Friday, April 11, 2008

(Re)Considering Ballet

As you know, we have the two older girls in a dance class each. Sarah's is ballet, tap, tumbling for an hour and Ella's is ballet for 45 minutes. I have had conflicting feelings about sending the girls to a dance class from the very beginning, often saying things about "poise", "grace" and "discipline" to ease any conscience pricks that may have arisen.

From my reading post, you also know that I have had the intention to read Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart. So, I have been waking up with Del and after he leaves I read my bible and a book until the kids wake up. I am reading Mr. Tripp's book and it is quite a doozy; very conscience pricking.

Here's my issue with ballet.

We are to have a God-oriented, God-glorifying, God-pleasing life.

1) We can get them to ballet on time every week without fail but we can't get them to church? We don't even do a simple Sunday service at home in our house. We don't even do a daily bible study, but we sure can get them to ballet on time.

2) Are we sending them to ballet because of the social pressure of giving your child what makes them happy? The "grace" thing doesn't always resonate with me considering what I see them learning in class. They learn the recital and not the discipline of ballet. The only reason we sent them in the first place is because Sarah asked to go and we like to give them things that make them happy.

3) Does ballet counteract our modesty message? I don't want them in the recital because I don't want them performing in public in tights and a leotard, but does simply sending them to ballet give them mixed messages about beauty and modesty?

4) What is the end purpose of ballet? Does it glorify God? If we are teaching them that everything we do glorifies God, is ballet what they should be doing at this time?

Some things that Tedd brought up that have made me consider these things are:

We homeschool; we "refuse to have them influenced by secular humanism in school, but will expose them to unbiblical ideas of beauty in dance class."

"Many families who always have time for team practice are unable to organize family life around regular times of family Bible reading and prayer. What values are taught?"

From the shorter catechism:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

"You must equip your children to function in a culture that has abandoned the knowledge of God. If you teach them to use their abilities, aptitudes, talents and intelligence to make their lives better, without reference to God, you turn them away from God. If your objectives are anything other than "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," you teach your children to function in the culture on its terms."

All these things are making me question ballet, at this time. I feel we as a family need to put more of an emphasis on glorifying God on a daily basis, before we venture out into other activities.

I also think that because I homeschool, I desired to put them into ballet so that I could prove to other people that we are normal; we do normal things, just like everyone else. This is hardly a God-glorifying reason to put them in such an expensive and time consuming activity.


Lawanda said...

My middle dd has always wanted to do ballet. But I think the leotards are unreservedly immodest. She says: "I would just practice in my sweats and t's. I wouldn't have to do the recital."

I sorta wish I would have when she was small (She is 11 now) because she is a bit clumsy-ish. But I think dance classes can be very clique-y, and sort of all about showing off...

So I cannot do it, personally. Same with cheerleading & gymnastics. I just never could bring myself to put them in it.

Although I do think it is wonderful for them, physically! :)

Joanna said...

And you know, the clique-y thing (as you so aptly put it) is really bad with the parents, too. The things these ladies talk about, oh my word, did they graduate and move on from high school or what?

I totally agree about cheerleading and we've been discussing gymnastics because of the leotard and the harsh physical toll it takes on their little bodies.

I really want Ella to just get into running like her dad and call it. You know what she wants now? Golf lessons. Luckily my husband found 5 kids golf clubs for $4 each at the Goodwill and he is a fabulous teacher, so it's cheaper (for now) than ballet.

Johanna said...

Golf, wow! Jerry would be so pleased if that was what our boys wanted to learn! Sometimes, I think that having another boy would be easier than having a girl. The modesty issue hardly comes into play with them.

I do agree with your points though. We have made a very conscious decision to have church, the Bible, and talk of God and godly things be at the center of our days. It is so easy to get off track with that, and we're homeschooling, in Awana, in ministry positions at our church, and hosting a small group in our home! It is amazing to me just how loudly the world calls sometimes.

I think it would be great if you guys could find a church that is full of other homeschooling, modesty minded people. That has been so key for us. The people we surround ourselves with send social messages like, "Go to Awana." or "Put God at the center of every daily lesson." It makes it easier to drown out the messages the world sends that my kids should be in school and in 13 scheduled activities.

I think that ballet could glorify God. Afterall, he gave women beauty and grace. He made our bodies amazingly so that we can move to music and make art with our form. It would be wonderful if you could find a Christian co-op that offered ballet. If you could find a class that had a like-minded teacher, where modest attire was the norm and there was a focus on strengthening our God-given bodies, that would surely be God-honoring. I guess you would just have to look and see if such a thing exists in your area.

Joanna said...

I know it sounds like we're total heathens, not going to church. We've gone to most non-denominational, protestant churches around here and we've not...been comfortable. I think we're just a wee bit too picky. Sheesh. Anyway, we are trying to go to church. We hope to get this house because then we'll have a whole new set of churches to visit.

Joanna said...

I think I expect too much out of churches. I want them to be family-integrated (not a lot of those out there), messianic Jewish, not freaky, full of homeschoolers and maybe even some quiverfullers so that me and my large family with have some kindred spirits. Think that's expecting too much?

Granny said...

Good for you, Joanna, for carefully thinking through these things. Let me throw in my $.02 as the mother of six daughters, three of whom now have daughters of their own:

I agree with every one of your points, though we too succumbed at a couple of points and allowed some ballet lessons. But here is the big thing for me. Think about your daughter getting truly good at ballet and progressing through the ranks of dancing to get to the very top of the ballet world. How much do you know about that world? It's full of elements I don't think you'd want her involved in. But if she got there and you were pained about it, she'd be able to turn around and say, "Well Mom, what did you put me in the first class for? You started me on this road!" We have chosen to concentrate on skills and talents where there are plenty of opportunities even at the very top (piano, for instance) to glorify God not only with the skill but with the lifestyle that accompanies it. Make sense?

Joanna said...

First, I am honored, Granny, that you came here and read my questions and gave me some guidance. I appreciate that a lot.

Your point is one that I actually haven't even considered (duh!). Although I don't know much about the ballet world, I know enough to know that I wouldn't want my daughters in it as teens or adults. That's interesting that I was so short-sighted about the whole thing; thinking about the here and now and not what they would do with it in the future.

Lawanda said...

I feel that way about modest clothing, too.

I do not want my kids to look back at age 16 and say, "Mommy, you let me wear shorts when I was 10, why can't I wear them now?"

By shorts I mean SHORTS, not capris or bermudas ;)