First Time at YAGP

First Time at YAGP

first time at YAGPWe embarked on a new adventure in dance land this weekend: our first time at YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix). A truly international competition, they pride themselves as being the world’s largest global network of dance. They fulfill their mission through scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, educational and outreach activities, performances, and films.

You might have heard of YAGP through the film “First Position“. It’s available on Netflix and even if you aren’t a dancer, it worth watching. Kids from all over the world train solely for YAGP and the accolades that it brings.

first time at YAGPFor our family, we knew about YAGP only because of the film. Being in a large, metropolitan city, we tend to classify dance studios. Studio A, B, and C are where you go if you want to do serious ballet. Studio D, E, and F are good for competition. Studio G & H are for the kids who only want to dip their toes into dance. So, when we showed up this weekend to YAGP, we saw a whole lot of Studio A, B, and C.

Our studio does many competitions and conventions. It’s a different world then YAGP – by far. Our kids most definitely held their own and were choreographed appropriately for YAGP, but we don’t see a lot of ballet intensive pieces on a weekly basis. It is such an art. These kids are true athletes and the mere concentration that it takes to pull off their pieces is just astronomical.

I’m sure every weekend is different, but for us, Piper started off on Friday with her solo. We arrived about 2 hours prior, found a dressing room and let her begin stretching. At her appointed time, she found her way to the stage. She literally had to find it on her own, because I wasn’t allowed to go with her. Different then what we are used to with competitions and conventions, the stage is cleared between blocks of soloists and the dancers are allotted 30 minutes to share the stage and get a feel for how they might need to adjust their staging, etc. Piper dances her contemporary solo in bare feet, so she was happy to get a feel of the stage prior to “the real thing”.

Once we were done with solo, we were done for the day. It felt so odd to just leave, but at YAGP all awards are held until the final day of competition.

first time at YAGPThe following day, Piper had a group dance compete. This is a piece that she was so honored to be cast in, and as her mom – it’s one of my absolute favorites of not just the season, but of her time as a dancer. The group pieces run much the same way. The stage is cleared before each block so dancers can come on stage to get a feel of it. The difference with the groups is that each gets 1 minute of stage time on their own. So, the girls had to go on stage with a plan or their 1 minute would quickly slip through their hands.

On the final day of the weekend, Piper took 4.5 hours of master classes from some of the fabulous YAGP faculty. She had a contemporary, ballet, and variation workshop. Only 24 dancers in her session, so she really enjoyed it and took away some tidbits that she will (hopefully) carry over to her daily classes at her home studio. Our Houston workshops took place at the beautiful Houston Ballet facility. If you can’t get inspired in a professional facility, I don’t know where you could!

When the workshop classes ended, a fellow dance mom gathered up all of our company girls and brought them back to the site of the competition and awards. I love that YAGP has a dressy awards ceremony. Getting one foot on the stage this weekend was reason to be celebrated. I’m not being cliche in saying that either, it was truly awe-inspiring to see the dancers! So, our sweet dancers donned their best and off they went to see their fate.

All of our soloists and our group performed the strongest that they have all season. I feel like one of the reasons they did so well is because they had absolutely no pressure. They didn’t have a great understanding of what they were about to see throughout the weekend nor did they feel the pressure of qualifying for any further events. It was really a great feeling for all of them, truthfully.

first time at YAGPWhen it was all said and done, we had one senior girl in our studio that finished in the Top 12. We are so proud of her. Piper finished with a score significantly higher than what she ever expected and is over the moon!

Oh, and I’d be remiss to leave out the highlight of the weekend. Tate McRae. I’m not even kidding when I say that I gave the girl 80% of my votes each week on SYTYCD – Next Generation. She is an amazing dancer. And, she was in Piper’s age division – isn’t that just great luck LOL?!? The highlight of everyone’s weekend was seeing her. I swear I felt like the paparazzi, I was taking so many photos of this girl. And, I wasn’t the only mom – all of our girls had us on a mission. At the end of the awards ceremony, Piper finally got up the nerve to ask her for a photo. Tate was absolutely lovely in taking a photo with each of us. I know how proud I am of Piper and her talent, I can only imagine how Tate’s mom must feel — all of these girls knowing your daughter and asking for her photo. She must be bursting.

