Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Each June, our daughter’s hard work pays off – with more hard work. For 10 months each year for the last couple years, Anika has been spending several hours a week participating in dance classes. She comes home from dance and dances in her room, practicing what she has learned. She has danced, almost literally, for her entire life. (Remember Bella Dancerella – yep, we have them all!) She took dance lessons at her preschool, has dressed as a ballerina more often than she’s been in street clothes sometimes, and has dreamed about being a dancer for as long as we can remember.

Supporting our daughter’s desire to dance is important because she thinks it is important, and because she is determined to be good at it. In a few years, she might decide dance is no longer where her passion lies, and we will support whatever her new interests are. Part of the joy – and challenge – of parenting is letting our children have the freedom to explore who they want to be without forcing our expectations and visions on them.

Dance lessons can be expensive. We’ve been lucky enough the last couple of years to be able to afford for her to take ballet lessons at the local dance studio in town and even luckier that the people who work there are dedicated and talented. Anika worked hard enough to be invited to participate in the production class the last two years, which offered her an additional night of free instruction with a fabulous dance instructor and the ability to be part of the feature performance in the studio’s annual dance revue.

No, we don’t sign her up for every activity that comes along – our budget and our sanity would not allow it. In fact, one of the messages we have always shared with our children is that balance is critical. Doing too much is as bad as not doing anything. Dancing for Anika, like drumming for Parker, is a passion. By fueling her passion and supporting her desire to develop her skill, we have watched her blossom.