Hello FTT Family and thanks for joining us for another blog post! We are super excited for today’s entry because we are talking DANCE MOMS! No, not the show (although we love that too!) We’re talking our dance moms! An influential role in every dancer’s life, a dance mom is the glue that can really hold us together along our dance journeys. Whether in childhood or in our professional adult lives, our mothers know just how to be the point of support and encouragement that we need. But what is it really like being on the other end? What is a dance journey like for a dance mother? That is exactly what we will do our best to give insight ton today, with an interview with Annette Jenkins, dance mother of almost 23 years. Now if that last name sounds familiar, that’s because this particular dance mom is a special one: She’s mine! So needless to say I was honored to sit down with her and have her share a few experiences about the joys, challenges and even struggles of what it was like being a dance mom. Take a look!
Lexi: Thanks so much for sitting down with us today, Mom! First question.
When did you know your child had a passion for dance?
Annette: I knew she had a passion for dance at the age of four. Once when our local retail business that I owned was closing for the day and we were leaving heading home, we saw a dance studio across the street. You saw the students come out of the studio in their dance attire and you immediately started crying, stating that you wanted to do that. It was then that I knew that your gift had been unlocked and that it was imperative that I nurture that.
Lexi: What is the one thing about being a dance mom that you love/loved?
Annette: Well, being a recreational dancer myself and having a love for dance, I enjoyed all aspects of being a dance mom. I even loved the difficult aspects of it, because the difficult aspects of it is simply what is a part of making a great dancer. So, I loved all aspects of it. However, the thing I liked the best was starting a new dance season every year and witnessing your advancements as a dancer. I also liked watching the whole company prepare for the recital season.
Lexi: What is one thing about being a dance mom that you didn’t expect?
Annette: I didn’t expect it to be quite as consuming as it became. Generally people put their children in dance in order to nourish a talent or for it to be a recreation. There’s a percentage of dance students and parents who never get into the full commitment of it, but it’s something casual until their child tires of it or decides to do something else. However, in your case, and a small percentage of others, it was your gift and your passion. Which means we had to commit to the time consumption and the financial responsibility that comes with taking dance seriously. So as a dance parent, it’s at the top of the financial budget. Classes, costumes, dance supplies, shoes of all kinds. You have to make sure that you have supplied all that is needed to aid in making a great dancer.
Lexi: Good answer! And this actually segways into our next question.
What has been the biggest challenge of being a dance mom?
Annette: The biggest challenge was time. Figuring out ways to get you where you needed to be. You were one of the serious, committed students and your teachers understood the position that you had advanced to. So, they suggested more classes and you were willing to take them. Naturally, taking more classes comes with (more) time demands. So the biggest challenge was balancing my career, with your dance academy career.
Lexi: Fill in the blank: “My most advantageous tip/hack for getting through recital and show weekend is…
Annette: Clear your schedule! Be available, even be prepared to take vacation time if needed. Two weeks out from the recital it is very important to clear your schedule. This will allow ample time for all the rehearsals, costume glitches, last minute things that you’ll have to go get if needed. For example, you may find out in the middle of recital rehearsals that their (your child’s) pointe shoes are dying so you have to run and get new ones.
Lexi: That actually happened once!
Annette: Yeah! Those preparation weeks can be unpredictable. And also, celebrate as you go along the days leading up to recitals, so that way everyone can rest afterwards.
Lexi: Did you ever have any issues dealing with other dance parents, and if yes, how did you handle it?
Annette: Well, you won’t ever be able to please everyone. Those who do not have the ability to be neutral and be a team player, you basically just have to work around them. However, if you’re a dance mom/parent that understands that comradery in a company makes the team successful, then the majority of dance parents come together like their students/children come together and form a comradery. However, you’ll find a few that don’t understand what it means to be a village. I wouldn’t call them a challenge, it’s just something that you work around.
Lexi: What has been your proudest moment as a dance mom?
Annette: My proudest moment as a dance mom was your whole academy career, from when you started until you completely graduated. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment, but my favorite memories are when you reached pointe and all of the awards that you received for your dedication.
Lexi: And lastly, what advice would you give to new dance moms?
Annette: Let it be your child’s passion. If it isn’t your child’s passion, please don’t push them to do it. Dance is demanding and dance is rewarding, but it has to be in the heart. If it is not in the heart, the journey will be difficult. So if you see your child showing a natural disinterest for dance, don’t force them to be in it. Maybe it’s just not their passion. People can have a skill for something, but it not be their passion and if it’s not a passion, it won’t be a fulfilling life. However, if you see that passion in them, by all means support it!
Lexi: Awesome answer. Thank you so much for being with us today, Mom!
Annette: My pleasure! Thank you for having me!
And that will do it for today’s blog post! We hope you enjoyed today’s interview and we also want to give a very special thank you to all the dance moms/parents around the world. Your love, dedication and support is appreciated more than you could ever know. As always, we wish you all a lovely weekend and remember…