We are ready to take 2018 YAGP by storm. It truly is an amazing experience.

 

Carry On Dream Duffel Review

Carry On Dream Duffel ReviewWe were very excited to travel to Las Vegas this summer for Piper’s dance nationals. Prior to this, we competed for four summers in Florida. Luckily, we’ve always been able to drive in years past, so we welcomed a trek to new territory!

Not being able to stack suitcases and bags and duffels galore in the back of my over-sized SUV had me in a bit of a panic.We always tend to throw stuff in the car on the day we leave … things we see that we’d forgotten about, but notice on the way out the door. Getting on a plane knowing I had to have EVERYTHING … it was daunting to consider.

For four years, we had relied on our Dream Duffel to keep us organized. Truthfully, I rarely even opened it between competitions – I just left it zipped and knew that everything was inside! If you don’t take anything out, then you know it’s still there, right?

Over time, I’ve had a small, medium, and large Dream Duffel. (Here’s my original Dream Duffel review when we got our small.) I sold my small after one season and regretted it immediately. Immediately, I say.

Rewind to June 2015.

Carry On Dream Duffel Review

Photo Credit: DreamDuffel.com

Our flight to Las Vegas was on United Airlines. The medium duffel could be checked through as a normal piece of luggage. (Check your airline for size restrictions.) My plan was to take the costumes and dance shoes and place them in carry on bags, then take our clothes, toiletries, etc., and put that in the Dream Duffel. There was no way on God’s beautiful green earth that I was risking any airline losing that Dream Duffel complete with costumes. While the air staff took 3 days to locate the duffel in Tinbucktoo — we would be hung out to dry.

Then, ultimately … I decided that I really didn’t want to lug the big duffel all over Sin City. Plus, we were adding on a few days at the end of our trip which meant having to rent a car (truck/SUV) with a large enough cargo space to allow for the Dream Duffel, our luggage (4 of us), and the luggage for a set of grandparents (2 more people)!

See how this is adding up and becoming more overwhelming?

So, for a few days I lamented on how we might cope with not having a rack during competition. (We’ve never NOT had one.) Then I found out that we had 4 dances one day and 5 the next …. URGH! There was no way I wanted to handle quick changes without my best friend, the Dream Duffel.

One of the youngest girls on our team performed in just a few pieces and had the carry-on Dream Duffel. I had looked at it, talked myself in and out of it — many times. Then my best dance mom friend up and ordered one. She encouraged me to do the same. In my heart I know that this helps us both justify the purchase, and I fell right into the trap.

The carry on arrived with one day to spare and I was giddy to see if  I could actually fit all 9 costumes into the bag just for this one trip. It took a bit of thinking, but I did it!

This duffel is roomy-er than you would think with it’s size. The Dream Duffel website says that you should be able to fit 1-3 costumes inside. For regular use, I’d guess that’s pretty accurate. You’d be hard-pressed to fit more than 4 in it with hangers and all.

To pack for our trip with 9 costumes, this is what I did:

1 – I put all of our costumes in gallon Ziploc bags. (If you have bigger costumes, then you could use the bigger ones.) I put everything needed for the piece in the bag except jewelry and shoes.

Carry On Dream Duffel

2 – Then, I put the bags in the bottom of the carry-on Dream Duffel. (Make sure all the air is out of the bags!)

3 – I folded the Dream Duffel garment bags just like they came when I got them – basically in quarters. I put them on top of the Ziploc bagged costumes.

Carry On Dream Duffel

4 – Finally, I put the hangers on top.

I still had enough room to add a pair of tap shoes, a rolled-up make-up bag (this one I’m linking to comes in 11 patterns), and a rolled up jewelry organizer!

