In fact, we loved the dance school where my daughter danced over the last ten years.
They engendered friendships of the type you dream of for your children. Friends who stand by you, who remain your friends for a long time, possibly forever. The Diva has retained friends from her very frantic dance school, and they are gorgeous girls who she is proud to call 'BFF'.
The standard of the costumes and choreography was second to none and the annual concert was a treat indeed. You'd have to travel far to see a more professional show.
And most importantly for a dancer, the grounding she received by training there in her early dance years, is invaluable. It remains obvious now, in her less frantic dance school, that she's been trained well from when she was a tiny tot. There's just those little nuances in her posture, her pointe, her core strength, that some of the other kids lack.
So it's a tough question. Do you send your child to the 'best' dance school when they're young, and wear the expense, including competition, costumes and craziness. Or do you sit tight, and let them find their own way, find their own passion, THEN do the big move to somewhere 'serious'.
I don't know, honestly.
I've seen it work both ways.
I think we've gone about it well, albeit completely unintentionally. Good grounding, move to a less stressful place in order to face the demands of high school, and allowing passion to take over from mere performance.
As Joan commented on my other post, we'd do it over in a heartbeat. I'd probably say 'no' a bit more often, and steal her away for a weekend from time to time. We'd stress less over that missing point or two in her ballet exams, and we'd stand up to the teachers when they were rude. And believe me, they often were.
The times when I should have simply looked them in the eye and said 'EXCUSE ME...what did you just say???'.
Because that's another funny thing about dance.
We let dance teachers say things to our kids that we'd NEVER say ourselves, and in fact if anyone but the dance teacher said them, you'd likely spin your child on their heel, and have them out of their faster than they could say 'pirouette'. We let dance teachers say abominable things to US and get away with it. In my experience some dance teachers could do with a few lessons in communication to say the very least. They get away with it because of that bubble of untouchable that surrounds them. That mystique that tells us they can do something for our children that we cannot. But it also turns some of them into unpleasant souls, who must lose sleep at night.
I've had a dance teacher scream at me across a packed auditorium at an Eisteddfod. I did exactly what I've mentioned above. I spun my daughter who was dressed and ready to go on stage on her pretty little heel, and walked out of that auditorium with my head held high, and refused to give the teacher the satisfaction of any response whatsoever. I was shaking and my stomach was churning because I knew there'd be no going back. But I'd had enough, and refused to subject my child or myself to any further abuse. My daughter was crying quietly, but my dearest darling girl, held my hand tightly, and walked away proudly beside me and we never looked back...neither figuratively nor literally.
I'll add that this was not our long term dance school. It was one we bounced to due to it's reputation for ballet training. It was closer to home too, and initially appeared small and friendly. Well. The Mums and kids were friendly. That's all I'll say ;-)
It was from this interim studio, that we arrived at our current dance school. And each and every time I collect my girl from dance, and she leaps into the car, smiling, singing, and breathless with news, I know we've done the right thing.
Dance is her passion, her great love, and although she's a straight A student and could possible pursue any career her heart desired, we think dance will remain her passion. I think we've got a Dance teacher on our hands. Perhaps maybe, anyway.
And one thing is for certain. The role models she now has will mean she'll be a darned good one.