Darcy’s Dance Journey : Dance Mom Chat

Oh Hai,

Don’t mind me, just having a mummy moment that I want to share. I was going to put this on my instagram but I’d quite like the freedom to waffle on more than an insta-caption allows so this is the perfect space! Do any of you remember my old blog? I used to post every day about all sorts! Feels nice to come back here and have a low pressure chitchat. If you’ve clicked on looking for booker prize level writing, click off! Ha! You’re about to be sorely disappointed! This is just a mama who’s blogged since 2009, flexing her fingers (ooer) and sharing a slice of life. I don’t have a content plan or know quite where this will go but I do know I’ll enjoy tip tapping the keys and seeing where we go.

Darcy is my eldest daughter and is ten now. It’s true what they say about time. ‘The days are long but the years are short’. How did I have a baby a decade ago? Wow. I digress. When she started school, they offered the option for her to do ballet and I just said ‘yes’ thinking it’d be fun for her. I did ballet at school and really enjoyed it, so figured she’d quite like it too.

It was always a summer highlight going to the ‘A Dancers World‘ shop, buying the new kit each year, seeing her twirl out of the changing rooms feeling all swish. I also loved it when the school did lessons you could go and watch too. Darcy seemed to have this confidence about her as she danced which I didn’t see elsewhere. If you know her in real life, you’ll know that my little Doodles is quite a sensitive soul. She can over think or over worry and so to see her just being so free and enjoying the moment is lovely. Since she was happy doing it, I carried on booking the in-school lessons.

(Trying on her ballet kit for the first time when are she was 4!)

After a couple of years, her school ballet teacher rang me. She said (and I realise this is so braggy but if you can’t have a moment on your own blog then when can you eh? Eeep), ‘Darcy has something you can’t teach‘, and encouraged me to put her in a club or extra dance school. I don’t know if she says that to all the parents but it meant a lot to me. I looked into it but there was nothing I could make work with our split custody timetable and when I spoke to Darcy about it (I’d have found a way to make it work if needed), she just wasn’t that bothered. She said she wanted to carry on with the school lessons but didn’t mind either way about any extras. I dropped the subject and she merrily carried on at school.

Then, as I’m sure every single person reading will recall what happened early 2020, the pandemic hit. School was closed and when it re-opened, they had paused any external teachers coming in, which included ballet. Dance was off the cards. At the time, we were just grateful that a limited version of school had been reopened and we focussed on that.

By Autumn Darcy was really missing dance. A couple of her class friends were attending an external dance school and raved about it so, we gave them a call and asked if we could check it out. We did, loved it, signed both Darcy AND Pearl up. Darcy’s Dad was really onboard too and has been fantastic supporting her, driving her to lessons on his days and giving her loads of encouragement. Hurrah for #DanceDads too!

Then though, BoJo put us in another lockdown. Dance paused. They opened back up for a few weeks in Christmas but it all ended in tiers (ho ho) and it was paused. We had one day almost open in January and then guess what? Paused again. What a time!

By April, both the girls were so, so happy to be back dancing! Pearl does a weekly pre-schooler class where she dances tap and ballet (she’s also done baby ballet when she was younger, shall I do a whole post on Pearlie soon?). Darcy does a bit more because of her age and mostly, her enthusiasm. I haven’t seen this kiddo so excited for anything as much as she is dancing. If she could dance rather than walk, she would!

A wonderful bonus about all this is the friends we have made (I’ll talk more about my #DanceMum life another time if you’re interested?) and the fun we’ve had together. One of the other Mummies told us about a repertoire workshop the Royal Academy of Dance were holding in May so we excitedly booked to do that and had an amazing time. I actually vlogged the whole adventure, which you can watch HERE.

After we did that, Darcy auditioned for a summer programme at another one of the London ballet schools and was successful! We have that booked in for later this summer and I’ll no doubt share it all too! (Once she’s finished, I’ll also share which school if you are interested for your little one, always just a bit safety conscious <3 ).

Both the girls are performing in the dance school end of year show (which is being covid adapted so no audience but they’ll film it for us and we’re still pumped!) and they are VERY giddy. I’m not sure if it’s the dancing or the fact they get to wear makeup and glitzy costumes, ha! I’m a bit nervous about doing double french plaits but we move, we move. On top of that, Darcy has also been invited to join the competition team so soon we’ll be entering the world of dance festivals too! Yowzas!