It worked great!!! I can’t say enough about this duffel. Although, this isn’t how you would want to use it every weekend, it worked awesome in a pinch! We plan to use this for our convention duffel (when we aren’t competing all of our group dances) or when we do an optional competition with just our solo or a few groups. We still have our large and medium duffels as well – I can make an argument to keep them all. They are fabulous and all of them are worth the price.

***Affiliate links used for Amazon purchases only.

Competition Dance: Expenses in Year 4

Well, it’s that time again in competition danceCompetition Dance. We’ve finished year four  and it’s time to break out the spreadsheet and total our expenses.

This year was very different for us. One – we stepped into the world of conventions and Two – we traveled far for nationals. Both of which really added to the bottom line!

Cutting to the chase – Is it a lot of money? Yes. Is there a way to do it cheaper & at a high level? I don’t think so (or not by much).

Here are our grand totals: (Click on the year to read a post on the specific expenses)
Year 1: $8,356.27 – 2 dances
Year 2: $13,565.75 – 5 dances
Year 3: $10,641.91 – 8 dances
Year 4: $18,905.29 – 9 dances

TUITION: The tuition at our studio is $300/month for unlimited classes. That is industry standard in our area. We pay tuition 10 months of the year on a company contract for a total of $3,000. We do have a deal where we can pay upfront prior to the start of the season and get a $500 discount. Most months we pay close to $1,000 in fees not including tuition, so it’s nice to have that out of the way!

CHOREOGRAPHY/CLEANING: We pay a choreography fee for every dance – group, solo, duet/trio. Group dances are $800 or $1000 and divided among the group; solos are $500; duets are $550; trio are $600. Piper competed in 1 solo, 1 duet, and 7 groups. Our total for the year was $3,600.

We typically clean solos once a week for 30 minutes. Our duet was an oddity because it was a junior and a teen dancing together. We didn’t make the schedule for a set weekly cleaning, so we cleaned substantially less than everyone else. Groups were cleaned roughly 2x a month, but what I love about our studio is that group choreo fees also cover the cleanings. It’s great to have that built in!

COSTUMES: We tried a little bit of everything with costumes this year. We did catalog. We did basics and embellished with tons of stones. We did custom. We did off the rack from Macy’s. Like I said, we tried it all. Honestly, they all looked great on stage. Some were more pricey than they should have been, but you live and learn, right? All in all, we spent just over $1,100 on costumes. (If you are in the market, I sell ours!)

Competition DanceCOMPETITION/CONVENTION FEES: This is a major chunk for us, so I’m going to split this into 2 parts: competition fees and convention fees.

(1) Competition fees: We have the option to go to competitions and/or conventions on our off weekends. We have our favorites and tend to go to the ones that are on our end of town. Solos typically run $100-110 and duets/trios/groups run between $55-65 each. You can hit up a competition fairly inexpensively in the grand scheme. We did 5 competitions last year – two as a full company taking every dance, and 3 on our own just taking our solo and twice the duet. Our competition fees came in at $1,400.

(2) Convention fees: Conventions are a different animal. First of all, you can’t just go and compete your solo – you must pay the workshop fee regardless. Our workshop fees ran between $225-295 per convention. Then, after that, you pay for dances that will compete. (Same pricing as competitions). As you can see, these weekends can turn expensive right off the bat sometimes going as high as $700-800 per weekend.

We did 5 conventions. One, we only competed our solo. At two, we only did groups. Another two, we took everything! Our convention fees topped out at $3,000 – more than double our competition fees.

The catch is that your dancer gets to also do the workshop. I’m not completely sold on conventions. But, that’s another post altogether!

p-n-jonneshaConventions can also get expensive if you stay at the hotel overnight. We did not stay the first convention and quickly decided that from then on we would. Piper dances in junior and teen groups which make for late competition nights on Friday and Saturday! Sometimes awards wouldn’t end until close to midnight. By the time we drove home, got settled in bed, and had to be back at the hotel for 8am workshop classes the next day – we met ourselves coming and going. We split a room with another dancer/mom which helped tremendously, but we still spent another $1,000 on hotel even with that!

