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dance
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  • I am a Dance Mom Failure

    For the past year, The Munch has been attending dance classes at the local dance studio. I’m usually teaching dance or dancing myself during that time – so her grandmother has been forced to be the stand-in “dance mom.” Since I have not really been around, I was totally clueless to the culture of this studio, and just how much they were seriously not fucking around.

    It all started with the impending dress rehearsal. I asked Munch’s grandmother if she could take her, and she started to get very nervous.

    Munch’s Grandmother: Oh I was hoping you could take her to her dress rehearsal.
    Toni: I would but I have a super important meeting and then I’m teaching. Is there anyway you could?
    Munch’s Grandmother: I can, but they want her to be in full costume with make up and a bun. I only had sons, so I don’t think I can do all that.
    Toni: I’m sure it won’t matter. She’s only four. Just shove her hair up and slap some eye shadow on her face.
    Munch’s Grandmother: Ummm, they are very particular about the buns.
    Toni: Okay, well I will send her to your house with a bun already in her hair.
    Munch’s Grandmother: Okay, they are just really serious about those buns.
    Toni: I’m sure it will be fine.

    That Monday, I got Munch ready in the morning for her afternoon rehearsal.

    Toni: Listen, I have to do your hair now, because Grandma isn’t sure about putting your hair back in a bun for your rehearsal. So just try not to mess it up.
    Munch: Okay. But can you put two braids in the side and then a braid around the bun?
    Toni: Do I seriously have to go all Game of Thrones on your hair right now? Can’t I just do a regular bun?
    Munch: I WANT BRAIDS WITH MY BUN!!!!!!!!!!!

    So I did what any normal parent would do when their child screams in their fucking face. I did exactly as she asked.

    I brought Munch to her Grandmother’s house and she was immediately anxious when she saw Munch’s hair.

    Munch’s Grandmother: Oh her hair looks very pretty, but are you sure those braids are okay?
    Toni: They’ll be fine. It’s a dress rehearsal! Who cares?

    Well it turns out those braids WERE NOT FUCKING FINE AT ALL! Munch’s Grandmother was scolded for having the wrong kind of bun, and the owner of the studio had to do ANOTHER PERFECT BUN! She then sent Munch’s grandmother home with hairpins, a hair net, and specific instructions for me on how to get her bun perfect!

    Okay fine.

    The night of the show, I gave Munch the best goddamn bun you ever did see. But her “Dust Bunny” costume, which was a tutu adorned with pink feathers, was fragile. So I decided I would just get her dressed at the venue, so as not to smash her tutu during the car ride (or have pink feathers all over my car). We drove to the performance venue with the windows rolled up (so as NOT to disturb the bun), and got there just on time.

    As I was dressing Munch, another Mom told me she was going to leave early, as the “Dust Bunnies” were the first to perform, and it was a long show. She was afraid her daughter would be too tired for the next night’s performance if she had two late nights. Her logic made perfect sense to me. One because who wants to deal with a tired kid? And two because who wants to sit through 2 hours of watching other people’s kids dance?

    After Munch had her 3-minute moment on stage, we sneaked out, and I went to find her backstage. I guess leaving 5 minutes after the show has started and taking your kid away is NOT exactly “Dance Mom” etiquette. So as I was leaving her teacher walked past perplexed.

    Dance Teacher: Are you taking Adelia? She’s not going to stay for the bow?
    Toni: No. I’m getting her home early so she isn’t a total A-Hole tomorrow.

    So I guess “Dance Mom’s” also don’t refer to their child as an “A-Hole” in public.

    The next night of the 2nd performance I figured I could have the same routine as I did the 1st night. I did the bun at home, and assumed I could get Munch into her costume backstage again. Yet when I tried to enter, I was stopped.

