Dancing is a beautiful art form but it requires a lot more sacrifice than many of us realize.
Like anything that takes a lot of effort and discipline, the performance and display of it looks effortless—but what actually goes into it is painstaking and difficult. When it comes to ballet, the dancers may seem to be floating casually across the stage. In reality, though, their feet are definitely paying a price! Still, there are other costs to pursuing a creative passion as well.
This is never more clear than for mothers who are trying to be there for their families.
Although Bree Hafen is a professional dancer, she initially thought that she might give up her career for her family.
Hafen is 29 years old and has two beautiful children, her 12-year-old Luke and her nine-year-old, Stella. Being a good mom means having free time available to take care of your children, play with them and show them how much you love them. Because dancing at such a high level requires such a time commitment, Hafen wasn’t sure she could reconcile those two worlds.
Still, she eventually realized that she had to try to do both.
All this became clear when she competed on season nine of So You Think You Can Dance.
As Hafen said in her pre-audition interview, her children are so important to her. “When you become a mother, you want to just give your whole life to your kids,” she said. “And when you ever feel like doing something for yourself, you have to deal with a little bit of the guilt involved. So getting back into dance was a struggle of, ‘Am I worth the time away from my family?’ I’m not over that guilt yet, but I’m getting there.’”
With all that in mind, her audition was made even more special than most.
The judges asked her the usual questions, eventually landing on her family.
When asked about her children, she pointed out to the judges that they were actually in the audience! She also mentioned that her little daughter was a “phenomenal dancer” in her own right. After they introduced themselves, the judges brought them all the way up to the front so that they could get a better view of their mother performing!
With everything ready, the music was cued and Hafen set into her dance.
The song that played was “Sort Of” by Ingrid Michaelson—and Hafen’s choreography to it is breathtaking.
As the song began, Hafen showed off her acrobatic skills and perfectly fluid movements. Beyond the standard ballet moves, she does splits in the air, cartwheels and so much more. After seeing enough of the performance, judge Nigel Lythgoe turned to her son Lucas. “Can you give this to mommy?” he asked. With that, little Lucas walked up towards the stage and mom stopped dancing.
The judges had voted yes and she was going to be on the show!
After a few more moments, her daughter also walked up with another vote and they all embraced onstage.
When the applause settled down, Nigel had to ask why she’d never been onstage until just recently. She replied that her life as a wife and mother had given her the confidence she needed to get onstage… meanwhile, her daughter was already starting to dance beside her! Mom explained that she was saying “my turn, my turn.” With that, Nigel decided that she was right.
Hafen set her daughter down, the music was cued and Stella got her chance to shine as well!
Though her children are older now, little Stella was only three years old when she danced in front of America!
Although she was very young, it’s clear that she already had plenty of dancing talent of her own She pointed her toes, stuck her legs out, twirled and imitated some of the daring moves that her mom attempted as well. Needless to say, the whole audience got on their feet to applaud them!
Although these shows are amazing for discovering all kinds of hidden talent, this performance was particularly special.
While the choice between being a mother and following one’s dreams is generally portrayed as two distinct options, Hafen’s story proves it doesn’t have to be.
Although being a good parent definitely requires sacrifice and commitment, it doesn’t mean that our family wants us to stop being ourselves entirely. Instead of keeping her from her dreams, Hafen’s family loved and encouraged her to follow her own passions—knowing that she’d have plenty of extra time and love for them as well! Even if you’re usually pretty guarded with your emotions, this story and her performance are sure to bring a tear to your eye.
Congratulations to Bree and her whole family!
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