When Your Child Chooses Another Path…..

Okay, you can’t see Dustin’s face, but he’s the one in the red shirt; the photo taken in the midst of a leap during a lively number as part of a Bowen-McCauley Dance Company performance. (www.bmdc.org). It is an entergetic piece that balances with some of the more dramatic offerings that Lucy Bowen-McCauley provides in her contemporary dance company. And it couldn’t possibly be more removed from the career that we thought Dustin was going to have.

Like so many parents, we expected our son to go to college, get a “normal” job, be successful, etc.,. When he decided he wanted to work with restoring animal habitats, especially working with wolves, or maybe the marine environment, we accepted that he wasn’t destined to make large sums of money. “Well, as long as he’s happy,” we said. Of course, what that usually really means is that, “As long as he’s happy and we can proudly show off his success.” What we never saw coming was that somehow he possessed a passion for dance that was ignited during his freshman year of college. Dance as a profession? As a hobby, yeah, but as a profession? And in our inability to understand this, and his trying to not disappoint us, we all made mistakes in communicating that I regret to this day. The essay on my website, “Of Course My Child Will…” gives more detail, but the end result was that Bennett and Debra Savage of the Fairfax Center for Ballet Arts in Fairfax, Virginia (www.thecenterforballetsarts.com)  saw the talent in him and persuaded us that he actually did have potential. They explained that even though he was coming to dance very late, he had such a strong desire and work ethic that they thought he could overcome the considerable obstacle of no previous training. We reluctantly agreed and they put him into an intensive program.

Dustin in now entering his fifth year of professional dance; performing and teaching with Lucy, teaching and performing with Benn and Debbie, and performing as a guest artist for other companies. Bless his wife’s heart for being so supportive both emotionally and with her work that helps make ends meet. The simple truth is that a dancer’s performing life on stage is brief, and had we not finally accepted what Dustin truly wanted, he would have missed his chance. Will he have that “normal” job some day as a post-performance career? Probably, although it will probably also be associated with dance. We understand that now and in those moments when we sit in the audience and watch him lift a female dancer to his shoulder, leap to a crash of music, or tenderly dip his partner in a piece entitled, “Falling Slowly”, we shake our heads that this is our son. And we are glad that we did come to recognize that this was the right path for him.

2 thoughts on “When Your Child Chooses Another Path…..

  1. Wow! I am so impressed that you were able to make the mental leap to accepting your son’s desire and impressive talent. So many parents have a master plan for their children’s future and can steer them unyieldingly in that direction. The world of art thanks you for giving us this gift.

    • Thank you, Tammy, and I was on your delightful blog (http://www.grownupnowwhat.com/) earlier and hadn’t realized that you were a dancer. It’s not that we didn’t appreciate and contribute to the arts, but more that we, like so many parents, wanted financial success first for our son. While my husband and I were both able to put our “passion” careers off as second careers (him as a scuba instructor and me as a writer), that simply doesn’t work in the physical world of dance. Charlie

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