Charlotte at West Coast Swing

Erik, Anna, and Charlotte at West Coast Swing in Norwalk, CTLast Thursday, Charlotte made her debut at our West Coast Swing classes in Norwalk, CT. Originally, we weren’t sure when she was going to make her teaching debut, but we knew it would be after she had received her first round of vaccines in late July.

As August began to draw to a close, Anna and I realized that we needed to let Charlotte see West Coast Swing in a real studio. Until last Thursday, Charlotte had only seen mommy and daddy choreograph small moments in our apartment as I prepared for class.

We also realized that as Anna heads back to her PhD program at New York University and her independent tutoring schedule, we would have very few opportunities to bring Charlotte to class in the near future.

Preparing for Charlotte's dance experience

We prepared for Charlotte’s West Coast Swing debut by bringing the Pack & Play, a beach towel, and many diapers. We had no idea if Charlotte would laugh, cry, smile, or try to dance. We also had no idea how Charlotte would react to all the new faces, mirrors, and music.

We introduced Charlotte to our beginner West Coast Swing class. Anna was holding her as I began calling out the first 3 patterns: 2 Sugar Pushes, 2 Right Passes, and 2 Whips. Charlotte was watching in amazement. It was almost like she recognized the music and all the movements. It was like it almost made sense to her.

Teaching West Coast Swing with Charlotte

Since Charlotte was calm, I asked Anna if I could hold Charlotte while I taught. I lifted my little, almost-12 pound, daughter to my chest. She remained silent and carefully looked up at me as I gave my first corrections and suggestions to the class.

Of all the highlights of my dance career: successful students, trophies, routines, performances on TV; none were as monumental of hearing my daughter coo at me while teaching.

Erik Novoa teaching West Coast Swing with daughter, Charlotte

Dancing with Charlotte in the Baby Bjorn

I asked Anna if she could hold Charlotte while I put on the Baby Bjorn that we had brought. Using the Baby Bjorn, I would be able to dance with Anna or students, and utilize both hands. It was like a dream come true.

Erik and Anna demo West Coast Swing with Charlotte in Baby Bjorn

The beginner class went so much better than expected. Anna and I had prepared for Charlotte to get fussy, to change diapers, and even to find a way to get Anna home so she could put Charlotte to bed.

Instead, Charlotte fell asleep against my chest during the beginner class. It was like she had found her happy place with the music and dancing around her. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, Anna had danced with Charlotte until 38 weeks of a 41 week pregnancy.


Charlotte watches Int/Adv West Coast Swing

During the second, Intermediate/Advanced West Coast Swing class, Anna and Charlotte sat in a chair at the front of the class while Charlotte watched all the movement. With only a short diaper and feeding break, Charlotte stayed attentive for almost hour with out getting upset.

Erik teaches int/Adv West Coast Swing while Charlotte watches

At the end of the lessons, Anna and I placed Charlotte in her stroller (not her favorite place) and had our first dance so that Charlotte could watch. It was very special for us.

For those of you who were in our classes last Thursday, thank you for making it a very special family moment for us. Dance has been a secret ingredient for many magical moments in my life. I met Anna at one of my dances and now we are sharing our love of dance with our daughter. It was our first family dance.