Monday, April 15, 2013

Time to Step Up

As far as dance school, we dads have it pretty easy.

Sure, we'll cart our wee ones to and from lessons and practice, will watch rehearsals, recitals, and competitions, but for the most part, that's pretty much it.

That's not enough.

Dance moms make sure that the kids have the right outfits, the right tights. They'll ensure that our girls' hair is just right. And that's just for everyday classes. For competition, they make sure that the dancers are properly equipped with the right body suits, tights, and shoes. They'll make sure they have the correct jewelry and the proper-coloured makeup. They will help make the costumes, they will spend countless hours gluing sparkles on dresses, they will create fascinators, they will accessorize and make sure everything goes together for when the curtain goes up and the music starts.

Yup, we dads have it easy.

But not all dads. There are a few who help build the props. These dads will bang wood together, slap on paint, and bolt ends onto ends. Usually, under the direction, supervision, and aid of the dance moms (and choreographers/designers). There are a few dads who will help pack the props into the trailers, those special dads who haul the trailers to the venue, and unpack the props backstage.

A few extra dads will help assemble those props and get them on stage in time for the dancers. But not enough.

As a dad with dancers, I like to help when needed. I don't do a ton of work, I don't lead the charge. I'm not one of those superdads, not by a long shot. But when called upon before a competition, I answer. And when I'm at the competition, I go up to those superdads and ask, "How can I help? What do you need?"

I'm not a big guy. I'm not tall. I'm not particularly strong. I have a back that sometimes fails me. I have arthritic feet—one that has been reconstructed with parts of my hip bone, and on which I can only stand for a short time before they throb.

But I'm there for my girls. I'm there for the school. I'm there with the other prop dads.

I'm not one to judge or to point fingers. I really don't want to get preachy. But there are some dads who are there to cheer on their kids, who I see in the audience. I never see them backstage and never see them offer to help.

Some of our props are feather-light. Some can be put on dollies. Given the amount of time our kids devote to their numbers, given the amount of time our wives put into practically everything (lots of moms help us move props when not enough men step up), given that we have one of the best dance schools in our city (if not the province) with some outstanding teachers, don't we dads owe it to be there whenever we're needed, no matter how big or small the task?

Our next competition is in Buffalo in less than two weeks. Let's step up, dads.

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