What it Takes to Be a Dance Mom
There is a separate world of dance competitions, dancing kids, and dance moms. This world is far from reality and revolves around comings and goings of practices, routines, dresses, expenses, emotions, and beauty. It can get crazy sometimes, but then you see your little girl on that dance floor looking like a queen and you forget all difficulties.
Dance world can be a hobby, a life goal, or just a way to stay graceful and fit. When my little girl started dancing ballet, she was three. I sort of wanted to live my dreams through her and also, what can be cuter than a 3 year old dancer drowning in that pink tutu?
To my surprise, we both continued with that for 2 years, on and off, but mostly on. We took group classes and enjoyed our experience. When my younger son turned 4, he also went to a few classes. He was the only one around those ballerinas and followed his sister to the point of tripping her. He was less enthusiastic about dancing, but didn't mind.
After a while we moved to Atlanta and heard about a ballroom dance studio opening 15 minutes away from us owned by Eastern Europeans. Being from Europe myself, I know that methods and quality of ballroom dancing in Europe is very different than in the USA. I was interested and both of my kids started dancing there 2 times per week in group classes.
This experience was so very different from ballet school in California! There was discipline here, nobody rolled around the floor or kept their hands in their pockets. I saw a great potential here and so did my now 9 year old girl. My son, however, decided that ballroom and Latin dancing is for girls, started throwing tantrums, crying, and at 6 years old finished his dancing carrier. His brand new dancing shoes were left virtually unused.
My daughter, however, continued and is still having fun. Some of her friends are dancing there too, so it's a socializing experience as well. Last year the studio owners found her a partner and real moving forward began.
She is now dancing 2 times per week in group classes and 2 times privately, just with her partner, or did at least, before corona put an end to that. She is currently taking Zoom class one time per week just to not forget the steps, but it's far from the progress they were making at the studio.
That's all for the history of our family dancing. Let's talk about what it really takes to be a dancer and a dance mom. First, it takes discipline and dedication. Any sport requires those same virtues, and dancing is a sport. It takes dedication and stamina from my daughter to come home from school, eat, do some homework, and go dancing. With driving it's about 1.5 hours total without traffic. And there is traffic sometimes.
Some weeks we have two classes in one day, a group and a private – that means we don't have to drive to studio 4 days a week. It doesn't happen every time, so sometimes it is four days per week.
We have participated in 3 dance competitions so far in our Bronze Newcomer category. I can see dance in my daughter's future if we can continue doing that financially and otherwise. Champions dance 5 days a week or more, they have no vacation, they breathe dance and live for it. I am not sure I want that for my child and neither does she so far, but if it changes, we are here behind her to support her through it all.
Dancing is not cheap. Lessons make up majority of costs. Monthly group lessons, 8 of them, cost $115. Each private 45-minute class is $95, which is split between partners. On average we pay about $500 per month, $600 if she needs a new outfit or register for a competition. And this money is just for amateur dancing, 2 private classes per week. I am not sure I want to know how much people pay when kids go to dance classes every single day!
Another major expense is clothes. When it comes to practice outfit, it's not too bad:
- Black leotards from Amazon are around $20-$40 and last for a long time, maybe a year. We have a few.
- Dance tights – I buy them from Target, often, for a few dollars.
- Dance skirts – one of the girl's from studio Russian mom makes all her clothes and then sells or gifts her barely used outfits to other dancers. I have a few skirts from her for $20 or free. If she makes one specifically for you, it's $50. Normally, skirts from Amazon come from China and are completely unpredictable, I tried. Serious dance stores sell such skirts for at least $100.
- Shoes for practice come from Amazon for $18 and can last for a year, so no biggie.
Competitions are way more costly than practice:
- Shoes – you can use practice shoes if they look good and are semi-new. Older dancers want sparkling shoes, preferably new each time. They can set you back hundreds of dollars. One of the best stores for everything dance, according to our dance instructor, is danceshopper.com from UK, where each pair for little girl's dance shoes are at least $97. But they sure are beautiful!
- Dress – this is the trickiest part. Dance dresses start at about $200 and can go up to $10,000 or more, but at least $2,000-$3,000 if we are talking about new ones and made to order. Used dresses and generic mass production outfits can be had for a few hundreds. There are many websites dedicated to sales of used dance clothes and there is also Etsy and eBay. I buy my daughter's dresses from that same Russian lady from the studio at $100 each used and $150 for made just for us. I plan to reuse them until they become too small and then sell them further. In other words, you can spend from $100 to thousands for every dress.
- Hair for contest can be done by me, but I am afraid to fail, which would be very likely, so I go to our dance instructor and get it done for $50. The same up do can last for 2 days of dance competitions. My goal is to do it myself, it is not that difficult.
If you have a boy dancer, your expenditure for clothing is a bit smaller– up to $50 for practice dance pants, $20-$100 for shoes, and any shirt for practice. Competition hair can definitely be done by you.
Competition costume will cost a few hundreds if you want the highest quality pants and shirt from England. You can buy something cheaper from Amazon, Capezio, and other dance dedicated sites, but always try in advance and leave yourself plenty of time for shipping and returns if needed. Coupon sites are your helpers here. Try coupons.com to score some savings.
In conclusion, dancing is rewarding for everybody involved. Kids not only look beautiful, but train their bodies and build perfect posture for life. They learn determination, goal setting, and lose fear of stage and, in a way, public speaking. It is always up to us, parents, to make sure we don't push them too far and overload them. Encouraging is needed and often, but too much pushing is against my values and I will let my kids tell me when they want to quit or if they want to go on.
When it comes to parents, we feel pride and joy watching our kids dance because few sports are this beautiful. As a result of their dancing, we are also more active and have to be disciplined in our own life to make time for all this driving. Finally, we better keep our jobs to afford all that is dance world!