My love of dance began at age 12. I saw my sister doing a dance combination from her high school P.E. class to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and I begged her to teach me. 5,6,7,8- I was hooked! I grabbed a boom box, and locked myself in my parents' garage for hours, creating new combinations, dancing my little heart out, falling repeatedly on the grease-stained concrete floor, only to get right back up for more.


That seed, that passion, grew into a bona fide career. I danced professionally for over 10 years, and it has been the basis for an unconventional, yet very satisfying 20-year career. My dance training has been invaluable in shaping who I am, professionally and personally, teaching me patience, perseverance, passion and discipline. I still dance, not professionally anymore, or in my parents' garage, but just because it truly is the love of my life.

As a mom, I wish nothing more than for my son to feel that way about something. To have a passion so undeniable and so deep that doing it doesn't feel like work. Something he can engage in, something he loves, something larger than himself.

Today, with arts funding being cut from public schools across the country, how can parents nurture a love of dance and the arts in their children? Dance not only exercises the body but the mind as well, honing spatial thinking, imagination, math skills, musicality and an appreciation for the arts. If you're looking for something more structured than a mommy-and-me dance party in your living room, and studio lessons are prohibitively expensive, I would suggest you check this out: Diana Vishneva, a world-class prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theater has collaborated with local Los Angeles dance producer, Allyson Tang, to create a fantastic instructional ballet DVD for kids, called "AllyCat The Ballet Cat." Diana's dancing is a vision to behold and the fun and whimsical instruction imparts very strong fundamentals of this classic art form, including the French phrases and their translations. I also really like that it's not only geared toward girls, as much youth ballet is, including a boy dancer on the DVD as well, who absolutely mesmerized my son. If your child has an interest in dance, it's a wonderful option, with a portion of the proceeds providing scholarship tuition for children who cannot afford ballet class.

But don't forget to keep up the living room dance parties as well, because you never know where a love of dance might lead!

AllyCat The Ballet Cat

I have 3 dvds to give away and the first 3 people to tweet #BalletMom to me @DianeMizota will win them!

-Diane Mizota, Host of This Week in M.O.M


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