PACKING UP: I am still absolutely in love with my Dream Duffel. They are so great and such a lifesaver. I now own a medium, large, and Carry-On duffel. (Carry-On duffel review coming soon.) They are well worth the money and their accessories are second-to-none.

TRAVEL: This was huge for us this year. We did a convention in Dallas and a convention nationals in Las Vegas. It was a lot for our family, I’ll admit. But, you have to be a bit savvy. We ended up staying at another hotel in Dallas that was close-by and where we had points. It was a bit of a pain to drive back and forth, but well worth it. Most families after the weekend was over stated that they spent nearly $1,000 on that weekend trip. (Hotel rooms often mean eating out all weekend. It’s much better if your hotel is near a mall or within walking distance of a variety of restaurants.)

With nationals being in Vegas, everyone was vying for flights. One would think that with gas prices dropping this spring – that flight prices would also drop. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Those that just went “mom and dancer” were getting a bargain at $350/seat. Our whole family went, so we used a combination of points and miles and called it our family vacation for the year!

The convention hotel was just a typical strip hotel. I searched and found a Hilton Vacation Club hotel that was connected by a mall (about a 5 minute walk) for the same price. The catch was that it had a kitchen! We ate all of our breakfasts and lunches in the room. (We packed a lunch for Piper and sent it with her each day.) That really helped the bottom line!

Using miles for flights and eating in the room helped costs tremendously. We did go to a show and called in favors from friends for other things. Overall, we finished nationals with a bill of $4,000 not including entry fees.

Next year, we are back to doing a competition nationals and for the first time, we are staying in state. I’ve noted in previous years that nationals has been a $3,000 trip for us. I anticipate that being close to the same this year as well, even with staying in state. Dancing in multiple age divisions means that Piper will dance nearly every day and at all times of the day, so we will most likely need to get a room (or rent a house) for the week. If that’s the case, the only real savings on nationals will be fuel, so I’m just dropping my budget for this week slightly!

Competition DanceSo, here we are, four years later, over $50,000 invested in a tiny little dancer. I can think of so many things that $50k could do for our family. But I also think about a statement Avery (my son, the most supportive brother ever) said right before we left for Vegas “Think of how different our life would be if Piper didn’t dance!”

It would be SOOOO different.

We’ve made incredible friends. We’ve traveled and had some great vacations/trips.

We’ve also seen a child start from scratch and hone a passion for an art. We’ve seen her form friendships that will be lifelong. We’ve seen a work-ethic develop that most adults don’t have. We’ve seen some beautiful performances from her, and we’ve seen her work her tail off to recover from upset.

… and still, to this day, Piper has never said “I don’t want to go to dance.” She aches to go every day and if she had her way would be there every time the door is unlocked!

The money is tight, and gets tighter by the minute it seems. But we’ll continue to make it work. Because, like Avery said, I can’t imagine our life without Piper dancing. And, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that she can dance for as long as her dream is alive.

Solo Performance Day

Solo Performance Day

Piper Click - solo dancerTo my beautiful dancer on your solo performance day:

Performing a dance solo is quite the task. Whether you are 5 or 18, the act of taking the stage on your own is brave beyond compare. Without the security of your friends dancing alongside of you, it’s your job to bring music to life. The creation of art lies entirely on you.

Here’s what I want you to know –

Judging is not a perfect process. But, competition offers us the gift of learning to win gracefully and lose gracefully. Every time you compete you get to practice one of these skills, and both of them will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Never be intimidated by another good dancer. Surrounding yourself with great performers will keep you pushing forward. You always need someone to look up to and admire. We are so lucky to live in an area where there are good dancers on every corner. This is a blessing!

If you see someone that dances well, tell them. If you love their song, their costume, their choreography … let them know. It’s one thing when an adult gives you a compliment, but it means much more coming from a peer.

