Face of hope

Face of hope
Courtesy: TIffany Kay Photography

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Love of Dance

So Meagan being the youngest means she gets to go everywhere her big sisters go.  Often times, this means she is tagging along to something having to do with Irish Dance.  Being that Irish Dance is the girls' main activity and sport, there isn't a month that goes by where they don't have some sort of show, competition, or classes.  There are a lot of benefits to Meagan being in this environment. Most important are the relationships she has formed with several of the dancers and their parents.  In essence, during class times (which are several times a week), Meagan becomes sort of "part of the dance family" and bounces from parent to parent snuggling, exploring and playing.  The parents don't mind at all and jump right in loving on Meagan and often times being surrogate therapists helping encourage her to crawl around or holding her up to stand or "walk" around the studio waiting room with them. Even the teachers jump in taking time to give Megs a high five, a fist bump, or talk to her about her feet and encourage her to "dance" in her own way. We are very lucky that there are such good families at the dance school - it truly is like a second family.

Meagan's vocabulary has grown from being around the dancing.  She learns lots of rhythm words, and lots of descriptive words when the girls talk about kicking higher, or going faster.  She has even learned new words like "pretty" or "sparkle" and lots of her colors from all the gorgeous costumes and hair pieces the girls wear to compete.  It is so sweet to watch her with the dancers being so gentle and examining every part of the dress taking in all the beautiful colors and textures of each costume.

Feeling the different textures of Kaitlin's costume

A more "practical" skill we have noticed lately has suddenly taken off and in large part, I am realizing it has to do with the dance classes.  In most classes, the girls are counted off by saying "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, off you go!"  Meagan started trying to repeat this a few months ago by saying in her own way "fiiiii (5), siiiiii (6), sevnnnn (7), off you go!"  It was the first time we have really heard her start to "count" or even say numbers or repeat them in order.  As the months have gone by and Meagan has sat through countless classes, competitions and shows, Meagan picked up more and more numbers and would say them more clearly each time.

One day while driving in the car, we hear from the back seat "Daddy, count!"  Meagan then proceeded to start at 1 and would say every other number with Brian filling in the gaps.  She almost made it to 16 before pausing and going back to 1.  We were astounded.  We didn't know that she had soaked this up so I asked her to do it again.  And she did! Below is the video from that day:

Ok then... I guess we love to count!

As of late, with the gait trainer being a 'no go' dancing has actually become a motivation for Meagan.  If you ask her if she wants to get up, she usually says no.  If you ask her if she wants to work on walking she often says "no! no walk!"  But lately, if you ask her if she wants to dance, she will say her usual "5, 6, 7, off you go!" and then scoot forward so I can pick her up and help her stand up to "dance."  This is how we are now getting her to weight bear a little on her feet and encourage her to stand....by asking her to dance.  It's quite hilarious.. and quite the work out! 

Irish dancing with Pop Pop

I remember as we started to realize Meagan's physical limitations and struggles... and at the same time watching the older girls take off in Irish dance... and I often wondered to myself "would Meagan ever be able to do that?"  I often wondered how we would incorporate Meagan in her sisters' activities when she did things in such different ways... how would we help Meagan find things that she loved too?  Seeing Meagan now, and the motivation she has drawn from Irish dance, have answered those questions.  She may not dance exactly like her sisters, but when at shows or competitions, seeing her clapping to the rhythm, or smiling at the music and costumes, or seeing the absolute joy pouring out of her facial expressions as her sisters practice show me that she, too, loves dance.  Practically, exposure to dance has allowed her to progress in skills like counting and colors due to being around the Irish dance environment and the wonderful school families and teachers who have taken Meagan right under their wing without batting an eyelash.  And most importantly, Meagan has found new motivation to do the things that are hard...like working on standing or walking... the things she really doesn't want to do but has to do.  Resistance has turned in to willingness.... if we frame it as if we are asking her to dance.

 It warms my heart to see Meagan love something her sisters also love doing.  The girls' love of Irish dance has not grown to be a barrier as I feared, or leave Meagan as a bystander, but has rather been a mechanism to allow bonding between sisters, education and acceptance among the dance family, and unintentionally has become an art Meagan loves enough to lead her to a progression of skills that would have otherwise not existed. Famed American dancer choreographer Martha Graham said, "Dance is the song of the body. Either of joy or pain. It is the hidden language of the soul." Meagan may mostly dance in her heart, but the skills and motivation she is gaining from it in her own way are astounding. The inclusion she feels is uplifting. And the joy it brings to her soul...... well, that is priceless.  

Completely wiped after a few hours of watching and clapping at a competition

1 comment:

  1. You are such a well of joy! Your family is something I want my family to aspire to!