She “danced like nobody’s watching.” Except, I was watching. I heard her in the basement blasting Jo Jo Siwa so I snuck down to see what she was doing. I found her dancing her heart out, her eyes fixed on her reflection in the blackened TV screen. I snuck out my phone and took a video. When she spun around and noticed me filming her, she was uncharacteristically embarrassed. And this made me happy.
I should probably explain. I’m not a monster. It’s just that this self-awareness is brand new. It’s yet another inch-stone in miles of milestones that we didn’t know if she’d ever reach. She felt self-conscious. This child has never felt awkward or shy or embarrassed about anything.
Of course, there was nothing to be embarrassed about. Her dancing is joyful and sweet and quite incredible. She wasn’t born to dance. Or sing. She didn’t do either for the longest time. We tried for years to engage her with childhood favourites like Old MacDonald and Twinkle Twinkle. I’d sing as enthusiastically as possible and do the actions hoping she’d participate or at the very least, pay attention. She’d just stare at me with absolute disinterest.
The same applied to dance. We enrolled her in dance classes when she was little. She loved the costumes and the social aspect. But the dancing part—not so much. She spent the first few years running from her dance mentor or hiding under the stage. When she finally showed some interest, her ability to follow the steps or the beat was… a challenge.
But then one day she found her rhythm.
She started moving in time with the music and even singing along. She quoted Taylor Swift lyrics and then began singing them. Not on key, and she made up many of the lyrics, but it was the sweetest sound regardless.
Dance class became the highlight of her week. She was able to follow simple choreography and she injected her unique personality into every song and dance.
At fourteen she’s an interesting mix of innocent child and curious teen. She sings children’s songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the daily, but with an edge. Think dramatic snarl with a touch of head banging.
Since the pandemic began most of her IN REAL LIFE social and creative outlets have been put on hold. Thankfully, we’re part of a social group for kids with disabilities. This group, rEcess Oakville, has provided Avery and others in our community with a way to continue to connect with their peers. rEcess partnered with Get Low Dance Co to teach virtual dance classes.
Every Saturday Avery joins her friends for an hour of virtual dance. Her teacher makes students feel united even while they’re dancing in separate living rooms and kitchens and basements across the city.
This session the theme is, “Trolls World Tour.” Each week explores a different genre of dance based on the movie. Avery’s favourite movie. So…happy dancer over here.
Avery is no longer a child, but she’s a young person with a right to privacy, so I always ask for her approval and permission before I post anything. Imagine my surprise when she said I couldn’t share the video of her dancing so joyfully. Another beautiful example of a burgeoning self-awareness. And another inch-stone achieved. I’m both blown away and flummoxed because I wanted to boastfully share her mad dance skills.
She liked the video and declared herself a “really very great dancer.” She said I couldn’t post it though because her underwear showed when she bent over. Modesty, what? This is also new. And age appropriate. And awesome. So I cut out the part where her pink briefs peek out from below her leggings. She said, “Oh that’s better. You can show it now mummy. People will really like my dancing.”
Oh gurl, werk that confidence. Werk it and hang on to it forever.
Here’s a snippet of her dancing like nobody’s watching. Even though we are. And we’re cheering from the front row.
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