A beautiful Mind (set)

I recently had the opportunity to judge a youth competition and was amazed at the wonderful grooming of these children. I saw children ages 4-5 years old through their late teens all looking like beauty queens or Mr. GQ. In an age where dressing up is we

Date added to ADN: Tuesday, May 01 2007
Originally Published: Tuesday, May 01 2007
By Lisa Bentley

I recently had the opportunity to judge a youth competition and was amazed at the wonderful grooming of these children. I saw children ages 4-5 years old through their late teens all looking like beauty queens or Mr. GQ. In an age where dressing up is wearing jeans without holes in them and actually having them sit ON the hips, I experienced a flutter of hope that maybe one day these kids might help make the world a prettier place just by being in it .

Before I begin to sound shallow and petty, what I hope is that along with all the things they learn about dancing, the grace, the poise, the sportsmanship, I hope they take along a sense of pride in their appearance both on and off the floor. Granted, parents (and coaches) have a great deal to do with how children look between the tender ages of birth to thirteen (if they're lucky!). I don't have children, but if I did, I doubt I would allow them to run around in many of the "fashions" of today. Yes, kids will be kids and parents will continue to roll their eyes heavenward asking, "Where did I go wrong?" But I somehow believe there can be a harmonic chord struck between parent and child in the grooming department. Lest I wax philosophical on the virtues of childrearing for which I have no qualifications (herding cats is probably easier from what I understand) in my utopian opinion, getting a child to understand that taking a bath, combing your hair, brushing your teeth and putting on clean clothing is always a good idea especially when venturing out in public, cannot be that difficult. Maybe because I am a girl (and discovered retail therapy at a VERY early age) but mostly because my parents wouldn't let me out of the house unless the "rules" were observed. This could also be because both my parents didn't work. Dad went to work while Mom policed the house. Yes, things were different when I was growing up but I also believe to some degree we are a product of our environment.

Again, I do not pretend to know the first thing about raising children, but I do recognize that children tend to follow our lead. Children are mimics. Words, phrases, gestures, habits (good and bad)are picked up quickly and repeated sometimes at inopportune moments. "Where did they learn that," is a phrase I have heard often from many parents. Well…??? Yes, the coaches and parents of these children I saw probably said, "You will wear this and have your hair done a certain way and act this way when you are on the dance floor," but I hope somewhere along the line someone spoke of the importance of these things and why they are done in this way, and that - in some form - these things should be practiced in everyday life.

Just like learning to dance, the patterns and techniques must be repeated correctly thousands of times to achieve a certain level of success. We need constant reminding (coaching) to check our progress and make sure we are on the correct path. We need a goal to work towards (competition, showcase or special event) to insure our commitment to our work, and we always need praise for a job well done. It's my opinion (that I do not recall anyone directly asking for, but I will throw it out there anyway!) that with our young dancers we demonstrate good grooming to them early on, remind them to be responsible for their brushes, combs, etc. encourage them to take part in a special event to practice their skills and then applaud their efforts (and make any last minute adjustments if necessary!) Then, with any luck, all the forces of nature on our side and the stars properly aligned in the heavens, they might just accidentally allow this to spill over into their daily lives. Now wouldn't that be a pretty mess!!

Originally published in Dance Notes on May/June 2007 by Christine Zona

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