Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To Dance Or Not To Dance?

I started ballet in 1st grade, which made me about 6, and loved it. My teacher, Jill, was so sweet and all my friends were involved, too, which made it that much more fun.
As elementary went on, friends dropped out, one by one, and by 5th grade, it was only me and one other friend, Angie, that were still interested (not to mention the younger girls, but Angie and I were the oldest and most advanced).
The teacher decided to take a year off to go back to school and I was devastated. Angie and I (or our parents, rather) had to drive 45 minutes to get to a new class. Luckily, Jill came back my 6th grade year and Angie and I started Pointe.
I continued through middle school, went to a camp, and even stuck with it my freshman year when Angie stopped. Of course, wearing tights, a leotard, a huge tutu, and tons of make-up for performances during the awkward middle school and high school years doesn't fly without a few mean jabs.
I didn't care. I had the talent and loved doing it. But we lived in a small town in eastern Washington consisting of 500 people (it may even be up to 550 now) so my skills and resources were limited. When I attended that camp, I realized how far behind I actually was. I knew it would take a lot more work and effort and I would need full devotion to the sport.
After my freshman year, we moved to Utah and I stopped regular ballet lessons because I wanted to pursue other things. Needless to say, I never pursued them, but took a few modern classes in high school.
In college, my major was dance. It was great dancing there because I started in a beginners class to remind myself of words and positions, etc. I was really excited. Then, about a month after I'd made this huge life decision and could not have been happier about where my life was going, Robby and I started dating. Four months later we were married, my goals changed, and life was so much better.
Here is my situation, which is two-fold:
1) After all those years of dancing, I have recurring knee pain and inflammation that lasts a week or two and makes my life very miserable (I'm currently dealing with it now, hence the topic).
2) I really want Gracie to get into ballet but if she pursues it for years and doesn't make a career out of it (which I really hope she doesn't), she could end up with the same type of problems with her joints that I do.
Side Bar: I did a report in another English class on Ballet vs. Modern and read about all the nasty things ballet does to your body over the years: joint pain, hip-replacement, etc. I'm gonna be a rickety old lady, I'll tell you what.
So, what's your feedback? Am I crazy or is there actually some kind of solution to all this?


emidinkl said...

wow. I want to talk to you in person about this because I have had many of the same thoughts and concerns. I loved ballet as a child and still appreciate greatly the foundation it gave me as a dancer. I feel that the ballet technique is so helpful with most forms of dance. However, that being said, my genetics did not find hardcore ballet to be so friendly. I too struggled with knee and hip flexor problems. In college my focus was ballet based modern choreography. It has all the benefits of ballet technique, but is healthier for the joints etc. I plan to search for a creative movement class for children. Body awareness is the first major tool to be learned anyway. If my children have a special interest in ballet alone, I will support that pursuit then. There are just so many forms of dance, and if children are exposed to those choices, I think they know what will feel good in their bodies.
Wow. This was an epistle. Let's talk more. I wanna hear some of your dance/war stories: )

emidinkl said...

OK. last thing I promise. For anyone else reading--- I am such a huge advocate for movement classes for children--Girls and Boys alike. I had many boy friends in my dance classes as a child who grew up to be great athletes. Its mainly about that body awareness thing. The skills learned in dance can be applied to so many activities in life.
Alright. Off my soapbox.

Abbie said...

I agree with the last comments. Even if Gracie doesn't pursue ballet, taking dance classes will improve her movement, poise, and confidence.

Robster said...

Why don't you just learn her how to dance yourself. You've seen the way she moves. She's a natural. And so are you.
Love, Your hubbster

Leigh Anna said...

Love. First of all, I think you should find a dance class right now, for you...Second of all if Gracie wants to pursue it, let matter what she ends up doing, track, basketball, football even, ballet, no matter what something is going to hurt when she grows up...which yes, pain sucks, but it is also a reminder about how much fun the past has been, and I'm sure you wouldn't go back to change the past if you could get rid of that knee pain--dance is a part of who you are, it helped make your story, so let little Gracie pick what she wants her story to be when she grows up. I'd put her in different classes, music, dance, sports...and let her chose what she likes and enjoys the most...Ok thats my pretend advice! But know you were/are a great dancer, don't forget it, and I think you should pull out your toe shoes every once and awhile (as well as the makeup and tutu) and dance that skill off...I love you.

Sadie said...

This gives me second thought of putting Maddey in ballet. First of all, she is DYING to go to ballet class. She asks me every day, "Mom, is it my turn to do ballet yet?" I keep putting it off becuase I was never in any dance (clogging really doesn't count)and I'm just unsure. And although I know she has the perfect body for it and she'd probably be excellent, I secretly fear that she will want to pursue it full force and I don't want that... Does that make me a horrible mom? Email me your thoughts!!

