tap shoes and penguins

Mia has been dancing since she was two. She loves it. Dancing allows her to show off her personality in creative ways.

However, we’ve had some missteps in choosing the right dance school for Mia. We’ve participated in 3-hour dance recitals danced multiple times over three-day weekend. As fun as recitals are, when your kid only dances for about a minute-thirty during a three-hour recital, one tends to get a bit cranky. The last straw at that school was when a little boy chased and grabbed Mia during class until she cried. Because of the lack of teacher involvement to stop it, she simply did not want to go anymore and neither did I.

So, I began the search for a new dance school.

However, if you have a child who loves dance but is under four years old, finding a school who will take a child this young is no easy task. After checking numerous websites and making several calls, I only identified a handful in our general area.

After a trial class this past winter, we finally landed at the Small Fry Dance Club. A bay area parent favorite that caters to the smallest of dancers. Happily taking them as young as 18 months old.

Attentive instructors teach dance fundamentals while still having fun. Scarves, teddy bears, and noodles are effective props in learning coordination. Kid friendly music inspires small toes to twinkle and twirl. Show your style, be creative! Participate!

Senchal and Courtney are Mia’s teachers. She adores them. They are both encouraging and patient in teaching the under four crowd.

She attends every Saturday morning for an hour.

Flash forward to June and it’s time for the mid-year recital. The theme is “Song of the Heart.” Theme song from Happy Feet. Penguins and tap shoes.

Mia, a little girl with a huge personality and the spirit of a performer, is excited for show day.

The dress code is simple, just red and black. We choose black leotard, tights, and a fluffy red tutu.

The program is short and each child dances throughout the entire recital.  I’m sure it’s a long day for the dance teachers who oversee the multiple shows, but their hard work ensures the parents can enjoy their child dancing in his or her assigned show.

The recital starts with crisp alligator walks set to the song  “Just Happy to Be Me”.

When it’s Mia’s turn, she carefully walks a straight line set by a yellow piece of tape attached to the floor. Careful and precise in her steps.

Heel, toe. Heel, toe.

With each new dance, the teacher shares which skill we are watching and why it is important to their dance development.

An education for the parents, as well as for the kids.

The “Cha Cha Slide” which emphasizes right and left coordination, line dancing, and group movement.

Then “Count on Me” where the dancers show off isolation moves.

And Mia’s personal favorite, “I Am A Pizza” teaches stretching and splits. She sings this song all the time at home. That and “Slippery Fish,” another favorite.

The teachers surround the perimeter of dancers; participating along side to help each child remember all moves. CliffsNotes for choreography.

Mia watches closely.

And finally the final number, “The Song of the Heart.”

With that, I’ll share Mia’s performance with a movie.

We cheer wildly when she finishes.

I think it requires bravery to go on stage at any age, so I am impressed with Mia’s confidence at the tender age of three.

Next, a wonderfully talented high school tapper entertained us. To give a short rest for the performers. Then the teachers switched the front two lines for the back two lines and the girls did an encore of the “The Song of the Heart” number. This ensured the parents with kids in the back two rows, would now see their kids dance in the front two rows.

A very thoughtful detail.

End to end, the show takes just 35 minutes and before I know it I am back stage picking Mia up.

She receives a new patch to sew on her dance bag. A lasting reminder of her recital participation. A decorative addition to the dance bag they give each child when they start taking classes at the school.

Big hugs and lots of kisses. Mia is proud of her accomplishment.

We give her a bouquet of flowers, recognizing a job well done.

I’m so happy Mia is learning to dance in a fun and inspiring environment.

She is looking forward to many more Saturdays of swirling, twirling, tapping, and spinning.

Oh and of course, dancing in next December’s recital!

6 thoughts on “tap shoes and penguins

  1. How great! We were so annoyed by the big dance recital racket, too. So glad you found a place she loves and that clearly understands the needs of young children and how to encourage a life-long love of dance.

  2. I was on the Small Fry website trying to find the dates for the studio’s winter break and followed the link to “the rose.” I had to keep reading but decided to stop at this one as the break starts tomorrow, and I’m going to make an effort to be on time for once. I am in awe of your ability to maintain this blog with a family and full-time job. As a working mom with two boys and a girl, I’m just happy to take pictures and upload them to Shutterfly. My hats off to you, and I’ll look for your book when it’s published. By the way, our daughter Elley is the one with the red sparkly dress and black sash standing to the left of Mia if you’re facing the stage. She, too, loves the performances.

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