Piper Click - dance soloFinally, and most important … Your worth as dancer is not summed up by any award that is given. The awards are nice and wonderful and great on a resume, but more times than not – the dancer that moved the audience to tears isn’t the one that’s standing in the Top 10. When you leave the venue tonight, remember that you are still as phenomenal of a dancer as when you walked in hours before. No award changes that.

Enjoy every moment you are on stage. You’ve worked so hard … I’m already bursting with pride over you and you haven’t danced a single step.

I love you!
Mom

Competition Dance Costs

Dance competition costsCompetition dance … why does this always bring up images of Abby Lee Miller?

The last time I wrote about financing competitive dance, Piper had just finished her first season. (Read that post first if you are brand new to this!) I meant to write again last year, but money is such a sensitive topic. Every time I put amounts down in black/white – I cringe. Perhaps it’s better that I waited, because a lot has happened between Year 2 and Year 3.

The biggest change for us was a change in studios. Many things led to our decision, but it was the right move for us on a lot of levels. And, now, one year later – oh my stars, we made the right move!

So, money … where are we now, what’s the same and what’s changed. First of all, I still track every penny. With that said, I can accurately account for how things have changed from year to year.

Our grand totals each year:

Year 1: $8,356.27 – 2 dances
Year 2: $13,565.75 – 5 dances
Year 3: $10,641.91 – 8 dances

For ease of comparison, I’ll call the studio we were at for years 1and 2, Studio A. Our studio for year 3 will be Studio B.

competition dance costsTUITION: This is a little different at our Studio B. Tuition covers your weekly technique classes. At Studio A, it covered your weekly technique classes and your mandatory competition dance choreography and cleanings. (So, basically, in year 1- we got classes, plus two dance choreography/cleanings in our $260/month. In year 2 – we got classes, plus three dance choreography/cleanings in our $260month.) 

At Studio B, our monthly tuition was $275/month. (That is raising to $300/month this coming year.) Piper took 11 classes each week and our tuition only covered those technique classes.

However, we are also offered the option of paying for the entire year in advance. We get a small discount when we take advantage of the offer. For our family, it’s a huge outpour of funds all at once, but it’s $300/month that we know is already paid. That comes in really handy when Christmas comes around, or an unexpected financial emergency arises.

Total for tuition (Year 2) = $2,717.50
Total for tuition (Year 3) = $2,500

CHOREOGRAPHY/CLEANING: The last time I wrote about this topic, we were only doing our mandatory dances. At Studio A, you paid a choreography fee for any “extra” dance – solo, group, duo/trio, etc. For example, we paid $350 for solo choreography, $134 for trio choreography, and $110 for a tap small group with 5 girls. 

competition dance costsAt Studio B, we pay a choreography fee for every dance. It’s nice for a few reasons. We are given the cost of each dance – a solo is $450, a duet is $550, small groups are $800, large groups are $1,000. The cost is split between the dancers in each group. For example, Piper could be cast in a group with 4 girls and our cost would be $200 for that number. But she could also be cast in a small group with 9 girls and it would be $88.89. 

Given those costs and the odds of what a “worst case scenario” could be, we are able to tell the director how many solos, duo/trios, groups we (1) think our daughter can handle and (2) our wallet can handle. 

At Studio A, for the dances that required a choreography fee, it was truly just that – choreography only. From there, you paid a “cleaning fee” every time that dance was cleaned ($35/half hour, $70/hour). This meant that I was constantly running into the studio waving cash … and needed to have odd increments of bills available at all times. It was C-R-A-Z-Y. Especially for someone (me) who HATES carrying cash. 

At Studio B, the cleaning fees for all group dances are included in the choreography cost. Thank you, Jesus! (I mean that literally.) It also means that although things are expensive on the front end, once it’s paid – it’s paid. 

Total for choreography/cleaning (Year 2) = $280 (one dance)
Total for choreography/cleaning (Year 3) = $680 (six dances)

SOLO/DUETS/TRIOS: This is another area that we hadn’t explored last time. In Year 2, we started with a solo and during spring break added a trio, so those costs might be a bit skewed. For Year 3, we did a solo and trio again.

