Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just Dance

Last night I had an epiphany in the most unlikely of places... a middle school auditorium.

My daughter and I went to see Asher perform a break dancing routine at the Ann Arbor Community Rec and Ed's dance program recital.  My hopes were not high.  It was a nine week Rec & Ed class, not designed for recital.  And from what my husband had told me, the rehearsals didn't promise a good show.

We were dead wrong.  My son's group is mixed-age because they didn't have enough kids to run a younger class.  Asher and one other ten year old boy, along with a slew of older teenagers and young adults, rocked the floor behind their instructor, Maurice.  They were precise when they were supposed to work together.  They were energized when they were free styling.  They were completely within themselves.  The owned their experience.  They were having FUN.  It was awesome... in every sense of the word.

Without costumes, or thirteen dollar tickets, or special shoes... they put on an amazing show!  My son has been dancing for six years at various professional dance studios.  This was the first time he took a Rec & Ed class.  THIS... was better than any recital I have ever seen him perform in.  Not to mention that he never once whined or complained to go to class each week, even though it's a half hour drive. 

At the professional studios, they are so concerned with learning precise formation, perfect moves, and providing discipline that they forget to show the kids how to love dancing.  How to feel the music run through them.  How to use their bodies to release their tensions, passions, emotions.  They are so concerned about the kids (especially in the all-boys-hip-hop) paying attention, not messing with each other while rehearsing, and staying in line, that they forget to help the kids bond together as a team... and be friends.

This break dancing class was perfect for my son.  With the multi-aged, mixed-gender grouping, Asher got the support, the encouragement, and also the higher expectations that he needs to thrive.  With Maurice teaching, my son learned how to express himself though his body, to take his frustrations of the day out on the dance floor, to feel the music run through his core.  He embraced everything, made friends, became part of a team, and loved every minute of it.

The epiphany:   It's far more rewarding to be passionate than to be precise.  Just dance.


  1. BTW, Asher starts to your left of the instructor, who is in center front. Asher's wearing a red hat and jeans. Unfortunately, the video cut out RIGHT before he got to do his solo. :(

  2. awesome. I was thinking yesterday at Fiona's gymnastics meet that the reason the sport is good for her is that perfection and precision are what it's all about, and with her OCD it's an outlet for that drive of hers to be perfect at things. But I also noticed that she missed the fun of it, she was extremely stiff when competing and honestly didn't do nearly as well as when she is in the 'relaxed' environment of class. What was missing was the passion, the fun, the heart, which is what really makes a great athlete. I'm thinking that something for fun is in order, maybe a cheer class. Thanks for your insight, it's great as always!

  3. HI, mother of the other 10 year old boy here (Maurice gave me this link). I have to totally agree with you - the performance was amazing. I stayed to watch most of the classes and the way this came together was in one sense, nothing short of miraculous and in another sense, exactly as it was meant to be. Maurice was so respectful of all of the people in the class, most notably our kids. He never talked down to them or marginalized them in any way. The other students were incredible as well - they greeted the kids as peers, supported them and cheered them on! The confidence that Gabe gained from these 9 short weeks was priceless. It was a unique and awesome experience!

    Here is a link to my video, which is fuzzy and too close and off the subjects sometimes when I was trying to take still shots at the same will be able to see most of Asher's solo and the final three minutes. He did a fantastic job and Gabe was thrilled to experience the class with him!

  4. Jen... thanks for the link! We'll see you at the last class tomorrow night! Will Gabe be there? I hope so. Maurice is awesome!!!! Gabe rocked out, too. He was amazing. BTW, I use pseudonymns on my blog to protect the innocent. I will introduce myself when I see you tomorrow. :)