Friendships, memories made in dance classes

Sometimes it’s the hidden benefits of things that really matter.

As I picked up my daughter from school, a young girl said, “Hi Laura” with the sweetest little smile on her face. “Who’s that?” I asked. She replied, “That’s one of the bumblebees from dance. She likes me.” In that moment, I knew dance was providing so much more for these girls than I realized. Sure, they learn jazz, ballet, and tap dances, but there are other things they learn as well.

Every Saturday morning there are approximately 50 to 60 girls and boys from Brocton and neighboring schools that gather for dance class, where friendships are made, memories are shared, and times are remembered. This was never more apparent than with the show this Saturday when a senior girl danced in her final recital. All the dancers, ranging in age from 3 to 18, hugged her, cried, and were visibly sad to say goodbye to her.

Even though the classes are divided into age groups, there is some overlap, because the experienced dancers help instruct the younger dancers. The dancers in this program are leaders, teachers, and mentors and are developing their self-esteem and self-confidence in the process. They are encouraged and expected to help set up prior to and clean up after recitals, which helps them be more responsible and independent, and gives them a strong work ethic. There is no tolerance for bullying or criticizing, and the dancers are expected to encourage and support one another, which helps build their abilities to get along well with others. Many of the dancers in this program have danced for years, which to me says volumes about the program and its success over the past 15 years. Kids today need a place where they feel accepted, safe and comfortable, and where they can hang out with their friends.

There is so much behind the scenes work that goes into a big recital that volunteers are always needed to help make the show a success. Parents and students are working together in dressing rooms, doing their makeup, coaching the dancers, organizing costumes and keeping students busy. With this the dancers are learning self-control, to be professional, and stay organized with their costumes.

The younger dancers look up to the older dancers, and there aren’t many programs available that include such a wide range of ages where this is seen. I am just a mom who really supports the Tap-and-toes dance program, because I see my daughter’s passion to do something she loves that gives her some physical activity, challenges her mentally, and allows her to express herself through the art of dance. The benefits of this program are far-reaching, and our children are lucky to have this program.

Jody Johnston is a Brocton resident.