Dance Moms

And no, this has nothing to do with that ridiculous reality show, sorry.

Got my ass thoroughly whipped by our sub for ballet and pointe the other night. This woman is known for her killer classes. I love them but man, you get out of that class and bemoan the fact that the building doesn’t have an elevator to get you back upstairs to the parking lot. Anyway…

So we’re all sitting around in our next class in a state of exhaustion, chatting, doing very little dancing. But at least we were talking about dancing, so that’s something, right? One of the women has a daughter who just started on pointe and somehow it came up that the woman had sewn the ribbons on her daughter’s shoes.

Whhh…whaaaaaa????

I looked at her incredulously. “Well, she’s only 11,” was the reply. (And?) Then a teacher (teacher!) says, “Oh yes, I sew my daughter’s ribbons, too.” Her daughter has been en pointe for a couple years now. And to top it all off, yet another woman, whose daughter just got her driver’s license and is in the most advanced teen class, so clearly has been en pointe for probably 5 years, pipes up with, “I sew my daughter’s, too… I keep asking her if she wants to do it, but she says no.”

OMG!!!! Seriously?!?! What is the world coming to?

And this is when I know that I am secretly a scary Russian ballet teacher (even though I’m not currently teaching). Because I fully subscribe to the theory that if you are deemed to be old enough, strong enough, mature enough to be put on pointe then you sure as hell are old enough, mature enough, and responsible enough to take care of your own shoes. Which includes sewing your own damned ribbons!

I’ll fully admit that until recently my sewing job was not the best. It certainly wasn’t attractive. My stitches usually went all the way through the satin. I never bothered to singe the ends of the ribbon or elastic with a lighter so they were usually in some degree of fray. When I actually did some research as to the type of stitches and got over my fear of having fire so close to my fingers it turned out far better. But ugly though my prior attempts had been, they worked. My ribbons and elastics stayed on the shoe and were in the right place even if it wouldn’t win me any sewing awards at the local 4-H fair. And each pair was better than the last. How do you learn if you never try? I mean, sure, the parents should know how the ribbons and elastics should be sewn and if they want to help out, fine, but by “helping out” I mean supervision, guidance, etc., not doing it for the kid. Especially not doing it for the young adult. Sorry, if you’re old enough to drive your own ass to class, then my take would be, fine, you don’t want to sew the ribbons, guess you’ll just have to dance in them without and see how well that goes!

The funny thing is that these are the same moms who say, “I’m not buying her a new pair until such-and-such date, she can dance in dead pointes.” Hm… is it that mom doesn’t want to spend boatloads of money on pointes or that she doesn’t want to have to sew more ribbons? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now I love all of these women. They are great people and great moms. The kids are all lovely. So don’t take this to be some childless woman’s rants on perceived poor parenting of others. I’m sure if I were in their shoes I’d be sorely tempted to sew the ribbons myself since I know (now) what I’m doing and it would look a 100 times better than my hypothetical kid’s attempt. But still. I really think that’s one of those times when you’ve got to step back and nudge junior to try her own wings. Accept that the sewing may look shoddy and that’s okay. The next pair will be better, and so on. The sewing is as much of a rite of passage as the actual going up en pointe.

Or am I just horribly outdated in my mode of thinking and falling into that trap of the “Well I had to walk to school uphill in six feet of snow without shoes and I never complained, you kids have it so easy these day” mindset? Hm.

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4 thoughts on “Dance Moms

  1. Oh hells no. 10 years old is the cutoff age I use. It’s hard to enforce it though, when the parents decide poor Suzie can’t do it or is too tired. Um yes she can do it – give your child some credit! And if she’s too tired or can’t (read: won’t) make time, she is not ready for the responsibility of pointe shoes!!

    Great post!

  2. Johanna says:

    Indeed. Okay, I was already 21 when I sewed my first ribbons (elastics, not satin), but pointe is serious business! Iยดm not teaching, but I would certainly expect my students to be responsible and disciplined about it. How else are you supposed to learn? If you ever get to the stage of using a pair a week, or even a pair a day, mom might be interested in doing something else already!

    Another must-share-this-post!

    Rori, please think about joining twitter – the dance community is waiting for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ew, I don’t like what this implies for these girls: that sewing is something so scary and dangerous and complex that your mamma has to do it for you.
    Moms of the world! Empower your girls! Hand them the needle and thread!
    And, like, when’s it gonna end? Like, let’s say the girl in question lands a position in a company? Suddenly she’s going from expertly sewn ribbons to her own messy first-attempt stitches? At the point in her career where ribbons should be second nature?
    Or is it secretly a cynical, “well, I know she’ll grow out of this whole ballet thing, so in the meantime I’ll just do it for her.”
    That is awful! I feel bad just thinking of it!
    And another thing! Even in my so far brief experience with pointe, I learned a lot about the shoes while sewing the ribbons. For example, my shoes, Bloch European Balance, have a little foam pad in the toe. Glued right in there. One is slightly off center, so I marked them right and left so I’d never end up with the gap under my big toe. Never would’ve noticed that if I hadn’t been all up in those shoes for, like, hours.
    Was just reading a blog called balletcat.com where the blogger was describing sewing ribbons to her soft slippers, I asked why for, she said in her school ribbons are required so they’ll know how already when they get to pointe!
    So there!
    Go on with your scary Russian teacher self!

  4. Hannah says:

    Oh, dear, I am blushing, because when I was in high school, my mother sewed my elastics and ribbons for me. (I began ballet at 15). I tried to sew them on my own and then went to her for help and watched carefully as she did it. I am 23 now and I JUST re-started ballet, so of course I am not at home anymore and have to do my own sewing, which is functional but looks pretty awful!

    I am really familiar with my shoes, though, because I spend lots of time looking them over and super gluing the worn bits to make them last longer and such. I am mesmerized by my pointes– but I’ve always been TERRIBLE with a needle and thread. ANYWAYS, some pointe shoes come pre sewn and I am always tempted to buy those. : )

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