So, that’s the big shiny happy side of it all! Of course though, nothing in life is perfect and they have been some challenging bits too, that we’re using as good ‘learning moments’. AKA, turning a negative into a blessing.

Just last week Darcy took her Grade 1 ballet exam and, well, it went a bit wonky. She’s done her pre-primary and primary at the school club and it was never a big deal to her. I don’t even know what her grade was other than a pass (maybe it was just a pass, this is how chill we are about it). She was delayed in taking the next exam (again, covid) so by the time she was able to do it, she was pretty gee’d up. The problem was, this time it mattered to her. Remember, Darcy is a sensitive soul. She REALLY cares about things and REALLY wants to do her absolute best.

She was ready for the exam, dances rehearsed, her teacher had worked so hard on extra lessons, Mummy had done the best she could with a ‘pancake bun’ (learning new things every day here haha), and she went in smiling. Twenty minutes later though, she comes out in floods of tears. The sort of crying where you’re hiccuping through it. It was heart breaking. Unfortunately, she forgot a step and it just broke her. I think it knocked her confidence from there on out and she felt like she hadn’t danced as well as she normally can. I was gutted for her.

After a lot of cuddles and reassurance from her amazing teacher, she calmed. We talked about how as much as we love this, it is JUST a hobby, just a thing we do for fun. We talked about what we can learn from it (mental preparation, resilience, determination) and how we can move on (by keeping enjoying dancing, accepting that you can’t ‘win’ everything etc) and Darcy seems a LOT better now. I think having other things to focus on, like the competition team, her summer programme and the show, is plenty to keep her happy.

We haven’t had the exam results yet but even if it’s not a pass, it’s ok. For Darcy dance is about feeling free, learning new moves, strutting about with her pals in the dance school cafe (very cute to watch) and doing something JOYFUL. For me as a ‘Dance Mum’ (hehe), it’s about her enjoying something, building confidence, making friends, learning skills like humility, the value of team work and dedication. Pass or fail, we still get all those other things and those are the real wins.

Ultimately, this is such a sweet stage of life and I’m loving each minute (even the ones spent watching the hair tutorials haha).

I’d love to talk more about our dance life, it’s such a big part of our weeks and I think it’s lovely to share. Is there anything you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments or contact me on any of my social media platforms, @LouisePentland.

Thank you for reading!

Louise xxx

27 thoughts on “Darcy’s Dance Journey : Dance Mom Chat”

  1. My mom signed me up for dance lessons when I was 4 because I was so shy. I danced from age 4 to 18 when I graduated high school. It was never about being the best dancer in the room, it was always about doing my best. All of my dance friends and I have cried unhappy tears in the studio at some point because we messed some steps up but we all cried lots and lots of happy tears watching each other perform throughout the years. Even the best dancers forget a step sometimes ❤️

  2. Darcy, please don’t worry about missing a step in your exam. Your beautiful natural talent will shine through and the examiners really don’t mind if you miss a step. They were children doing exams once too, they know what it’s like. I work for a dance school and I have NEVER EVER heard of a child who failed for missing a step. Especially in the younger grades, the examiners want to encourage you and your love of dance. Keep shining bright super star, smile and point those toes, you are awesome xxxx

  3. Oh Darcy darling,
    Please don’t worry! I failed my grade 1 & 2 first time round and still went on to go to ballet school for secondary. Even the pros forget the steps sometimes. Just keep smiling and keep dancing. Share your passion and light with the world. You got this kid.

  4. The advice I would give as a ‘dance mum’ is for her to just enjoy it and to believe in herself. There will be students who get more attention sometimes unfairly and some teachers that overlook her! This happened to my daughter but then found other teachers who saw something special in her. She’s just finished 3 years at the London Studio Centre in London and hopes to carry on dancing and singing for years to come💕

  5. Hello Louise,

    Reading through your blogpost is so much fun. I’m a mom to a 2 year old boy and your post has got me so much excited for my son. I could picture myself taking my son to his classes(dance,singing, playing whatever he shows interest in) and teaching him resilience, perseverance, humility. You got this momma mentally prepared. Thanks xoxo

  6. Darcy it’s to lovely hearing how much you love to dance! I love to sing, I had lessons in school. I remember being entered for my grade 4 singing exam, I was so nervous before that I forgot all of my musical theory and didn’t sing my best. So I failed that time but a few months later I went back, redid the exam and scored a distinction!! Even perfect marks on some of my pieces. I have the attitude with exams that what’s the worse that can happen? You fail it and have to do it again and that isn’t the end of the world at all. I teach at secondary school now and I’m always telling my students that we don’t always get it right the first time but that doesn’t mean you haven’t achieved something. You clearly are a lovely dancer and I’m sure will be wonderful in your shows xxx

  7. I distinctly remember that I – for some unknown reason – jeté’d the wrong way in my grade 1 ballet exam, bashing into the girl next to me and nearly ending her exam too.

