Matthew Munson: Bryan’s passion for dancing

Preparing for the show at The Malthouse

Seeing your child find a passion in life is wonderful; it can fill you with a sense of joy and pleasure to know that they’re finding their way in the world. Whether that’s sport or reading or dancing or cooking, we should always encourage our children to find their niche.

For me, it was writing; I love language and communication, so it’s a natural fit. For my son, it’s dancing; something that is totally alien to me (I can barely walk in a straight line, let alone dance), but totally natural to him. He moves to music so automatically that I am in awe of his abilities, so finding him a dance school was entirely logical.

I tried one dance school for a very brief time, but it wasn’t right for him; it just wasn’t the right fit, and covid lockdowns brought that swiftly to a close – so that when we could venture out into the world again, a new dance school beckoned, and he has flourished ever since.

During this first week of the summer holidays, Bryan has been involved in a show with his dance school. Previously, Masque (Bryan’s dance school) has performed at the Winter Gardens, but with its sad closure last year, the school needed to find a new home for their show. They found a home in the Malthouse Theatre, which is a purpose-designed theatre for the King’s School in Canterbury. It gave Bryan’s school the chance to do three shows instead of two, and work in some lovely new premises.

Of course, it would have been lovely if the theatre could have been closer to home, to avoid some of the travel, but that’s a selfish desire. Given the beautiful surroundings of the theatre, I can’t complain.

We spent four days there in total, and Bryan and I fell quickly into a routine; not getting home until 11pm at the earliest (sometimes later), and getting Bryan into bed by midnight, wasn’t a major concern just for a week. It allowed Bryan to experience something a bit different for a few days, and spend time with his friends and showing off his dances to paying audiences.

I offered my services as well for the week – well, I was going anyway, so it would have been churlish of me to just sit there in the corner of the auditorium and read (as much as I would have liked to do that at least for a bit of the week). I was a helper in the boys’ changing room; there weren’t many of them compared to the far, far larger number of girls in the school (that’s just the nature of the beast, it would seem), so they weren’t exactly high-maintenance. Myself and a licensed chaperone needed to make sure that the boys went down to the stage at the right time, and then bring them back to the dressing room and ready in their next costume.

In some ways, it was a simple enough task, but I was also absolutely shattered by the end of the week; walking up and down the stairs gave me a twinge in my back, and I had also inherited my son’s cold towards the end of the week – so you can imagine that I was undoubtedly a delight to be around. I (partially) jest; I actually found myself rather enjoying the week – the students were lovely and easy to manage, and once I got used to the layout of this four or five storey building, it was a lot easier to get to the stage without getting lost. They were all there to have a lovely experience on stage, and I got to see Bryan performing from my side of the stage position as well.

The last night, I sat in the audience, along with my mum and dad, and got to watch it “front on” – I was a very proud dad, as you might imagine. Seeing my son express his talents was wonderful; it’s such a joy, and I’m so proud of him.

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