5, 6, 7, 8….

5, 6, 7, 8….

That sound makes my heart race,
I have to move
My feet can’t be stuck in one place,
There’s nothing to lose

In my element, I’m free
Easy as 1, 2, 3
Just breathe
passion takes the lead

Take your chance
Hold your stance
No second glance
Just dance, dance, dance

-Poem by Brittany Lombardi


Elevate Dance Center

Spring Show: Why and How

Spring Show is a time of celebration for dancers. This is the moment where the kids’ hard work and dedication gets showcased on stage. We want them to feel like stars, and it’s the show that really gives them their time to shine. The Spring Show is an event. And like any event, pulling it together requires resources- time, money and many hands. Here’s the truth- a production requires more than plopping down a folding chair for an hour long soccer game. Allowing our children to experience what it takes to perform live theatre entertainment can get cumbersome for the adults.  As parents, you’ve got a huge role to play. There’s costuming, dress rehearsals, tickets, videos, pictures and more. The commitment is significant whether your child performs in one number or 15, and there is time spent planning, preparing and just straight up waiting. For this alone, parents deserve a standing ovation.
    So, is it all worth it? We think so, but don’t take it from us. When asking a veteran dancer of 15 years what value Spring Show has added to her dance experience, she said, “Spring Show has given me an opportunity to perform and grow as an artist. I am able to demonstrate all the hard work I’ve put in throughout the year while spending time with the close friends I’ve made at the studio. I’ve learned the value of a production as well as all the hard work that goes into creating [one]. No matter where life takes me, I will be able to use the life skills I learned from show to succeed.”  That alum is now currently attending the University of Oklahoma where she is continuing her dance training and pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer. She lives to dance, and she’s got big dreams ahead of her.
    But what about those dancers who just love to dance right now and haven’t necessarily arrived at their life’s goal yet? Is Spring Show a big deal for them? When we asked a former dancer about her most special memories of the show, she said, “My earliest memory has to be the first time I stepped out on stage to perform “Molly Smiles.” I felt like a true ballerina in my pink tutu on the big stage and performing felt so amazing because I knew my family was so proud of me. I also vividly remember watching the “big girls” and wanting to be just like them. Seeing them dance was so inspiring!” We couldn’t agree more- Spring Show is a family affair. To make it even more enjoyable and memorable this year, we’ve collected a few pro tips from members of our dance family who’ve done it for years:

    • If your dancer is young, pack together. Don’t pack FOR him/her necessarily, but pack together. If a dancer knows all of the parts and pieces to his/her costumes, where to find the water bottle, etc. it helps the kids be responsible for their own stuff. And don’t forget to check and double check it (together)! Which brings us to the next one…
    • Let the dancers be responsible. Unless you are a designated volunteer, you will be asked to hang back and be part of the audience only. This means you have to trust your child, the volunteers and the teachers who’ve been guiding your dancer all year to get your child on and off stage safely and correctly.
    • If you do want to be involved, sign up to volunteer! There is so much to do for the Spring Show, so whatever your time allotment or talents allow, your “official” help is welcome.
    • Put down your phone and leave the cameras at home. While it’s nice to relive the moments later, it’s not the same watching them through a screen. Sit back and enjoy the performance fully present! Buy the video that’s offered if you want a lasting memory- it’s well produced and a great investment because you’ll have it for years to come.
    • Pack extras! Tights, bobby pins, water, whatever! This is one case where it’s better to have too much than not enough.
    • Congratulate everybody. Your dancer is the star of your heart, but remember to lavish the praise on everyone at this annual celebration. The other kids on stage, the teachers and the volunteers are all a vital part of making the show work. More equals more here, so please share the love!
    • Celebrate your dancer. Consider picking up flowers or a small souvenir from the booth at intermission, or take your dancer out for ice cream or dinner afterwards. When the video comes, make a batch of popcorn and watch it together. The most special memories are the ones shared together, so jump in on the excitement with your dancer!

    Another former student said, “Performances were always really special. You’ve spent the entire year working really hard and it’s a chance to show all of the improvements you’ve made and things you’ve learned. Having people there to support you is all you really need!”

    Now that says it all. It’s showtime!

    A version of this article was originally published on BellistonAcademy.com on June 14, 2017.

dancers of all ages get on stage

When I Dance

When I dance, I know exactly who I am. The chaotic world orders itself, and I know where I fit. There will be no auditions or rejections. I’m not in training anymore. In my genres, I’m a master now. So when I step into the studio every week, my heavy invisible backpack slides off my back and gets dropped at the door. I am fully alive, wide awake and comfortable in the present moment. I am ready to create.

When I dance, I am wild and authentically, uniquely me. I’ve certainly got other passions like writing and Spanish, but when I do these things I still feel encumbered. If only by threads, I am tethered.

But when I dance, I am light. Buoyant. Free. If you don’t know me, you might assume I am one of the chosen few: an up and coming dancer with her whole bright career stretched out ahead of her, or perhaps a famous industry leader with reels of credits. You’d probably never guess I could lose a few pounds, and I’m approaching middle age. If you could join me in the studio and we could move together, I’d surprise you again; you’d believe I was a much younger, more beautiful woman.

Because when I dance, I wear my soul on the outside of my body. In my everyday life, I persevere through new pursuits that pose major struggles for me, like 5am workouts and CrossFit training, and many times I fail. I can’t climb the rope. I can’t complete the “real” pull-up.  I CANNOT do one more burpee. I pause and limp along, gasping for breath when I am supposed to be running faster, going harder. I employ the help of experts to lead me and I often glimpse myself through their eyes, pathetic and stumbling. Weak. I catch myself thinking, If only these people could see me dance.

Because when I dance I am a warrior. I am strong and fierce and in command. I grow tall, my heart swells bigger my eyes flash bright, and I bring the fire. I don’t shrink myself. I do not waffle. Sometimes I fall, but I do it attempting something great, doing a thing most other people simply cannot do or would not dare. And I get back up! Every. Single. Time. I turn the music up louder, and I keep going, because dancing makes me real.
When I dance I become my best self- artist, teacher and mother- so I’m able to pull the best out of my students. Suddenly they too are doing things they once believed they couldn’t. Click! They’re in the pocket, becoming more, and I got to be the one to lead them to this special place. It might be but a moment, but we have reallydanced and so we’re forever changed. The world will never see us in our corner of the neighborhood studio week after week, and maybe they wouldn’t notice us if they did, because we are invisible to their untrained eyes. Our dancing goes virtually undetected and undocumented, but the magic has happened anyway, and I am whole.
This post was orginally published on denacronholm.wordpress.com.