Friday, September 26, 2014

All That Jazz - A dance and gymnastics story

The girls are partaking in two activities this (school) year - dance and gymnastics.  Same as always.  The dance academy that they attend doesn't offer combo classes for their age/grade so we had to choose between ballet, hip hop, jazz and/or tap. And when I refer to "we" on this, it means the girls and me.  I was willing to let them each pick two and they didn't have to pick the same two but I really, REALLY wanted them to be in the ballet class.  There was some minor grumbling from Allie (ballet is too slow) but otherwise, they were all agreeable, especially after I explained to Allie that ballet is beneficial to gymnastics.

Allie really, REALLY wanted to try out hip hop, which is definitely an Allie thing.  Anna told us that she wanted to take the jazz class and Emily said that for this year, she just wanted one dance class.  She was most likely thinking ahead to the dance recital and was a bit nervous at the thought of multiple, rushed outfit changes.  Unfortunately, none of these classes were scheduled back to back, which meant that we (and when I refer to "we" here, it means me or Grammy) would be at the dance studio Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  The life of a dance mom.  Or grammy.

Then we had to add gymnastics into the mix.  I've learned that each gym is different in how they describe classes or teams but levels are universal.  Everyone understands levels 1 through 10.  After graduating from the kindergarten class, the girls were on colored teams last year.  The different colors represent different abilities but that's confusing to people who don't know that gym and I have noticed that this year, they have levels associated with the colors but everyone still refers to the classes by color. I'm going to use levels to make it easy.  So last year, Emily and Anna were in level 1a and Allie was in level 1b. In June, class registration opened for this year and the coaches told me that they weren't ready to move up and would remain in the same levels.  (It is possible to move up mid-year.) Allie was especially bummed as she really, REALLY wanted to move up to level 2a.  Emily's BFF was moved up from level 1a to 1b, which left Emily bummed out.

The girls took weekly gymnastics classes over the summer.  Allie worked really, REALLY hard on improving her skills.  She built up her muscle strength and endlessly practiced her pullover using the trapeze bar on our swing set.  She practiced so much that she ended up with bruises on her hips.  I think it's common knowledge that one does not end up a gymnastics superstar by attending a weekly one hour class and although Allie uses our living room and swing set as a gym, there's only so much she can safely work on at home. And only so much spotting I can do.  I agreed to sign her up for two weekly classes beginning in September.  One of which was to be first thing Saturday morning so that I could bring her.

Well, wouldn't you know that the last day of summer classes, the coach came out and told Grammy that they were moving Allie up to level 2a.  All of her hard work paid off! Allie's weekly class is an hour and a half long now and because they didn't have one at the same day/time that we had originally registered them for, we moved their classes to Friday.  Now, I was still open to Allie attending a class twice a week but I didn't think that working out for an hour and a half Friday evening and then returning to the gym 12 hours later for another hour and half workout would be a great idea so right now, she's at the gym once a week.  She practices some at home. Even though it's referred to as level 2, they appear to be working on level 3 skills as well.  Right now, Allie's trying to get her back walkover (different from a backbend kickover, I recently learned) and her front walkover.  Of these skills, I can do nothing.

I've seen a surge in Emily's at-home gymnastics practice since both Allie and her BFF were moved up.  I've always seen her as a little ballerina.  She likes gymnastics but her interest level is not as intense as Allie's is.  I was able to bring them to their first three gymnastics classes this year and Allie loves it even though they have to do a lot of ab and arm exercises.  Unfortunately, Anna's jazz class didn't work out so well. (sad face) To start, it was an evening class, which was late for her. It was so late that even when I took my normal train, I still arrived to the studio before the class started.  (I was there for that first class.)  This jazz class is labeled beginner, for grades 2 through 5.  There were a lot of kids (maybe around 20) and they were all bigger than her. Some of them were almost as big as me.  The class was fast paced and I think it was just too much for her body to take.  She came out during water break and cried into my arms, then wiped her eyes and returned to the class on her own to tough it out to the end.  Afterwards, any questions were met with tears so I told her that she didn't have to return.  The dance teacher has known Anna for years now and she was really good getting her through that class.  Rich and I both had thought that maybe it was going to be too much for her but I wanted to be wrong.

In a way, I am living out my childhood dreams through my kids.  When I was their age, my parents signed me up for Little League baseball and then softball.  Things were different back then - you kind of just went along with what your parents told you to do.  I want my girls to be happy in whatever they do and so far, we've achieved that.

Before I end, I want to add that the timing of their ballet class is such that I can usually catch the last half if I take my normal train.

5 comments:

BreezieGirl said...

I love hearing about their dance and gymnastics - it's also fun to see how their personalities come through in their choices.

It's great to hear how supportive you are with them doing what makes them happy and also acknowledging the work they're putting in with what they love to do.

I hope Anna will be able to find something that better suits her.

Sarah said...

Oh, yes. Different personalities for sure. Ballet is working out well for Anna, which is good. I think that next year they start up more with instruments at school and we'll see what happens. She'll be able to explore different options.

KimB said...

they often go through a stage where they don't really like ballet (our dance teacher told us this, she's seen it a lot). It's too slow and technical. But at least in our school they have to take ballet to take other, more "fun" classes. Now my daughter is 9 and is in 10 hours (!!!) of dance per week. She loves it. (It's not me, I swear! I'm going broke!)

So the anti-ballet thing will work itself out. Once they have all their friends in their ballet classes, and they get to take what they consider to be more fun dance classes, they'll probably be ok with it.

KimB said...

they often go through a stage where they don't really like ballet (our dance teacher told us this, she's seen it a lot). It's too slow and technical. But at least in our school they have to take ballet to take other, more "fun" classes. Now my daughter is 9 and is in 10 hours (!!!) of dance per week. She loves it. (It's not me, I swear! I'm going broke!)

So the anti-ballet thing will work itself out. Once they have all their friends in their ballet classes, and they get to take what they consider to be more fun dance classes, they'll probably be ok with it.

BreezieGirl said...

I'm glad ballet is working well for her. That's great that your school starts music so early! I can only imagine the noise you'll have in your house with three budding musicians though. :)