    It happens – and I did still pass (just). Xx

  8. Such a lovely attitude to have and a learning curve for her. Been following you guys for a long time and it’s so lovely so see lil Darcy living her dreams and being supported by such an amazing family. So nice as well to see the approach you have towards it, being very laid back and focusing on fun and positives! Loving the journey. Hope someday I can be as good a mum as you! x

  9. Absolutely love this post! It’s so lovely to see her enjoying a hobby that has turned into a passion, and I’m glad you’re enjoying it too!
    I trained in classical ballet from aged 3 all the way until 19 and I can honestly say the life lessons you learn from dance are just amazing. Both me and my mum ( a fellow dance mom lol) made friends for life and the team that surrounded me through every show and exam are what makes the whole journey worthwhile!
    I hope she isn’t too disheartened with her exam. When I was younger there was a lot of pressure to do very well (I think that was just dance culture back then), so it’s refreshing to see that the view has changed and how the enjoyment is taught to be the biggest value!

    I hope she sticks with it and perseveres, good luck to her!

  10. Aw Louise I loved this so much!! I have danced ballet since I was 2 and now I’m 24 and still take weekly classes at my school! I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Like you said it’s a hobby and let Pearl and Darcy continue to do it if it’s enjoyable, as soon as the fun and passion goes there’s no point continuing on. I am so proud of Darcy and it’s a lesson learnt, everyone makes mistakes and as long as you both learn from them then it’s worth while making them! Enjoy being a dance mum (my mum is 57 and still counts herself as a dance mum). Lots of hugs and kisses from one ballerina to another xxxx

  11. Angel Brazier-Lewis

    Darcy is a beautiful ballerina! When I was a LOT smaller, I took my grade 1 exam. I was so nervous! So I went and gave it my all.. got a couple of steps wrong.. oops! But I passed! Ill let you into a little secret… didn’t get anything higher because my knickers were showing outside of my leotard and the examiners were not impressed! I did shed a few tears at the time, SO embarrassing! But I did it again, tucked my knickers in and got my distinction because I was determined to get those marks! This has made me giggle ever since and I have so many more funny memories of learning to dance. You will make so many friends and learn so much more than how to dance on the way! You go girly you’ve got this! And if you don’t succeed or if something isn’t quite the way you expected or wanted, you try and try again. Nothing is impossible if you keep reaching for those stars ✨

  12. Well done Darcy, it’s so important to find something you love. Both my children do dance class. B is 12 and does 5 a week. This week she is actually doing 9 as she prepares for a ballet exam and a modern exam. M is 9 and does 3 a week. He says he doesn’t love ballet but he keeps doing plies when he’s talking to me. He hasn’t done an exam yet but loved the show he did almost 2 years ago.

  13. Ive danced since I was 18 months old… Im now 23 and I opened my own dance school after my graduation from uni 2 years ago! Im all that time and a-lot of the best training in the world the most important thing a dancer can do is dance from their heart! Id much rather see someone dance with their soul than only ‘technically’ correct.
    I wish both your girls all the luck in the world!

  14. I loved this post! Very sweet and well spoken. I’m rooting for Darcy from the states! Sending all my love x

  15. Go Darcy! Beautiful natural ballerina there. Those arms are perfect! I used to dance at RAD when i was little (a very long time ago!). I ended up taking lessons for 17 years and recently, in my thirties, have taken up latin and also the odd tap or jazz lesson, because I realised I miss it so much even now! I have so many amazing life long friends through dance and have lived it all over again vicariously through my niece who competes in the Dance World Cup. Keep working hard and most importantly ENJOY it Darcy. You’re a star! Xxx

  16. Aw! It’s so lovely to have such a detailed update on dance life!! Darcy you’re doing amazing!! I didn’t do my grade one until I was 15 so you’re miles ahead of me and you look beautiful in your dance outfits! Have fun at the summer school!!! I love the updates Louise! Please keep them coming 🙂

  17. Go Darcy!!! Dance was the best activity i could have put my daughter in when she was 2 1/2. It has taught her so much besides dance such as…discipline, time management presentation skills humility and many more things. Her dance friends are her best friends. They danced together for 15 years and even though they go to different universities the all still dance and are all still best friends. My daughter is the one who had me start following you back in the day. You are like and old friend. Love your content.

