I could not have been prouder watching my little ballerina perform in her end-of-year dance recital earlier this month. Seriously, there’s nothing cuter than a tiny girl on a big stage.
She had been waiting for this day to arrive since the moment she got off stage last year, having completed her first ever performance.
Back then she was a bit terrified. She kept having dreams about "the big show" and would wake up saying she didn't want to perform. She didn’t want to dance on stage. She was anxious and had no idea what to expect. Considering I was the shyest kid ever, I wasn’t about to force my daughter to dance in a show if she didn’t want to. But something told me she’d come around.
Sure enough, with the help of her amazing dance teachers, she got really excited about the recital and danced her heart out to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I was gushing through the whole performance.
This year, the recital was a totally different experience. She was dreaming about the stage for months leading up to the June performance. She’d found her calling—telling me she wanted to be an actor/dancer when she grew up (among other things, of course, including a vet, zoo keeper, doctor, haircut lady, etc.)
Her class performed beautifully this year and my little star shone—of course! ;) It’s so awesome to see your kid overcome her fears and get up on stage with complete confidence and dance in front of an auditorium full of strangers. Seriously, that takes guts! It’s something we’ll be able to talk about and refer to every time she feels nervous or afraid. It’s something she did all on her own—twice—without us there to help her or hold her hand.
photo: Reaction Studio
But it wasn’t just the recital that was so amazing. That was just the culmination of nine months of hard work—on the part of the Groove School of Dance teachers—and nine months of fun for my kiddo!
In our family, we all look forward to Saturday morning dance class. It's 45 minutes of high-energy, physical fitness, with great music and a chance for my energetic 4-year-old to shake her sillies out. For us, it's 45 minutes to sit with friends, drink lattes, and gear-up for the weekend ahead. And, as soon as my little one is old enough to dance, it will be 45 minutes of kid-free coffee time. Yahoo!
I found out about Groove School of Dance through a very close friend whose cousin happens to be the founder and creative genius behind this mid-town Toronto dance company. When Angela Golle saw a video of my girl dancing on Facebook (a few years ago) she wrote to me immediately and said, "This kid needs Groove!" Thankfully I listened. Two awesome years later, my kid is plié-ing and retire-ing all over the house! She’s learned so many ballet and jazz moves and positions, developed impressive form (especially for a 4-year-old), has improved greatly on her balance, and above all, she’s developed a strong sense of self-confidence that is having a huge impact on many areas of her life.
In Groove we’ve found a school that puts fun above all else—which is extremely important to me. There’s nothing competitive about these classes or the recitals. The kids are made to feel good no matter what level they’re at. It’s all about ensuring the kids are happy and smiling.
Angela used to be a special needs teacher at a public school in Toronto. She was running a dance program at lunch in the music classroom, when parents approached her and asked her to consider opening a studio in Toronto (a dream she thought she’d let go when she got married and closed her studio in Ottawa to move here). A mom of two, Angela is a Super Woman for sure! Fifteen years ago she started a small studio—in her spare time—in a church basement. She had 20 students and she taught all the classes. Today Groove has 800 students and 30 staff. The studio is impressively inclusive and is open to children of all abilities—including those with special needs.
Just five years ago, the dance school moved into its home at Avenue Road and Eglinton—our Saturday morning haunt. (Groove classes run throughout the week and on both weekend days, we just happen to like Saturdays!)
The saddest time of year is when dance ends. I mean…it’s not that sad because it means summer is upon us...but my kiddo misses her Saturday morning classes. She misses the smiling faces of her teachers and the feeling that she can do anything, that she’s free to experiment, try new moves, and see what her little body can do.
Before the season ended, we’d already signed her up for next year—she’s going to try a class with jazz, ballet, and tap—and she’s SUPER excited.
But what will we do all summer until dance class starts again? Luckily, Groove runs summer camp programs for four weeks of the summer (July 7-11, July 14-18, July 21-25, and August 25-29). We’ve never done a Groove camp, but I’m really hoping to get my kiddo a spot in August. I think it would be a great way to end the summer, giving her one final boost of creative energy and physical activity before she starts JK.
Groove is our Saturday home away from home. It’s a community of amazing passionate teachers and awesome families. My daughter has made fantastic friends and gained so much confidence in her abilities to dance. She's learned how to face her fears and to dance like no one is watching (even though she loves it when people watch!). It’s the little things that matter so much in a kid’s life, and I’m so thankful we’ve been able to give our daughter the gift of Groove!
NOTE: This post is not sponsored content. When I find something I love, I just can’t help but share it with others. I’ve wanted to send some LOVE to Groove for a while—and I’m glad I had the chance to write this post. Angela has graciously offered me a discount on Groove camp in exchange for the post—but I love Groove so much I’d have written this regardless.
Looking for something fun to do in Toronto this summer? Check out Open Streets TO—your chance to explore the city in a fun and ACTIVE way.