Tina McKinnon said...

My thought is just expose her to lots of stuff and see which way the wind blows her...

Martha said...

Mel -- That post kinda of worries me now, Lizzie is doing tap and ballet, but she loves it. I was in dance too, but never went further than 9th grade.. I always wanted my girls to dance, play the piano, and play a different string instrument.. and if they decide they don't want to do it forever than I would accept that decide they made and let them do what they want to do.. I think putting kids in dance is so much fun and they really don't do that much at Lizzie's dance class, its mostly basic stuff for 50 minutes a week.

My name is Ali... said...

ok...well, I too have grown up dancing and still teach to this day. My mom put me in dance at the tender age of 2 and it stuck. She was hoping for poise and coordination, she didn't expect years of costumes and rhinestones. I got my degree in Theater and Dance and opened my own competitive dance studio. Although I enjoy ballet and think it is essential in a dancers core technique, I don't think it necessary to have a life of it, as you are already feeling with your knees. It is a short performance life with women and the payoff isn't that great (ahem, pro football for instance is a much better payoff, 1 mil a year for many rookies, if not more)...soooo many children grow up dancing but the reality is that few make it to the professional stage. However, with that said, even if you do make it, it may not be the goal that you sought for for so long. I wouldn't change the times spent practicing the craft for anything. It gives confidance, grace and it's a nice source of income should you choose to persue it after your professional career. It may not make you millions, but keep in mind, that with the many forms of dance, a good, well-trained teacher will not force turn-out and they will teach a correct landing for jumps, in attempt to prevent future knee and cartilage damage. And for you my dear, Glucosomene! I take it every morning and my joints feel great! I hope you find an amazing studio that teaches Gracie about a life of tutu's and rhinestones...and see what happens, you just never know! good luck!

Karen said...

Melanie -
I know NOTHING about dance. But let me tell you what I do know about. As I am sitting here, I am shifting back and forth to find a position in which my hips don't hurt so bad. Every morning, I wake up to knees that are popping in and out of their native position and often are accompanied by swelling. Whenver it rains, my knees cry. My posture is such that I look as though I am 20 years older than my Superbowl age ... and I did not dance ... ever. Not only did I not dance to perform, but I didn't even know how to dance IF a boy asked me to dance at the few dances I went to. I still have no sense of rhythm or any kind of dignified movement to any type of music. You might be thinking that these pains in my joints are from old age. Well, here's the deal. As a teenager, I acquired several injuries to my knees and myself ... by just falling. I fell off of school busses, off of snow skis, or just off of my own bare feet. I had (still have very little) coordination. I've had surgeries on both of my knees. It isn't ALL from old age. I really think that if I had taken some kind of body movement class, my posture would have been better,my coordination couldn't have gotten any worse for sure, and I would have known what to do when the boy was trying to lead. So although I know nothing about dance, I know from Garth Brooks that if you don't do it, you might miss the dance!

And I agree with Leigh Anna - you need to get into a class yourself. You are obviously still pining for it.

Shake your bottie girls!

Lauren said...

Well, being a dancer since I was 2, I know what you are takling about joint issues but honestly, with all of the other benefits from dancing I think you should put her in.
Dancing builds confidence, builds friendship and develops a talent...and she would probably LOVE it.

I say we take some dance classes together. I want to get back into. I ended taking classes 2 years ago :(

KatieJ said...

I never knew you were a dancer, but I agree with comments above, you should take it up again for fun! As for Gracie, I put Bella in dance as soon as she was old enough because she wanted to, but she didn't enjoy it, and it was a total pain the arse for me to take her there and chase my Grace around for 45 minutes, and it was expensive, especially the costumes, so I was thrilled when she started saying she didn't want to go anymore! Now Grace is interrested, so I might try it again but through the city or something, just for fun and excersise unless she shows a real interest and talent. I'm more concerned about the mini strippers-in-training kind of dance I see a lot of little girls doing, but ballet is different of course.

Katrina said...

Hi, I stumbled across your blog and this post caught my eye. I grew up dancing, mainly focusing on ballet until I was 18. Sadly, I didn't continue with it in college. But it remains a big part of who I am.

I think ALL children should have some sort of dance/movement education. For those with an affinity for it and talent they should be encouraged to continue and develop those skills. I don't think it makes the work any less important just because we don't all make professions of it. Lots of kids participate in basketball, football, etc without making money at it. The important thing is that is teaches body awareness and physical fitness.

As for ballet's toll on the body... yes it forces our bodies to do "unnatural" things, but it is also the foundation of all other dance. After 15 years of ballet training I don't have any lasting injuries. I don't think a parent should keep their child out of ballet for fear of injury. All sports have their risks.