Both Studio A and B do this the same way. You pay a choreography fee and then you pay for each cleaning separately. I think that’s industry standard. 

competition dance costsThese are the take aways that I have about a solo: A solo is worth every penny. The growth that comes from one-on-one time with your teacher is golden. 

There are many kids that do multiple solos. For us, financially, we would rather Piper be in more group dances than add another solo. When she’s older and if she still thinks that this is what she wants to REALLY do as a career, we’ll add another solo. But, for now, our choice is one solo and more groups.

Total for solo/cleanings (Year 2) = $1,155
Total for trio/cleanings (Year 2) = $333 (1/2 season)

Total for solo/cleanings (Year 3) = $1,380
Total for trio/cleanings (Year 3) = $478

COSTUMES: I now consider myself a costume expert. We’ve done catalog and custom-made, and semi-homemade (catalog, then alter it to look like something else!). I’ve also learned that a lot of what happens with a costume depends on your studio and what they consider standard. 

At Studio A, more was better. And more, and more. I love me some bling, but it was a lot! And many times the additions to the costume cost more than the basic costume. 

At Studio B, we have some gorgeous costumes, too. But, there was a bit more of a “Let’s try it like this … if we see it needs more, then we’ll add more. But, let’s not just do it because we can.” And, guess what? Many times, costumes were gorgeous “as is”. It made a difference in the bottom line.

My advice – learn to stone. Order stones wholesale. Both of these things will save you LOADS of money. And, some of the best Dance Mom moments I’ve had have come over a costume and a gross of crystals!

Total for costumes (Year 2) = $835.73 – 6 costumes
Total for costumes (Year 3) = $674.44 – 8 costumes

competition dance costsCOMPETITION FEES: Last time, I wrote about how surprised I was when the time came to pay fees for competitions. It was significantly more than I ever imagined. Well, that was with two dances … so imagine how numb I am now!

To be honest, groups aren’t much (in the grand scheme). They run $35-45 on average. Duo/trios will run approximately $60. Solos are about $100. 

The upside is that there is prize money. Whoo hooo! This is slightly different for each competition and sometimes depends on the number of entries in a category. It’s also an opportunity for studios to handle this in different ways.

Studio A – solo – the money is applied to your account; duo/trio/groups – the money is split and applied to your account. 

Studio B – solo – the money is applied to your account; duo/trio – the money is split and applied to your account; groups – the money goes to the studio.

Total for competitions (Year 2) = $1,262.82 (5 dances)
Total for competitions (Year 3) = $1,601.68 (8 dances)

CONVENTIONS: When I write you this time next year, I will be an expert in this field. Our studio is doing all conventions next year with the exception of one competition. (Even doing a convention nationals!) We did one convention this year and Piper loved it. For me, I love that there are scholarship opportunities and (in our case, at least) the teachers in the sessions are amazing. 

Of course, they are more expensive. For Piper’s age, we are looking at $225-260/per convention + competition fees. I’m thinking that it will add about $1,000 to our overall costs. We will have to weigh whether or not we stay in the convention hotel or drive back/forth from home for the local events. Staying in the hotel is another added cost, so we’ll play that one by ear.

competition dance costsATTIRE: With a change in studio, brought a new change in attire (logo jacket/pants). My best advice for this is “buy with room to grow”. I got two seasons out of Piper’s attire for Studio A, and I will get 2 years and possibly more out of Studio B. 

STUFF: I still love “the stuff” … the DVDs, the photos, the shirts, the programs … I’m a sucker. It’s probably worse because I’m such a memory keeper with scrapbooking and Project Life. But, I have learned when to pass it by and when to buy, but more often then not – I’ll buy. 

PACKING IT UP: I’m still in love with my Dream Duffel. You might recall from the last post that I had a small duffel. I’ve now graduated to a medium and could probably use a large! The Dream Duffel holds up so well and they’ve come out with so many accessories since my original posting specifically on them. I can’t recommend it enough. 

