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Backstage Choreography

The Surprising Truth About Being a Dance Mom

By Christina HunterPublished 9 months ago 3 min read
Backstage Choreography
Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash

The vision of the dance mom is one who yells out, "point your toes!", one who arrives with rack-n-roll in hand and chiffon billowing out of garment bags. Someone who's high on hairspray and is equipped with multiple shades of red lipstick. A chaotic, unappealing vision most would turn away from. One that stands alone, competitive and bossy.

The reality is, there's this magical flow that happens during dance recital season between the moms. A comradery settles in amongst the adults as if our own practiced routines have come together as one final number. We've spent weeks preparing, gathering our accessories and organizing ourselves.

An hour before the show is our showtime, and we are all in our places. The countdown begins, the lights are set, the signal from above queues us and the dance begins. Two moms find their places at the entrance door, booklets in hand, and gather up the dancers of the next three numbers. Names of songs and dancers are called out, counting and recounting of heads, as another Mom takes the dancers picture; a keepsake of this particular group of kids, in this particular moment in time, that have created something special. There's a mom checking hair pieces, proper shoes and doing up clasps, zippers and snaps. The final touches are complete.

They get the nod of approval and are whisked away by another two moms to the stairwell behind the stage - a nervous hush settles in. Those moms give reassuring smiles, pump them up and listen with one ear to the door for the song to end and the shuffle to continue.

Backstage, the final two moms align each dancer in their place behind the curtain, helping to calm their nerves with back rubs and hand squeezes, whispers of "you got this," and "this will be your best one yet." Looks turn from nerves to excitement. They're ready.

The lights go black, the dancers run on. The music starts. It begins.

The dancers move through their routine while blazing lights hit their rosy-cheeked faces. They move like honeybees to the rhythm of the world, expanding and collapsing in patterns of choreographed perfection. From the wings, its a vision of pointed toes and smiles to an audience of darkened bobbing heads and shining eye glasses reflecting back at them.

Just as soon as it began, the dance is done, and a mom on the other wing gathers them up like a swan with her cygnets, counting heads and tucking them in close. They are full of giggles and excitement.

"We did it!"

The door opens to the changerooms where a team of moms awaits with next-up costumes, quick changes and offers of water bottles, and reminders to eat something.

A dancer asks a hovering Mom for help with a zipper.

"Of course, do you have fishnets in your next number? I'll find them in your bag."

A dancer taps another Mom, "could you pass me my gloves and hat for my tap?"

"Here you go. I love this dance, you're smile is so great in this one."

A panic rumbles through the room, a costume has ripped. The dancer is shuffled into another room where a mom waits at her sewing station, ready for emergency repairs.

The dancers are ready for their next routines. It's back to the first two moms who start calling out their names. They line up.

A quick photo is taken; a keepsake of this particular group of kids, in this particular moment in time, that have created something special.



About the Creator

Christina Hunter

Author, Mother, Wife. Recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship award and 2017 nominee for the Women of Distinction award through the YWCA. Climate Reality Leader, Zero-Waste promoter, beekeeper and lover of all things natural.

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