  18. From a former dancer to a younger dancer…
    I missed tons (and I mean tons) of steps in my grade exams – it’s so easy for the nerves to set in. One missed step will be completely made up for by your enthusiasm, beautiful performance and the other 99.9999 amazing steps you performed.
    Watching someone enjoy themselves dancing is so much more fun and special than watching someone dance perfectly, promise.
    So much good luck with the summer school – you’re going to love it!

  19. Elré Clarence

    This is wonderful what you are teaching Darcy and little one, you are winning at life! I have seen you grow up with mommy at your side and it warms my heart. You are a beautiful soul! Always keep smiling and do what you love. When you fall 9 times, get up 10! Much hugs xx

  20. Been a dance mum is like a full time job!! Good job I only have a part time… Actual job 😂…. That pays for been a dance mum! I love it. I love my friends the dance school family. I love shows, festivals, costumes! (especially costumes)!!. I have 2 girls who have danced since tots. My eldest is 14 and is a junior associate at a dance college where she hopes to go and board in 2 years😳. But its her dream and her career path and her utter passion so we encourage her dreams! The youngest loves it too, loves shows and festivals but she’s young so not quite thought any further than that yet!

  21. you can tell from the photos she’s a beautiful dancer 🥺 something that always helped me (a perfectionist dancer who is forgetful and clumsy lol), is that you will never dance exactly the same every time. of course you forget a step or mess things up but that’s the beauty of dance! it’s different every time:) wrong and strong, as long as you keep your chin up and keep going, no one will ever know! way to go darcy!! and louise 🙂

  22. Sheena Stemler

    Thank you for sharing this Louise! As a kid who grew up doing RAD exams, I so remember how the reality of being in those exam rooms was sometimes a bit to overwhelming. I think it never becomes a comfortable environment for most but at least one that becomes more familiar the more you do. Darcy has such beautiful carriage of her arms and upper body but, more importantly, she looks like she really loves it. Excited to continue watching her (and your) dance journey!

  23. I love your energy and positive outlook on everything. It’s so heartwarming. I spent my late teens/early 20s heavily focused on impressing people & wanting people to see me in the best light. The thought of people not liking me really saddened me. However I’m now 27, and I couldn’t give a flying monkeys, and that’s the best way. As long as I’m happy, that’s good enough for me.

    You’re an amazing mummy Louise & Darcy and Pearl are very lucky to have you! 💖

  24. Heather Martin

    There’s such a profound difference in the recent pictures compared with the beginning pictures. Her posture and her gracefulness is quite evident. I remember my time with ballet. Sometimes I wish I had pursued it further. I did tap after that, and colourguard in high school. From what I see on the vlogs and IG pictures, I can tell that Darcy is truly a natural, just like that teacher said. I can also completely understand the sensitive nature and the tears she has as it resonates deeply within me as well. When things get too frustrating, I ball up and cry. Lately, as part of aging I guess, when my inner critic is super loud, I ask myself “what is my brain trying to tell me?” “What am I supposed to be focusing on?” “Is there anything I can do to help me with this, and if so, what can I do?” and I usually try to figure out what my brain is trying to draw my attention to and what I can do about it. Also, remember that a journey isn’t always a linear path forward; sometimes it will twist and turn and maybe zigzag a bit, even if forward progress is being made. Sometimes it’s a longer journey rather than a quick adventure. Best wishes to Doodles on her journey.

  25. I can’t believe how big Darcy has gotten, what a lovely dancer she must be. Well done Darcy! And as a child of divorce myself, I must say it fills my heart with happiness to see just how many adults Darcy has in her corner every day it seems 😍✨

  26. Loved reading this! Would love to hear more about your Dance Mum life and Darcy and Pearl’s dancing!

  27. Hi Louise, I really enjoyed reading this post! Trying to see the positives in a negative situation is such an important lesson learned, that Darcy will benefit from in years to come! Seeing her grow up into the amazing person she has become over the last 9 years that I’ve been following you on social media has been amazing. You should be so proud of her and also of yourself for encouraging her, supporting her during times that have been tough for her and also giving everything (including watching ballet hair tutorials) to make her happy! I wish you and your family (and your lovely team) all the best for the future, stay safe! ❤️

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