Like most young girls, my daughter wants to be a dancer. Ballet has been a part of her life since she was three, with a short break while I added the boys to our family. We’ve been to several dance companies in that time frame. But this last year, we took a risk and decided to go to our area’s premier preparatory ballet school, Gulfshore Ballet. It was a risk because we knew that this would either determine that yes, she truly does want to be a dancer, or it was all for fun. It was a risk because quality costs more. More money, more time, more work and more commitment. It was a risk because it opens us up to a competitive world. And I didn’t know how she’d do.
She fumbled in the beginning. She had a hard time fitting in. Many of the girls have been there a while. Several attend the same school. As adults, we all know breaking into a clique is hard to do. But she danced. She worked hard, harder and with more dedication than I ever thought she’d have. And the relationships came.
Every mom wants to brag on her kid. I’ve tried very hard, because I’m not a ballet expert, to not be overly gushy about her ability. But, the truth is, she has a beautiful gift of grace, fluidity, passion and dedication that overwhelm me. Her whole heart beats for ballet…from asking for her own ballet bar, to sacrificing field trips for practice, to practicing on her own, each night. She has worked so amazingly hard, when I see it, I wonder where God will take her. Because, in spite of the risk it was this year, she’s going to be 10 years old and starting pointe next year at her instructors recommendations.
It will bring new risks. Already, competition has hurt her as older girls have said harsh things about her taking this recommendation. And at not-yet 10, she hasn’t developed enough social suave to know how to deal with it. But from these risks come some of the best conversations yet with my daughter. To explain how jealousy can rob joy. How to stand up for what you believe in. How to be firm yet kind. And ways that God’s love and grace can hold our hearts when the world hurts us.
Maybe she’ll dance for a living. Maybe she’ll teach it. Maybe she’ll decide, like so many others, that it’s not for her in the end. But, for as long as she wishes and works hard for this, and for all the life conversations that can come from it, we’ll keep taking the risks. Because if you don’t take calculated risks, what’s the pointe?