    Dance Mom Volunteer: Are you a chaperone volunteer?
    Toni: No?
    Dance Mom Volunteer: Well you can’t come in here. Dancers only.
    Toni: Okay, I just wanted to get my kid dressed real quick.
    Dance Mom Volunteer: You were supposed to do that at home. She was supposed to come dressed and ready to perform.
    Toni: Well is there a bathroom I can use?
    Dance Mom Volunteer: No. There isn’t. She was supposed to come dressed and ready.

    My mom and I took Munch around the corner, found the fucking bathroom that this chick pretended didn’t exist, and proceeded to put on her goddamn costume and makeup.

    Toni: Jesus H. Christ she was being aggressively unreasonable.
    Munch: Who was mom?
    Toni: Nobody. Don’t worry about it.
    Munch: That mom that wouldn’t let you in that room?
    Toni: DON’T TELL HER I SAID ANYTHING! YOU WILL RUIN ME!

    I mean that was a lot of stress! Now I am not saying that Munch wasn’t the most AMAZING Dust Bunny… but basically she just skipped across stage a few times with a bunch of other girls who looked just like her, and then rolled on the floor.

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    June 22, 2015 • 4 years old, Adventures, Education, Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting • Views: 1347

  • Nothing My Kid Does Impresses Me

    I have a serious complex I am going to admit. When I was a kid, my parents never took me to extra curricular classes, and I still feel slighted. My mom claims she brought me to ballet once, but I wasn’t into it so she was like “screw it.” Ummm mom, you were supposed to pressure me to excel regardless and become my “momager!” DIDN’T YOU LOVE ME ENOUGH TO DESTROY ME??

    I guess my mom did sign me up for tennis in the summers, but she didn’t bring me to the clinics to watch me. She just pointed to my bike and said, “The court is 2 miles that way.” When I played sports throughout school my parents NEVER came to my games, and I was always that kid with no one in the stands to cheer them on. Are you crying for me yet!!? Although I am obviously still working out some PTSD and deep-rooted resentment issues – I also totally get it.

    That shit is as boring as a dry fuck hole.

    However, in reaction to my upbringing I have enlisted The Munch in a variety of classes. She takes both dance and gymnastics twice a week, and now wants to play hockey as well. Theoretically I am very supportive of this. I want to expose Munch to a variety of artistic and physical outlets to learn skills. But… I also have been doing everything I can to avoid being the one responsible for bringing her to such events. If I can get someone else to do it, you bet your sweet ass that is what is happening.

    The obvious problem is I am selfish about my extra curricular time and want to work on my creative projects as much as possible. You guys, stop judging me. I am almost done with my movie about queefs, and it’s going to be amazing! My other issue is that I am excessively critical and hardly impressed by anything.

    BEFORE YOU THINK I AM AN ASSHOLE – IT IS NOT MY FAULT!! Have you seen the Internet lately?? Kids are amazing out there!! There are babies who breakdance, a 4-year old who is a top fashion designer at J-Crew, and a fetus that kicks ass at basketball. I have seen so much talent out there in the interwebs that my kid’s cartwheel seems just kinda meh.

    DON’T WORRY OKAY! I keep this all to myself and tell Munch her handstands are outstanding even though her alignment is off. She will get there I know… because I will MAKE her practice until she does, but that is beside the point. For what it’s worth, Munch’s gymnastics teacher sees potential in her, but all I see is a kid who hasn’t mastered the front walkover.
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    January 21, 2015 • 4 years old, Education, Health, Mommy Mind, Mommyhood, Parenting, Playing • Views: 1257

  • YOU WILL BE A FUCKING STAR

    I never had any talents as a kid. Wait – let me reframe that. I never had any cultivated talents. I could do some pretty cool stuff, like an impression of a seagull being attacked, but there was not intentional effort to make me excellent at any one thing.

    I dabbled in some lessons. I took tennis in the summer, and piano during the school year. But I was never truly committed to anything besides shoving an entire package of Big League Chew in my mouth. So I obviously had ambition, albeit misdirected.

