I promise this isn’t a commercial for my daughters dance studio!

Last night my oldest daughter “competed” in a dance competition called Spirit of Dance with a few of her friends from her dance studio also competing. Last night was to be all the solo dances.

My oldest had been stressing about this night for months and getting sick a few days before it probably didn’t help her. She was a nightmare the day of the show. It’s weirdly how I know she will do great. I texted my wife in the middle of the day and just said to expect a good performance because of the attitude I was getting. Performance day and being a 14 year old girl is a deadly combination.

She had her standard audience for her solo performance. Aunts, grandparents, cousin, sister, Mom and Dad. Her family is super supportive of everything she does. They sit for hours, waiting for a 2 minute dance. Sure, Mom and Dad and sister “have to”, but everyone else doesn’t. Means a lot to us when she takes the stage and gets a loud cheer.

This night wasn’t much different than most when it comes to watching her dance. She is such a beautiful performer. She got cheers, her Dad cried. But it wasn’t just her performance that made the night for me.

Think about stepping on a stage? Most times you are performing with a group. Think about your anxiety, did you pee your pants yet? I just did and I’m just typing the story. Now, think about doing it ALL BY YOURSELF. All eyes on you as you entertain a crowd for 2 minutes. And, on this Friday there was so many girls that did this. I don’t know the real number, but it was over 50. 50 KIDS, filled with whatever is going through a teenagers brain. I can’t even imagine all the ingredients in that emotion soup in their heads.

The dance studio my daughter goes to had like 7 solos. Each girl was AWESOME. Confident and vulnerable at the same time. The perfect emotion for what their song called for.

Kids from the studio not dancing showed up and cheered their friends on. Teachers from the studio were yelling and screaming and fully invested. Such a great feeling that my daughter gets to learn from such caring people.

I’m not sure if it’s like this at other studios. It might be, and if so, our kids are growing up to be awesome people. At my daughters they are not considered a competitive studio. They do these competitions but they aren’t out for trophies and medals and placements and you can feel that in their culture. The kids definitely did not compete against each other even though they were in lots of the same categories.

They screamed when someone in their studio was on the stage, and they did the same when the awards were announced.

During the awards for my daughters performance she was announced as the 2nd place winner. It was a very proud moment for her Mom and Dad, but it wasn’t close to what makes us feel like we are doing something right. It wasn’t until a video was sent out showing my daughters reaction when she got 2nd place. You can see the biggest smile on her face, because it means her friend from her studio was going to come in 1st. That joy doesn’t come from competition. That joy comes from a studio that teaches love, friendship, and community.

One of the last performances of the night was a girl at my daughters studio that does hip-hop style. But, as she danced on stage I was sitting next to her teacher and he was losing his mind. He was screaming for her, dancing in the aisle. And when she finished he couldn’t get out of his seat fast enough to hug her and her family. That is what makes the studio great. He wasn’t critiquing every move, he was watching as a fan, as a person completely invested. My daughters teacher was the same during the performances she choreographed. Pure happiness seeing the girls perform. You could feel the joy and pride from all the teachers. Do you care about your job like that?

As the awards started this girl could not stop smiling. And, everyone from the studio, parents, teachers and kids could feel it. That is love.

Dance is something I can tell will be in my daughters life forever. It’s in her, her smile on stage is too contagious to not give to the world forever. But that smile comes from love. That smile comes from knowing that she will be pushed to her limits, but she’ll always have a hand reaching out to pick her up when she falls. They force you outside your comfort zone because they truly believe in you.

I was hoping my daughters first love would be sometime when she was 30 or so. I was hoping I’d just be okay with it. The person would just be good to her. I thought I’d be a tough guy with a gun and a reputation of being a badass. Turns out, she feel in love with dance, and a dance studio, and I’m a giant crying wimp. Life comes at you fast I guess…

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