This year marks Harper's 4th year of competition dance. She was in third grade when she began, which means Michael was in kindergarten. One day a week my mother-in-law took Harper to dance, which meant that Michael and I took her the other day. Instead of trying to entertain Michael in the dance studio lobby for an hour and a half, I decided to put Michael in the tap class that went on during the middle half-hour. He ended up loving it and has taken tap every year since then. Last year he also joined a "pirate" dance class that was just for boys.
At the end of last season Michael was asked to try out for the competition team for this year. At first he didn't want anything to do with it - his immediate answer was no. I wasn't interested in forcing Michael to sign up for something that would take up a lot of his time and limit his ability to do other activities; however, I knew his not wanting to do it didn't have anything to do with dance. It had everything to do with not wanting his friends to make fun of him. We encouraged him to take the audition classes and promised we wouldn't make him do it if he ultimately didn't want to.
Michael did take those audition classes, one jazz and one ballet, and he loved them. We didn't end up doing any convincing at all - he was sold. He wanted to dance.
Flash forward to this year... Michael is dancing with the competition group. He's dancing a little over four hours a week. It took him a couple of weeks to get used to doing a quick change into dance tights two days a week after school, but he's got the hang of it now. He loves it, he's excited about it, and he's proud of what he's learning. Every class he working on musicality, strength, balance, and flexibility. I hope he's learning to respect his body, and, perhaps more importantly, the bodies of the dancers around him.
It remains to be seen whether Michael will enjoy the actual competitions this spring. I have no idea whether he'll want to do it again next year. I know he still doesn't want most of his friends to know about it. But here he is, waiting for his ride to dance a couple of weeks ago:
If he's happy, we're happy.