Dancing Through Life

Napoleon Hill once said, "Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle." One thing I can say about my dancing daughter is that it does not come naturally to her. She works extremely hard and continuously sets and surpasses goals for herself. As her Mom, sometimes I fear it is too much time, too much pressure, and too much demand on her little body. However, I know she is reaping many benefits from training with her dance family.

Reagan is nine years old. She has been dancing recreationally for six years and has become serious about her training in the last two years. Reagan has an amazing dance family and support system at her home studio, Red Door Dance Academy Texarkana. She practices at the studio four nights per week during the school year, doing her homework between dance classes. Reagan eats dinner on the way home before rushing to shower and bed. While Reagan gets ready for school each morning, she shows us what she learned the night before. While it's not the average routine for a nine-year-old, Reagan loves this cycle.

Summers look different for Reagan. Based on recommendations from the Red Door Dance Academy owner, Jessica Bolton, Reagan has auditioned for and dedicated three weeks to summer dance intensives at studios outside of Texarkana for the past two summers. Last year, Reagan attended Debbie Allen Dance Academy's Dance Intensive via Zoom. This year, she attended an in-person intensive at The Dallas Conservatory. We are so grateful for a studio owner that allows and encourages outside instruction to help our girls further their technique and growth as dancers.

The summer dance intensive audition process has taught Reagan tangible, life-long lessons. At a young age, she is learning adaptability, time management, how to read a room, collaboration, and more. During the three weeks in Dallas this summer, Reagan completed over 100 hours of dance. She was trained with top instructors nationwide and took classes in styles that are not as common at local studios. As soon as the dance intensive was over, Reagan returned to Red Door Dance Academy classes. Her summer schedule will consist of 20-25 hours of instruction per week.

Reagan has been an "anxious kid" most of her life. When she is in the dance studio, she works hard and demands a lot from herself. However, a lot of her natural anxiousness disappears. The stress relief is one of the main reasons my husband and I encourage and support the decision to dedicate so much time (and money) to her dreams. Reagan has big plans to dance pre-professionally during her high school years, and she hopes the training eventually lands her a professional dance role. She plans to dance through college and knows she wants to use her dance background to help others in her career.

Her future goal of using her dance background to help others was made more apparent during a recent hip injury. Reagan's physical therapist was a former ballet company member from a well-known company. Reagan loved that the physical therapist understood dancers, their bodies, and injuries well and used that to his advantage to create a niche clientele.

Reagan devotes an extensive amount of time in the studio to technique, and the remaining time goes toward competition rehearsal. Each competition season, Reagan has five or more competition pieces including individual and group numbers. I expect that number to climb each year. She constantly wants to add in new genres, additional solos, duets, or trios. Davida High, Artistic Director of The Company at Red Door Dance Academy, has been instrumental in Reagan's growth. Although Davida is tough on Reagan and the dancers, "D" loves her dancers so fiercely, and the dancers know she shares their goal of reaching their full potential.

Competition season begins with the new year and continues into April or May. Competition weekends are long but so very fun. The dancers spend one-on-one time together between numbers, working and growing together as a team. Although it is a considerable sacrifice of time for our family, we enjoy and appreciate the weekends away because of the extra time together. Dance competitions are not just about 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. They offer a variety of scholarship opportunities and judge's awards. Reagan once received a judge's award for "Miss Confident." I don't know that I would have described Reagan as confident before receiving the award, but it definitely boosted her confidence for future competitions.

Reagan's teammates believe in encouraging each other. They race to the stage when another company member is about to dance so that they can scream, clap, and cheer as loud as they can for their friend. Even though the girls often compete against one another, the team believes in community over competition. The girls focus on their accomplishments and growth versus comparing themselves to others on the floor. They respect their fellow dancers, dancers from other studios, elders, and themselves.

I appreciate the lessons Reagan and the dancers learn through dance: they have to balance a demanding schedule and multiple commitments, they understand the importance of finishing what you start, they are learning the power of a team and their vital role on that team, and they are learning how to take care of their bodies. Most importantly, the girls are learning an art they can escape to at any time to help them find their balance and center in this crazy world. I will always be grateful for Reagan's love for dance, her dance family, and the lessons learned along the way.


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