If you are new, my advice would be to buy the basics – the duffel, their hangers (they are worth the money), and their garment bags. Then, after your first competition, order the additional accessories that you wish you had. 

TRAVEL: This is always a biggie. Thankfully, we’ve gone to three nationals that are within driving distance for us. Next year, we will be flying. It’s still the single biggest expense of the year, but we’ve had such good experiences – I don’t regret it. If we did a nationals close to home, I’m not sure it would feel like nationals.

We’ve done condos alone, we’ve shared a house with friends, we’ve cooked in and eaten out … there are so many ways to try to make it cheaper, but in the end – you have to do what works for you. There are certainly pros and cons to every scenario. The bottom line is to plan early, budget, and make sure that you have all the information. (A huge key piece is “What day is my first dance?” If you are trying to pinch pennies, you might not want to show up on Saturday if you don’t dance until Thursday.)

No matter where we go or how we slice it, nationals for us is a $3,000 trip every year. And, probably $5,000 next year with flights.

———

competition dance costsSo, here we are three years later, still paying over $10k per year for a little girl to dance. Is it worth it? There aren’t enough “yes-es”. 

Piper has grown so much – 1,000% since we joined Studio B. She is independent, confident, and has a work ethic that most adults don’t have. She has never once complained about going to class or missing out. 

More than anything, we’ve seen a talent blossom in her. And as long as she wants to nurture that talent, then it’s my job to make sure that she can.

Will she dance forever, who knows? I hope so. Right now, she plans on it. But, because this investment goes beyond the dance studio, I’ve gotten my money’s worth if she quit tomorrow.

For our family, this amount doesn’t come easy. There’s a lot of sacrifice, and thankfully, my mom helps out each month. Don and I both work extra jobs … and Don works A LOT of long hours. But, when I see how happy Piper is when she’s dancing and how her face lights up the second her foot steps on the stage – I’d do it a thousand times over. And, a thousand times again.

Replacing Bad for Good

My daughter is getting her first lesson in the art of sacrifice. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Even at the age of 8.

We have changed to a new dance studio this year. I’m so in love with all the little things that are done to bond the girls together and to teach the dancers life lessons. Because, as adults, we know that regardless of where your career takes you – those are the lessons you will remember!

Last Saturday, the dance teacher spoke with the girls about making good choices – healthy choices. The girls were asked to think of 3 things that they eat on a regular basis and choose something healthier to replace it with. (I’m getting this 3rd hand from a child, so I’m sure there were a lot of details that I didn’t get.)

We eat fairly healthy. I was a little worried and will admit that we had a bit of trouble finding three things for Piper to give up, but she came up with her sacrifices after a little thought. The girls are doing this through January 1.

Although Piper is only 2 days into her “giving up” phase, I’m excited that she is very conscience of thinking through what she is putting into her body and not just eating what I pack.

We have both had a huge lesson this year in learning to fuel her body correctly for long class segments (and if I was guessing, I would say that that is the REAL lesson from their teacher). Although there are adequate breaks to recharge and to hydrate and get a snack, dancing at an extreme level 5-6 days a week requires the right food in your body.

Here’s what Piper is replacing:

Piper's Replacements

1. Pop-Tarts for Cereal; 2. Chocolate in her lunch each day (a snack size, 1 oz piece) for extra fruit or vegetable; and 3. Capri Sun in her lunch (most days) for milk or water

Some of the older girls gave up soda, fast food, etc. It’s a good lesson for them and really teaches the girls to think about what they are eating.

Now … it probably wouldn’t hurt me to take a lesson. I’ll embarrassingly admit that I have way to much soda in my life. I’m taking a deep breath as I type that I’m committing to give it up as well. Actually, I’ll give it up as soon as we run out at home. I have less than 5 cans left. Let’s just be real and admit up front that I’m gonna sneak a Coke if it’s in the house. If I can drink it all first and get rid of it, the  I’ll stick with it.

I’ll report back on the progress that Piper and I make. It’s such to be a saga … on my end, at least.