people who are chasing a career in dance to also want to learn other skills in other professions. So that at the end of their dance career or the end of their full time training they aren’t left without any direction for the remainder of their journey. 

I am also not saying to dancers not to follow their dreams, I am all about chasing a dream; however, making it realistic & being able to make informed decisions is empowering. There are young women & men that I believe are put on this planet to dance - they are born for it! Their physique,  their quality, their passion, their storytelling, their generosity of spirit, their attitude aligns with the requirements of the job. 

If you are still reading, then I imagine I have touched you for some reason & I urge you to contact me if you’d like. 

I feel I also have to reiterate that I absolutely love dance; I think sometimes people forget why they first fell in love with it?! Go back to that first initial feeling & open your heart back up to movement, music & the soul that is behind it. Just because you turn 17, finish school, finished your dance exams & reached a point where you feel you are no longer ‘learning’, it doesn’t mean you have to stop! You should dance for the rest of your life, that is the most incredible part about being a dancer - you can do it for the rest of your life, it never has to leave you. My very first dance teacher (she knows who she is) changed my life - she instilled an extra fire in my belly, a vision for creating something that I am passionate about & to never stop believing. I have many teachers throughout my training & career that I could pick out that gave me more than they know - for that I am grateful for. 

At the end of the day, all I want to do is support, empower & instil greatness into people first before the ‘dancer, athlete or professional’. We all need to slow down a little, live in the moment & start making conscious decisions. Not push too hard all the time & recognise the little achievements from day to day again. 

I look forward to talking with you all soon. 

Love Rebecca xx