My hesitation on starting competitive dance too early. A dance teacher's perspective.

Updated: Sep 6, 2018

My beautiful daughter was born in 2013, about 13 years into my career as a dance studio owner. Up until this point in my life, the dance studio was my main priority. It was my life. It was what I did and who I was.

At the time, I envisioned my daughter just like every other dance teacher's child. She too would become a studio kid. She would compete a solo at the age of two, spend weekends on a blanket on the studio floor, coloring, napping, watching mommy choreograph and teach. She would of course be a fabulous dancer and would carry as much love for dance as I do. She would carry on the family tradition.

This of course was the dream, but that dream quickly started to change as I began to actually live it.

Is this what I want for her or is this what I think just needs to happen?

Is this what I want for me? Is this what I want for my family?

All these questions began to tug at my heart strings.

Prior to motherhood and becoming a wife, I only had to think about my own lifestyle, but now I had to take into consideration our life together, as a family. It was an opportunity to dream a new dream and dance a new dance. So what did I want it all to look feel like?

When I looked into our future it was already packed full with competition weekends, rehearsals and everything else that a competitive lifestyle involves. Everything in my life was going to be dictated by the demands of running a studio, and if I wanted to create time with my family, they too would just have to fit into the course of the studio. There was no time for life outside of the studio.

And my heart said No.

I wanted more. My family deserved more. My husband deserved more.

Somewhere in for the next Dance Adventure

I wanted a balanced lifestyle. I wanted weekend adventures with my family, vacations that were not dance related, family dinners during the week and an opportunity to allow a little spontaneity in our life as a family. I wanted to experience family life and create memories that included more than just competition and dance.

I wanted a family, and one that included my husband.

Fast forward to the present moment. I recently had a friend tell me that she knew the course of my life would have to shift the moment that I had my daughter. She obviously could see the writing on the wall before I did. She said she knew that the studio work schedule was not sustainable with a new child and marriage. She knew that eventually it would all deteriorate. (and soon enough, it did.)

There is only so long you can put the studio life and your dance family first and not have your own life and family begin to suffer.

(On a side note- did you know that Dancers and Choreographers are listed in the top 20 professions likely to experience divorce? The divorce rate is 46.8%. No wonder something deep down inside of me wanted to create a more sustainable way of living.)

So, as usual, when things are not aligned with your heartfelt intentions, the Universe shifts things to create the desired path.

The "shift" sparked a new reality for me, and one that did not include the title of "dance studio owner". At the time, it was tough to not really have a dance studio to call home anymore, and not to mention, losing the community of people that were my world. I equated the entire experience to what it would be like if someone left the church. You become nothing in the eyes of those who once admired you and befriended you for so many years. Now and you are alone. Excommunicated.

I also lost my identity. Who was I if I wasn't teaching dance? Who was I without the title of "Miss Julie"?

But as the saying goes...."Ask and ye shall receive".

My heart wanted freedom, adventure, travel....and time.

And that is what we got.

The transition from studio life was devastating, but it also came with the gift of TIME...and an opportunity for other "identities" of who I was to emerge. I was more than a dance teacher, I was a mother, wife, traveler, motivator.....and everything else that is going to show up.

And eventually, dance began to whisper to my Soul again. As much as I try to move away from it, it's me. Dance is a part of what makes me...ME.

Opportunities opened up and I began teaching internationally. My family gets to come on these adventures too. We literally have been dancing the world and my daughter has become that "studio kid", but not in the way that I imagined.

I get to experience being a dance mom too! I didn't think I would love doing her hair and make-up for a show....but I do! Just typing about this makes me giggle with glee.

I love it. I love watching her dance, I love watching her on stage and I love watching her explore her own movement, creating her own style. I love doing all of this with the freedom of time.

She too gets to explore the depths of who she is and not fall into the title "dancer", or "competition kid". She gets to be an artist, world traveler, explorer...and everything else that shows up for her.

For now, not having the pressures of dance underneath the structure and ideology of what the competitive dance world holds works for us and ultimately what I also wanted. I knew that if I put my daughter into competitive dance too early, she may just miss out on the real freedom that dance has to offer....and I always wanted her to know dance from the most authentic level that there is. No judgement..just dance.

The journey of it all has reminded me that THERE IS TIME! There is time for competitive dance and serious training.

There is TIME for experiences and adventure and there should always be balance...a balance between your passions, your family and your life adventures.

*Cultivate a love for dance first.

*Allow creativity and freedom of expression to arise within the dancer first.

*Nurture the essence of the child first.

*Let the movement for love and life always come first.....and the the discipline, focus and training of the artist will come - and it will be sustainable.

I always wanted my daughter to love dance, and I think she is....but not because I love it, but because she has the time and space to explore and experience it for herself.

Here is the reminder to listen to your heart, tend to your needs and the needs of your family and always allow dance to be the thread that creates joy, opportunity and freedom. Dance is a love language all of its own and should always be a blessing....Not a struggle or a stress.

For all this and more.... I am grateful.

Thanks for reading,


My daughter and her first dance certificate


​​Julie Nguyen

Tel: 303.204.9763


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