Most little boys and girls have big dreams, they dream of ballerinas and superheroes, they don’t aim somewhere in the middle, they shoot for the stars. Somewhere along the way we loose that, we loose the sense of wonder which allowed us to see the world as a place of opportunities and discoveries. Our view slowly changing to a place which at times can seem full of problems and obstacles. There’s something about being alongside children which brings that magic back.
My childhood dream was one of dancing, ballet was all I could talk about since I began talking, or so my mum will tell you. Our local dance school didn’t offer ballet until the age of 5 so as soon as I turned 5 I traded my wish for a pair of pink slippers and three lessons a week. I never lost the sense of wonder, but somehow dance became work, discipline and order. The love for dance was still there, it was what kept me dancing for all of my childhood and teenage years, but it did change.
Looking back on my experience with the wisdom that only time brings round, its clear to see that my training was focused on delivering a product, a ballerina. There was no focus on me as the individual, just turned out feet and and graceful arms. I can’t fault my teachers for they delivered exactly what I had signed up for. It was after all, a dance class based around discipline and technique. But I understand now that what I craved for as a young child of 3 and 4 wasn’t necessarily ballet, it was a medium in which to explore movement and music. Something which, unfortunately, I didn’t have the luck to experience in the way I now understand I needed. Because of my personality, I quickly began to see ballet as work and instead of being a fun way to learn skills, it became about perfection. It was this drive for perfection which kept me dancing into my teenage years.
There came a point in which my naturally inflexible feet, the lack of range of movement through my hips and my predisposition for pronation became too much. I couldn’t compete with naturally gifted students and thus eventually I hung up my shoes feeling defeated by the first passion I had ever known.
A part of me truly believes that had I had the opportunity to see movement and dance as a way of exploring and learning about myself early on, it might have never turned into an obsession with perfection which eventually lead to my early exit. If your child has a love for dancing and moving, they will most likely want pursue that, but how they view that pursuit, depends hugely on their first encounter with dance and movement. There is a very important place for technique and discipline, it is essential for every craft especially dance but I urge you to allow your children to develop and explore the sense of wonder that draws them to music and dance in the first place. It is through that sense of wonder that they will discover a love for an active life, be that through dance, gymnastics, team sports or whatever it may develop into later on in life. Help them by nurturing that sense of wonder, it is through this, that passions are created and thus it is this that will continue to guide them through their lives.