Many moons ago, when boy-child was 3 years old, he saw tap dancing on Sesame Street and declared that he wanted to do that too. Within minutes I had googled the address of a local dance studio that offered tap dancing and was on the phone to them. By chance there was actually a tap class that afternoon so we headed to the studio.
As I chatted with the studio owner, boy-child stood transfixed, watching the class. The owner recommended that the he try a general dance class rather than tap as it is a much more difficult style to learn, but he was insistent that he only wanted to do tap dancing. By the time the class was over, he had already worked out how to do a few steps and was so proud of himself that the owner conceded that he was probably ready for tap and enrolled him to start the following year (there were only a few classes left in the year). Personally I think that she was so excited about having a boy wanting to dance that she would have enrolled him in any class he wanted.
Boy-child was a little overwhelmed during his first class, it was noisy and crazy and he didn’t have shoes at that stage – I wasn’t prepared to spend $80 on tap shoes if he didn’t actually like it. He insisted that he loved the class and off we went to buy shoes. He loved it.
Part way through the year he became discouraged. The other girls in the class, most of whom were more than 2 years older than him had been dancing for a number of years, could learn new steps much quicker than he could as they were adaptations of steps they knew from other classes. He then decided that he needed to do a general class so that he could get even better at his tap dancing. He was right, his tapping did improve dramatically.
The following year, he continued dancing in the two classes and finally girl-child was old enough to start dancing. I then had three trips to the dance studio each week. I didn’t mind, the familiarity was almost comforting and kids both loved it.
Last year, the girls from boy-child’s first class had moved up, but he wasn’t ready, there were girls more than 3 years older in this new class. He refused to dance with the teacher that was teaching a class that was appropriate for his age and ability. Instead, he dropped back 2 levels and joined the tap class that girl-child was starting. He still loved tapping, but was bored covering material that he already knew.
I was happy that he was still having fun, but now, not so much. After 3 years, boy-child was sick of being the only boy in his class. He stopped tap dancing and joined an all boy hip hop class at the same studio. Again, he was the youngest in the class. He was coping with the dances as well as the other older boys, in fact he was doing better than some of them but he didn’t seem to be having fun and he wasn’t excited to go to class. Last week I asked if he wanted to take a break from dancing and he was excited. I am sad that he isn’t dancing any more, but he says that he will start again, maybe next term.
Recently I have made a new friend who has a son the same age who also dances at a new local studio. She was telling me all about the classes her son attends and it sounds amazing. He goes to all boy classes and loves it, he is doing 3 different classes and is begging to do more. Instead of having a single teacher in the class, they have a teacher and 3 senior students who are studying dance full-time to help out. Each boy gets personal attention and is able to cope with the classes. It sounds fantastic.
I have been to visit the new studios and they are beautiful and inspiring, you can watch other classes before and after your own class and the whole place is clean, modern and as a friend says ‘just like the set of Fame’. I really want him to begin to dance there next term but that would mean having 2 kids dancing at 2 studios on 2 nights of the week. I could transfer girl-child to the same studio, they have classes for her at the same time, but she is still enjoying her classes. Besides that – I feel guilty. I have been loyal to our current studio for 3 years now, I know my way around there and know the other parents (even if I don’t really like many of them), it is easy, familiar and it works (kind of).
What to do? Perhaps I will leave it as it is for now. I will let boy-child decide if he wants to dance again and then see where that takes us. I am really sad that he isn’t dancing any more, but I don’t want to force him to do something he isn’t passionate about. Instead of dancing, he will be going to his first tennis lesson tomorrow after school – he seems to think that because he can thoroughly destroy me on the Wii tennis court that he should play tennis!
Edited to add – OOPS I forgot to hit post last night!