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Mon, Oct 04, 2010
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Ditched by Junior at dance
by Clara Chow

GRIPPED by Glee fever, my four-year-old son, Julian, has been prancing around the house, exhibiting his dance moves.

So, it was no surprise that I signed us both up for a Twinkle Toes hip-hop dance workshop to find out if we have four left feet. Part of the Esplanade's annual da:ns festival, the popular dance sessions for kids and their parents are almost always fully booked.

I had a vision of the two of us bonding, while training to become Gene Kelly-meets-Justin Timberlake; of my little man bowing gallantly to me while I curtseyed after our number was over.

"You're going to be my dance partner, Ju," I told my son excitedly. He nodded back enthusiastically, and shook his bon bon for my benefit.

Last Saturday morning, we arrived hand-in-hand at the arts centre's rooftop theatre studio for our 11am class.

Parenting, however, is full of weird disappointments.

For some reason, Julian took one look at the class of about 20 children and their mums and dads, and decided he would have none of it. My stubborn son benched himself next to the ballet barre, and folded his arms grumpily.

"I'll just sit here and watch," he declared. No amount of cajoling could move him. He was a one-kid Mount Rushmore.

When I asked him what was wrong, he merely sulked and said: "Tsk. Nothing's wrong." I felt like tearing my hair out and screaming at his unfathomable mood swings. This was not Billy Elliot. It was Silly Elliot.

Meanwhile, the other kids were having a grand time, stretching and shimmying to instructions from the two friendly dance leaders.

Giving up on trying to convince Julian to join me, I took to the dance floor and began following the simple dance routine they were learning.

Take three steps to your right, and clap. Take three steps to your left, and clap. Three steps to your right, clap; three steps to your left. And... pose! The final pose was left up to our imagination. I decided to do a Madonna-esque hands over the head Vogue. Around me, the children looked like mini-Beyonces and mini-Ushers, with their hands on their hips and fingers pointing in the air.

Occasionally, I sneaked looks at Julian, still pouting on the sidelines. He pretended not to see me, even though I waved at him several times. I felt like the poor child whose parent was texting on his BlackBerry instead of watching her kindergarten concert performance. I felt like I was going to burst into tears.

I was not the only parent who had to contend with an uncooperative child. One mum had to sit by the side, with her petrified daughter in her arms, even though they were both clearly dressed for action in black tights and cute dancing skirts.

Another mum gave her daughter the evil eye, as the latter insisted on clip-clopping around the studio in her mother's clogs, instead of following the lesson.

But, for the families who turned up together - mum, dad, brother and sister - and executed the hip-hop moves perfectly, it was evident they had a great time. Good for them. Ah, well, for me.

After the one-hour class was over, I sent an SMS to my friend, telling her about how my four-year-old dance partner had abandoned me at the prom.

"The good news: I now know a killer hip-hop routine. Show you soon," I concluded. "Haha, you go, Britney," she replied.

There's always next year, I reckon, to try persuading my son to dance with me again. Hit me, baby, one more time.

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