    I would like to think I had potential to be good at stuff; it just wasn’t a priority within my family dynamic to explore what my hidden gifts might be. Part of me thinks I would have been an amazing astrophysicist but I never went to math camp. Thanks a lot mom and dad! Now I will never understand the space-time continuum.

    It is not that my parents didn’t care about me; they just didn’t give a shit. But in a sweet way. They did however give me the tools to one day have the motivation and confidence to eventually figure out my own skills. Like how amazing I am at making sandwiches. Hint: it is all about the layering.

    It is not like I am going to overschedule my 4-year olds life, because they need time to play and develop their imagination. Plus I am not that interested in driving Munch around places – it is a waste of gas. Plus I am selfish. But she does take dance twice a week and gymnastics twice a week, and then we practice what she learned at home. But in a fun way!! Seriously it is fucking fun!!

    Do I sound crazy because I am not!!

    I am not going to make my kid take classes if she hates them, but I want to expose Munch to disciplines and see what she is most passionate about. I think gaining abilities by working hard is life affirming. Having a connection to your body, as well as an artistic outlet, is a crucial part of being human. The more opportunities you have to be creative, the more you will connect to the artist inside your soul who is waiting to come out like a gay theater student in high school.

    So far, The Munch is into dance and gymnastics, and is pretty damn good if I do say so. I mean, she is not a prodigy or anything, but she doesn’t suck. It is not that I have a complex or anything, but I sure as shit am going to make sure that The Munch is A FUCKING STAR!!!!!!! My kid will excel at everything if it kills me!! Just kidding…. But no, seriously she will.

    Check her out… KILLING IT in gymnastics!

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    October 8, 2014 • 4 years old, Education, Musings, Parenting • Views: 19665

  • Why You Shouldn’t Eavesdrop

    When The Munch plays pretend, she often talk to herself. She comes up with characters to act out scenarios. The murmurs of her banter is endearing. I love when she happily plays by herself, content in her own imagination while creating a world through the dialogue of her dolls. It is one of the most peaceful moments of motherhood that soothes my soul.
    Ummm… yeah.The truth is, I haven’t been listening that carefully to what Munch’s characters are actually saying.
    The other day I brought The Munch with me to my dance studio while I took a ballet class. She had her back to us and was completely lost in her own universe. Our presence was totally inconsequential — The Munch was committed to her own reality.
    Here’s the thing about sound.When you have loud music on, it drowns out all other noise. Yet when said loud music is turned off, all other noise is amplified in the silence. In this case, when the song ended and the teacher was momentarily thinking about the next exercise, the sound of Munch’s voice echoed throughout the room.
    At first we all looked at each other and said with our eyes “awwww how sweet… the little girl is playing pretend.”  Then the actual words coming out of her mouth became clear.
    Munch: You go over here Mamma because I am going to put you in jail. Then I am going to stomp on your face if you don’t give me all the jellybeans I want. Go in jail right now and stay there forever and ever for 100 years and I am never going to let you out!! And then I might KILL YOU!

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  • How Can I Make You Notice Me?

    You ever have one of those moments that is so bizarre you think you are being filmed? Like the only way to give context to what you are experiencing is that someone is behind a camera orchestrating the insanity. You look around at the people witnessing the lunacy, and wonder if they too are perplexed, or if you the one who is mad for noticing the madness.

    I had one of those moments last weekend when I took a modern dance workshop about the art of performance. The teacher was a dancer whose career started in the 1960’s in New York City, and every stereotype you would assign to a dance teacher from 1960’s New York applied. She wasn’t a person as much as a character out of fiction, but at the same time, she was also a genius.

