One of the perks of being a mother is that you go to places you probably never would have experienced if you didn’t have a child.
For example, my daughter’s love of competition dance has exposed me to some amazing performing venues all over the country and locally I’ve got my own little “Phantom of the Opera” vibe going on at the Music Hall.
A lot of my daughter’s competitions take place on this grande dame of Kansas City stages. That means on any given weekend there are hundreds of dancers — on stage, back stage, in the wings, in the dressing rooms, running through the halls to get to the stage, taking shortcuts from the dressing rooms to the stage or using an outside ramp that takes you from the stage to the audience. Due to this hive of activity that involves quick changes, food runs, and usually at least one search for a lost ballet shoe, I’ve feel like the Music Hall is almost my second home.
It scared me last week when I realized that over the years I had been to the Music Hall so often that I knew how to fix the radiator in the “chorus dressing room.” This room is a half floor up from the back stage dressing room and, due to no elevator access, is only for dancers whose mothers don’t mind heaving a 50 pound “Dream Duffel” (aka dance coffins, due to the fact they’re big enough to hold a body) up 36 steps. (Yep, I counted.)
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After processing the fact that being the Music Hall handyman could be a legitimate side hustle for me, I began to think about how well I know this venue and then another career idea emerged: Dance Sherpa. I could hire myself out to help other mothers navigate the Music Hall during competitions.
The Music Hall as a competition dance venue is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t have some serious inside knowledge by the end of the first day of a three-day dance competition, you could easily blow out at least one of your middle-aged knees. Unlike other sports, dancers can change their “uniform,” shoes, and hairstyle at least six times in 60 minutes and they also must deal with feathers, beaded trim, fringe and rhinestones, which are real stressors in the dance world.
Basically, dance costumes are divas. Each one requires tender loving care and one robust yank can cause drama to double pirouette into your quick change. You could pop rhinestones off, or worse — bust a trim. This sets off a cavalcade of panic involving a triage of safety pins, industrial strength glue and prayer. The ensuing freak out can also cause a dancer to cry, which is a no-can-do because soggy false eyelashes are a vision hazard.
All of this means each dancer needs help in the form a costume mistress and dresser, which is spelled M-O-M. Yes, mothers spend the entire dance competition literally sprinting from the audience to the dressing rooms and at the Music Hall in one day you can log upwards of 10 miles, 24,000 steps and 72 floors climbed. That is unless, you know its secrets. The back passage ways, the cut-throughs, the hidden dressing rooms and the private exits.
Armed with this knowledge you could become a bionic dance mom – better, faster, stronger,able to duel wield a jeweled ballet tiara and a pair of tap shoes while fixing fringe that went free range. Just think if I sold this knowledge through Sherpa services? What mom wouldn’t want that kind of edge?
Full disclosure, I’ll be at a dance competition at the Music Hall starting this Friday and I’m available for Sherpa duty. Bonus: I’ll give you this pro tip free of charge. Don’t take the lobby elevator to the backstage area. It’s an amateur move.