I get it. One minute you’re dropping your child off at ballet to burn some energy and the next they’re telling you how excited they are about the concert. The next thing you know the dance teacher hands you a costume invoice and concert note. It’s overwhelming.
To be honest, I’m sure a lot of dance teachers wouldn’t mind skipping over the concert. The additional unpaid hours spent planning, sourcing and negotiating what seems bigger than planning a wedding can feel superfluous to their business. Especially when a few of the parents ‘can’t be bothered’ with it all.
But we don’t do this for our indirect clients (the parents). We do all this for our direct clients – the children.
So I’m a bit sad and the inspiration behind this post has come from some very disappointing conversations that I’d had lately…
“Hi Georgia, the concert is this term isn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s correct! The class is very excited as they’ve spent a whole term practising!”
“Hmm yeah it’s just not going to work with our family schedule. You see, my husband and myself have lots of social events – personal and business – during November and December so we just can’t commit to the concert.”
“We’ve let everyone know about the date of the concert since the start of the year. We’ve also already ordered your daughters costume…”
“Yeah that’s fine. I’ll still pay for the costume and just pop it under the Christmas tree.”
“Are you sure? She’s been practising for a whole term. It’s the highlight of their year.”
“She’s danced all year. She doesn’t need a concert. It’s on a Saturday night isn’t it? Yeah we just can’t commit to that.”
Now it doesn’t end there. I then have to go to that child’s next ballet class, discreetly remove her from the concert routine and carefully ensure she doesn’t feel too excluded from the other children’s excitement.
It still doesn’t end there. At the end of the term I’ll get a phone call…
“Hi Miss Georgia, I’m just letting you know that we won’t be returning to ballet next year. For some reason it became hard to convince her to attend class and she just doesn’t enjoy it anymore…”
Well I have a very simple explanation for that.
In the lead up to the concert, your child felt like they were missing out on something. And if she didn’t then she definitely did after the concert when the other students were talking about their medals and how much fun they had performing.
Dance classes develop routine, skills and confidence. The concert on the other hand builds self esteem, a sense of accomplishment and memories. The same explanation can be applied to a child playing football. You wouldn’t let your child not play the grand final. That’s where the magic happens.
I’ve had students miss out on the concert for many reasons. Some were because the family are going away on holiday or there’s a very important birthday (like grandma’s 80th birthday!) that can’t be missed. But these kind of reasons still bring excitement to the child.
“Miss Georgia! I can’t make the concert because I’m going to Bali!”
“Well isn’t that exciting?! You’ll have the best time and can always do the concert next year!”
I can’t have this same conversation with a child whose parents have chosen their potential weekend plans over their child’s dance concert.
It breaks my heart.
You know what else breaks my heart? You think this kind of decision doesn’t affect them in the long run. But it does. I come across adults during their first adult ballet class who tell me they weren’t allowed to do their dance concert or their parents stopped taking them to class because it became too much of a hassle. Now in adulthood, they are chasing the love of ballet they were denied.
You should see the faces on these children as they leave the theatre. They’re bursting with pride and lavishing in the attention and applause from their family. They’re exhausted but they skip out of the theatre beaming from ear to ear.
After these frustrating conversations (with really only a handful of parents!) my Mum said, “I would give anything for you and your sister to be little girls again… doing your hair and makeup the morning of the concert, watching you on stage, going for a well deserved hot chocolate after the concert.”
This period of your life – when your children are young – is short. Cherish it.
Grit & Grace,