    Her hair traveled down to her knees as did her breasts in a hot pink leotard, but her beauty shone through any signs of aging. She would make sweeping statements like “the light of the stage supports the aura inside” and then face the window and lose herself in the moment for five whole minutes – oblivious to the passing of time. Then she would have us leave the room so we couldn’t see each other to perform for each other – which was as crazy as it was brilliant. This exercise was followed by another where each one of us would strike a pose in the center of the room while everyone else put their faces inches from your body to stare. We were asked to grab a pedestrian prop and oscillate between performing with it, and interacting with it as if no one was watching – but still while everyone was watching. Everything she did made no sense at all, and yet was totally profound.

    The question she asked that I can’t get out of my head is “what makes you look at one person and not another?” What draws you to someone when they are performing? What makes you notice them more than others?

    I think her inquiry was much more philosophical than practical. Although I will never have an exact answer, just asking the question is meaningful. My initial reaction was intention. The performer has to be really clear with their intention regarding what they want the audience to feel. Having good technique is of course important when it comes to any art form; yet it is not the totality of what makes something great. There has to be passion, substance, and belief behind what you are doing to truly stand out.

    I see a lot of talented mechanical dancers who can do things with their body that are unimaginable, yet they don’t project out into the audience. You are watching them dance, but it is as if they don’t care if you are there. Their energy is too internal, and they are not externalizing emotion. Sure there are times when someone could shut me out as the spectator of their work, but there has to be purpose behind it. Like they want me to feel left out for a reason. The person creating the art has to have vision behind what they are doing in order for me to connect to them.

    When I think to back to my own relationship to dance, I started really late, but my trajectory has taught me more about art than any class ever could. When I was 19 years old, I was in a state of rebellion and did not want to go to college. Considering both my parents were professors, very liberal, and gave me a lot of freedom – this was the best “fuck you” I could think of. Yet my not getting a higher education was a non-option unless I wanted to be disowned, so I filled out the common application and told my mom to send me wherever she wanted.

    I got into this school called Sarah Lawrence that was very artsy fartsy. When I arrived the first day I took one look around and was like “holy fuck get me out of here.” I called my mom and asked her why she sent me to The Lilith Fair for college, but she told me to stop being so ridiculous. I had gone to a really preppy high school where I had played sports all my life, and my artistic self had been only been expressed through doodling pictures of hearts with boy’s names inside. I had no idea how to fit in to this new environment. Everyone was supposed to take an art elective, and I had no artistic talent that I knew of.

    I started taking dance because there was no soccer team. I liked to go out dancing at the club and drink vodka, so I figured this was the next best thing. Forget the fact that I was surrounded by girls who had been doing plies their whole life, and felt like a fool. It was really humbling to suck, but I had to commit myself to something, and figured at least dance would help me avoid the Freshman 15.

    What I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm. I would take extra classes in New York city every weekend, I would do summer programs, I would get to class early and leave late just so I could stretch more. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I was going to be the most dedicated.

    The dance teachers at my school probably were amused by my perseverance, but I don’t think they thought I had any real future in dance. I started too late, and that was that. My best dance friend Mika was another girl who also wasn’t a bun-head since birth, but who shared my undying dedication. Her and I spend all our time dancing, and even though we were not taken as seriously as the other girls who had the history we lacked, we still took each other and ourselves seriously.

    Fast forward 15 years and I saw Mika for the fist time in a decade at a hippy conference where I was teaching belly dance. Do you know what she is doing with her life and career? Dancing! She performs all the time, is a dance teacher, owned a studio, travels the world to do field work, got her masters in dance, and is now getting her PHD at UCLA in dance theory. Her love for dance made dance her life!

    From that first class that I took, I have been dancing 5 days a week since. I teach dance, perform, choreograph, and own a dance studio. The irony of this aspect of my life is that dance was something I always considered a hobby. I never expected it to be anything more than a creative outlet, so it was always fun, and life affirming. Yet it has become a really stable part of my current career. But as with my writing, which is what I WANT as my career more than anything in the whole fucking world, I am still struggling.

    I guess I have to admit that there something about the fact that I never had any specific agenda with dance beyond a devotional practice that has made it the most consistent part of my life.

