A: Over the years, our group of competition dancers and their parents has grown very close. When we travel out of town for an event, we make sure to have a “party room” available, where everyone can meet after the competition ends for the night. (The hotels also like this idea, because it keeps everyone out of the hallways at night.) Parents have food delivered for the kids, and my husband and the other dance dads will break out the poker chips and the cooler. We often will either come a day early or stay a day late, so that the families can go golfing or shopping or hang out around the pool. The focus is on making the atmosphere as relaxed, positive and fun as possible for everyone involved. Right before we go onstage to compete, we get in a big circle, hold hands and sing “We Are Family.”
We also organize two fundraisers as a group: a dance-a-thon and a charity barbecue. For the dance-a-thon, the dancers find sponsors to participate in all-day dancing, and our advanced dancers teach the classes. We keep it fun and hand out prizes. It’s a great way for my 16- to 18-year-olds to get some teaching experience. (And I can see where my future teachers will come from.) The money we raise goes toward future travel expenses. For the barbecue, our competition team and their parents work the event, and the proceeds are donated to the local animal shelter.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.
Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman