Six years ago our son came to me asking to dance. “Dance!”. I quickly looked around to see if this was a set up by his friends, but we were alone in the house. Was this a joke? Why now? He brings this up as dancing is becoming really uncool for teenagers.
Living in the Northwest, we have a policy in our home, everyone has an indoor winter sport. I am not really into sitting for three months of rain to cheer on winter sports, and I am not interested in having kids climbing the walls as their energy soars from confinement. The agreement is that everyone has an ongoing activity, and they have to try something new every year.
Andrew chose swimming and ballet for six years, from the age of four to ten. It’s amazing the things homeschoolers can do without all the peer pressure from “the crowd.” And when traditional school parents ask me, “Where do you have time for this?”, it’s easy to remind them that it counts for PE, we can all meet during the day when the studio is sitting empty, and our kids are even willing to keep going with unique sports through the summer.
It all started when his same aged cousin invited him to see the Nutcracker and persuaded him at the age of four, that if he danced, he could carry a sword. Sold! She needed a Cavalier and a Nutcracker while she danced the parts of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy, and he wanted to battle the Rat King with his mighty sword. Andrew advanced through basic dance, to barre, and up to the point the girls went on to pointe. (Fast forward a decade and Sugar Plum Fairy cousin is now auditioning for spots as a company dancer.)
And then dance came to an end. This studio had no “guy” classes. So he tried gymnastics, fencing, and golf. Swimming was his constant through this all, he was a solid swimmer and a great breaststroker for the relays, and eventually swam with his traditional school friends for the local public high school, earning their letter.
In middle school, Andrew missed dancing. He could not imagine returning to ballet, and we all agreed, his body was built for long distance running, swimming, or fencing, not for lifting girls above his head. So, when Andrew asked about dancing, I was shocked. His response, “I want to ballroom dance. I don’t care if I am going to get laughed at, I’d rather get laughed at now, than in high school by the girl I am trying to dance with.”
Why Ballroom Dance? Andrew’s answers:
- Someday I knew I would be thankful for knowing the basics to take a girl out on the dance floor.
- It’s an indoor sport that avoids rain and heat. (Most dance halls are air-conditioned in the summer.)
- Studios are always looking for young guys and we never had to pay for any of my lessons.
- It’s a nice way to meet some girls without having to date. My guy friends wanted to dance, but everyone is careful to not look to eager.
- Dance skills cross over into agility for other activities, greater social skills, and incredible concentration.
Brilliant. Mature. Where did this kid come from! And so he danced. He took Cha Cha, Tango, Foxtrot, Ballroom, West Coast Swing, Triple-step, Quickstep, and Waltz. He went to competitions with another homeschool teen. Arranged for eight homeschoolers to take group class together. Bought his own dance shoes. And would move the dining room table out of the room to give himself a wood dance floor.
Then all the teens became busy. Ballroom dance was abandoned. All of these young teens moved forward in their lives. They were ready to step out and dance, should the opportunity come. Until last week. We get a text from Germany, and Andrew is the highlight of the youth center’s social activity. There are about 30 guys and 15 girls in a ballroom dance class, and he is the hit for the Cha Cha and the Fox Trot. All the guys are learning how to move, and Andrew is guiding them around the floor.
Andrew texted, “Remember when I was worried that the girls would laugh. I’m the one laughing now.” All the cool guys want tips and techniques to grab the girls’ attention. It took him about ten minutes to remember some of those dips and turns, but it all came back.
See an older post: One Sport Homeschooling