    (My darling Mika…)

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    July 23, 2014 • Musings, Old School Stories, Working Mommy • Views: 1505

  • How To Like Your Family Even When You Don’t

    The love you feel for your family is different than the love you feel for those you don’t share DNA with.  It is almost as if the love is choiceless.  Despite everything, you have to love them in this primal desperate way.  You know them on a cellular level, and even if their personalities are slightly repugnant, there is still a connection.  We are bonded to those we share blood with.

    The parent-child relationship is probably the most complex because there are so many strings attached.  The child needs the parent to keep them alive/safe, and the parent then feels some sense of ownership over their kid.  As the child ages into an adult, sometimes these dynamics are so deeply embedded into the relationship that it is difficult to respect each other.  It can be hard to find the friendship when there has been this distinct role of the superior and the subordinate.  The child who is always seeking approval from their parent, or the parent who is never satisfied with their child is one of many power struggles that can infect the love.

    That is why having things in common with your family can bring you together despite the complexity of past resentments or failed expectations.  No relationship is every perfect, but the more you share, the more time you will want to spend together.  If you have similar interests, then that are always activities you can together to reinforce the attachment.

    Since The Munch is only 2, I can’t exactly say that we like to do the same things.  I mean, playing in the sandbox and ordering people around is great, but when that person who is being ordered around is me – it kind of loses its charm.  We don’t always see eye to eye on what we want to do with our day, and I feel like I do a lot of the compromising.  I mean, reading Pippi Longstockings 19 times is not exactly what I call the best afternoon of my life, but I will do it for The Munch because I know its good for her brain… and I want her to be the smartest kid ever so I look good.

    One thing we do have in common is dance.  We go into my barn where I do my dances, and The Munch does hers.  Usually we do our own things, but  today  The Munch decided she would make up some moves for me to perform.

    Munch:  “Lift your left toe and put it over here on the window, then over the spider… twirl around 3 times – then fall on the floor. But don’t hurt yourself.  But hit your head and cry.  Then get up and jump like a frog like this.  Then go back and forth. Run to the mirror.  Shake your bum 20 times like this, then lift your right leg all the way to the ceiling.  Move your arms up and down, run over here, then fall down again. But this time, hurt yourself.”

    And I would do exactly as she articulated because that was some pretty imaginative choreography.

    “5,6,7,8 and walk 2,3,4…”

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  • Clap for Me and I Will Clap for You

    Over the weekend I had a dance performance at my studio.  It was a hippy pagan fertility love fest celebrating the birth of spring set to the music of Led Zeppelin.  Yeah I know.  Kind of the best idea I ever had.

    Even though we had made the show 18+ because there was nudity, I thought this was something The Munch had so see.  I want to share art with The Munch because I feel like learning to appreciate the idea of someone pouring their hearts out for you to observe is an important practice.  Going to performances and participating in that energetic exchange are meaningful life experiences.  I feel like the earlier she gets exposed to creativity, the more likely she will honor and want to partake in the artistic process.  I am not saying I need The Munch to be an esoteric abstract artist who uses bat wings to paint herself in sparrow blood while chanting Rumi backwards to the sounds of humpback whales humping as an expression against materialism – but I want her to at least be able to appreciate those who do.

    I also thought it would be cool for The Munch to see my performance so it could contextualize why I spend all this time dancing.  I was a little nervous about how she would behave, so I thought I would explain to her what was going on before hand just to make sure we were on the same page.

    Toni: “Okay Munch, so tonight not only are you going to watch all of Mamma’s friends dance, but you are going to watch Mamma dance too.”

    Munch: “I wanna dance with you!”

    Toni: “Okay! You can! But today you have to watch Mamma dance and clap for her okay?”

    Munch: “And then when you are done I am going to dance and you clap for me.”

    Toni: “That sounds really fair.”

