The Seven Types of Dancers You See at Every Recital

June 18, 2017


To most people this weekend is Father’s Day weekend—and to our family it was that, but it was also dance recital weekend. Today was the four-year-old Ballerina’s first recital. It might be the first of many, or it might be the only one of her dance career. You just never know with our little ballerina. Some days she loves dance, some days she doesn’t. Some days she likes carrots, some days she doesn't. Any given day can bring a change in what she does or doesn’t like. This is the life of parents with a toddler.


As an only child who had no sisters I am new to the world of dance. All I really know is that my daughter is amazing. That pretty much sums up my knowledge of dance. Having said that, in the last two days I have attended a dress rehearsal and a recital, and now feel fully qualified to palaver* about what I have observed.


When you are dealing with kids this age, especially when you put them in a group, it really is like a game of parenting Russian roulette. Our little Ballerina really was not interested in participating in dress rehearsal. Various bribes and threats were employed and we barely managed to get her to participate. We don’t make bribes a habit, but this was a special occasion, so a trip to the toy story to spend birthday

money, a strawberry frappuccino, and various other enticements were in play. Then came the post dance picture with her classmates, and suddenly all bets were off. I hope she didn’t give anyone a complex, but the real issue was the photography element. For such a cute little girl the Ballerina will frequently boycott all pictures of herself. She did this at the zoo last week, and I’m pretty sure the Zoologist took it personally for a while when she wouldn’t have her picture taken with him. So, if any of her classmates’ parents read this, just know it isn’t you, it’s us. She did the same thing today after the recital with our family.


Anyway, the point of today’s post is to discuss the different types of dancers of this age group (3-4 years old) I categorized. I counted no less than 7 different types of dancers. This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure if she continues to dance I will add to this number.

The statue dancer. This dancer might have stage fright, she might be protesting the whole thing, she may have to go potty, or she just might not want to move, but you will see more movement from Michelangelo's David than from this rigid, but probably still cute, little girl.


The I'm the only one on stage dancer. This dancer is blissfully unaware that there are other dancers on the stage. She believes that the audience is full of people who came just to see her.


The in her own world dancer. This dancer is similar to the previous one, but with the exception that she is happily unaware of the other dancers AND the audience. When the Zoologist played t-ball there was always a kid digging in the grass for bugs while the game went on around him—occasionally it was the Zoologist. This is the dance equivalent of that.

The taking care of business dancer. This dancer showed up to dance. She isn’t there to please the crowd, she is there to do her thing. This category is where our Ballerina fits. She has fun by performing, and performing is most fun for her when she knows what to do and how to do it.


The half a step behind to make sure I'm doing the right thing dancer. I sympathize with this dancer. She is pretty unsure of exactly what comes up next so she generally is just a smidge behind, always playing catch up because she is unsure of herself. When I first moved to the Metroplex the church I joined was Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, a predominantly African-American church. This was me every Sunday during worship. I am rhythmically challenged, and can appreciate this dancer’s dilemma.


The this is the dance we should be doing dancer. Sometimes one of these little girls just decides that, despite the fact that the dance is one style, she knows what style it should really be. I don’t teach dance so I find this one hilarious.


The what does it take to get through this dancer. This girl is similar to the statue, but she is willing to make the minimum number of movements to feign interest in the process. She is moving, but as little as is humanly possible.


Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go find my tiara.




*My lovely wife, who is an avid reader and has a 120-hour Masters of Theology Degree had no idea what the term “palaver” meant. It means to, “talk unnecessarily at length.” What are they teaching kids in schools these days?

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