About 8 months ago I became a new father. Being a new parent has been one of the greatest things to happen to me and through the experience I have learned so much. I have definitely learned to be more creative! As I write this blog, I am in the comfort of my parked car and listening to “Little Baby Bum”, all to help baby Olivia take her nap. Being old to teaching and new to parenting, I have found that some of the experiences of being a new parent can also be applied to being a new dancer.
For those that are old to parenting but new to dancing these concepts will be easy to relate to, so read on!
10 ways learning to dance can be like being a new parent:
1. Thought progress would happen faster
I used to think that you had to learn to walk before you learned to crawl. I was under the impression that my child would crawl out of the womb. Completely wrong! Olivia had to learn she had arms and legs first. Learning to dance is no different. You have to discover how to use your body and develop the coordination to dance well, and that takes some time.
2. Creating a bond
The more time I spend with my daughter, the more fun she becomes and the more she likes to be around me, thus the better our bond is. Dancing is no different. The more often you come in for lessons, the more fun it becomes and the more you want to be around dancing and the more you feel connected to yourself and your dance partner(s)
3. Need the wisdom of experts
Parents, friends and books all give their expertise on how to parent. The important thing for anything new is finding the information that is accurate and current. Dancing is no different! When you are first learning to dance your teacher should and will give you current and accurate information to make your learning experience fun and fast.
4. Must be fearless against the thought of making mistakes
I constantly worry about adverse effects I could have on my daughter. Should I let her cry it out, am I holding her too much, am I not holding her enough, am I going to give her daddy issues?? Nobody is perfect, mistakes will happen and when they do we learn from them. The same can apply to dancing, mistakes only make us better and reinforce the right way to do things.
5. Patience is a must
Babies take time to become little people, then teenagers and then adults and that time is a gift. Just like learning to dance, so much of the journey is remembering when: when you laughed, when you struggled and when you had a break-through! The things that fulfill us the most are the activities that take our time and effort to achieve.
6. Prepare for a lot of crying
Typically, it’s the baby and you at 3 in the morning, before baby gets on a sleep schedule. In dance, it will be you. While you won't be crying puddles on the dance floor, prepare for the possibility of just a few "tears". In the beginning it can be challenging, but it will get easier! The more you work through those challenges (just like getting your baby to actually sleep at night), the more accomplished and confident you will feel.
7. Listen to your partner
Raising a child takes a team effort for sure! So, I listen to any little parenting hack my wife has discovered and I apply it to my parenting to see if it just might work. In dance I also listen to my partner to become a better lead and partner.
8. Leading and following
In dance I lead, but sometimes the follow throws me a curve ball and I follow until I can lead again. Being a dad is the same! Everyone sees me as the lead, but every now and then I follow the change in direction that Olivia throws my way. The key is always let them think you lead it! (wink, wink)
9. Attention, attention, attention
Being new to fatherhood, I’m constantly trying to multitask and Olivia is gradually showing me that it is not possible to effectively do that. When I’m with Olivia it requires my full attention and she will not allow anything to come between her and I and our time together. Once she has my undivided attention, our time becomes so much more fun. This is probably one of the best benefits of learning to dance, it requires you to quiet and focus your mind on the dance, putting work and any problems to the side.
10. It’s the adventure of a life-time
As a dance teacher I have had the pleasure of showing people that learning to dance is an adventure of a life-time. From competing in California to dancing in the streets of Vienna, from performing in a stage show, to giving someone the courage to overcome their shyness at a Friday night party, learning to dance is fulfilling. I look forward to getting the same fulfillment in my adventure as a dad! Let the journey continue!