    As I was waiting to go on back stage, the announcer of the show was saying our names and our bios before each performance.  Now, when my partner Cyndal had emailed the other dancer and me asking for our information for the show, I had assumed Cyndal knew my bio and didn’t really need one from me.  So as a JOKE I said “oh and my bio is Toni Nagy once went on a plane and farted really loud.”  You know TO MAKE HER LAUGH.  As I was waiting in the wings to go on stage I hear “blah blah blah Erink Lovett Sherman yadda yadda director of Arts Fest… and Toni Nagy, who once went on a plane and farted really loud.”

    Toni: “Cyndal!! I was fucking joking about that!!!”

    Cyndal: “Ohhhhhhh it totally seemed like something you would say!”

    Toni: “Touché….

    When I went on stage I couldn’t stop giggling thinking how the audience must be wondering if I would once again would fart really loud, and if they would be able to hear it over the song.

    After my dance I went to sit with Munch for the last performance.  My friend Elise was doing a piece to “In the Light.” She came out draped in brown robes like a monk and honored the four corners north, south, east and west, with candles.  Then she disrobed and entered into a kiddie pool full of mud.  While Elise danced naked in the soil, the audience was invited to embed these seeds with hopes, dreams, wishes and love for mother earth and themselves, then blow the seeds onto Elise and into the pool.  I thought this was a really beautiful concept and The Munch and I sent up together to blow our seeds in.

    Munch: “Mamma, she is getting all dirty.”

    Toni: “Yeah, you are right.”

    Munch: “Her hair is getting dirty.”

    Toni: “It is.”

    Munch: “Is she going to wash it in the shower later?”

    Toni: “Yes Munch I am sure she is.”

    Munch: “But we don’t get to watch her get clean in the shower.  We only get to watch her get dirty.”

    After the performances we had a dance party and of course The Munch didn’t want to leave because it was her turn to dance and my turn to clap for her.

     

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  • What’s That Smell? Oh, Its You

    I am going to tell you something about me.  I am relatively indifferent when it comes to taking showers and wearing deodorant.  I mean, of course I get in the shower – it’s just not this crazy priority of mine. I do it when it’s convenient.  Like twice a week.  And I have nothing against deodorant.  It’s not like it once beat up my mother or stole money from me.  I just don’t think about it.  Kind of like that time I punched your mom in the face and that $100 I owe you.

    I also move my body around quite a bit – dancing, practicing yoga, running away from The Munch.  So it is safe to say that it is common I have a slight funk.  As a consequence most people who are close to me, are familiar with my stench.  I wouldn’t say it was vomitus, but it has a distinct musk to it.

    So my friend Gita is visiting and was coming to dance class with me.  She asked to borrow a shirt and I gave her one I assumed was clean because it was on my clean laundry pile.  I knew I had worn it over the weekend, but I was Monday… so it had to be clean right?

    We were sitting in the car driving to dance class and Gita looked uncomfortable.  She kept making weird faces, looking around confused, and opening the window.

    Gita: “Oh my god.”

    Toni: “What? What’s the problem?”

    Gita: “Oh my GOD!”

    Toni: “Gita what is it? What’s wrong?”

    Gita: “I kept smelling something.  And wondering what it was.  Because it was so unmistakably the smell of your armpits – yet it seemed impossible that I could smell you all the way from here.”

    Toni: “Hey! I took a shower yesterday! And put on deodorant!”

    Gita: “Well, its not you.  But it is you.  It’s your shirt! I just smelled the armpit of your shirt!! And it reeks of you!”

    I guess it wasn’t a clean shirt after all. Then all during dance class Gita kept saying how the stench of Toni wafted into her face every time she lifted her arms.

    Gita: “I feel the need to announce to the class that that smell is coming from me, but it isn’t me.  It is actually the scent of Toni that has been imprinted on to this shirt.”

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    May 10, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Mommy Body, Musings • Views: 1680