Memoir of a dance mom- how kindness changes everything.

As I sat watching some of the little ballerinas play while I waited for Kenzie it struck me how much I miss some of the other little dancers who are no longer with us. Whose paths have led to other dance schools, other sports, or for whatever reason are no longer at the ballet. I miss them and I miss their moms who were my own little support system. It reminded me of an important lesson in kindness I work hard to pass on to Kenzie.

Kenzie has had a few studio changes in her dance life. The first change I was shocked when all of the sudden some of the moms who I called friends, just stopped being my friend. It was like a switch. Kenzie at 4 saw her first live Nutcracker and the amazing Sterling Hyltin as Sugar Plum. When Ms. Crowley, from the Canton Ballet, said if you will be 5 in the fall you can be in next year’s Nutcracker it was as if she was talking to Kenzie directly. In that moment, her decision about ballet won over everything! She was excited and wanted her dance friends to be excited with her. It was scary coming to a new studio but she was ushered in with welcome arms.

As time passed she has watched friends come in and out of her life because of her dedication to dance. She is a trouper. After the first round of tears over it, it was my heart that was really broken. I promised her mentally to do better. To seek out others who are kind and find a way to not let any kind of studio or class change harm her.

We were blessed with the best of dance friends at the ballet. The trio of her and her two dance besties and their moms made my heart light. But changes happen and the first one moved on to other passions. Then Kenzie changed and started to also do competitive dance and baton.

It was a struggle to balance Kenzie’s two worlds but she loved them and had hoped to be able to do both for a few more years. When Covid hit, Kenzie had an unexpected ballet class change that took her away from her last dance bestie. I was worried for her friend and for her. Kenzie was joining a group of girls she had seen around. She knew one or two of them from a prior jazz class. But this was a small group and it was clear from the start they were very close. I was worried for her.

Day 1 the lovely girls gathered Kenzie in as one of their own. It was as if they had just been waiting for her and honestly the moms did the same. I watched them all welcome another girl mid year. Before class was over they had invited her to their group chat so they could get to know her better. This is how dance is supposed to work. The kids look out for each other. The moms look out for each other and all the dancers. We are truly blessed.

As our year progressed we said goodbye to her former dance bestie who moved on to a different dance school. It was very bittersweet but knowing she is in a better place for her we can still celebrate that.

Kenzie this year has had to step back from competitions to step up in her role at the ballet. It has reminded me that someone leaving for their passion is something to celebrate. It is hard to see someone who is part of your group slip away because it changes your group. But we still should be happy for them. We should still love them from afar.

One thing I noticed is that not everyone is taught this. It may not even be a conscious thing. Suddenly people who were your friends and your dancer’s biggest supporters just abruptly stop. They no longer like or celebrate your dancer’s successes. They stop talking to you or your dancer in passing. That is why a studio change can feel even harder then it is.

So I teach Kenzie don’t stop. Love your friends from afar. Cheer them on even if it isn’t your personal thing. Wave to them when you see them out and try not to be hurt if they don’t wave back. Every day we go on social media and we look for at least 10 people who we can comment to. Kindness is catching and we work hard to share it.

So I challenge you to reach out to your friends who have slipped away as lives have changed. Start celebrating them and their little if you stopped. Find 10 people while you are randomly on social media or out and about and find a way to make their day brighter.

As Nutcracker season approaches, we take a moment to remember our first dance friendships and wish them well. This will be her first Nutcracker with out these two at her side.


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