All she wants to do is dance; stepping outside the box and into years of memories

ST. STEPHEN – Never hesitate to jump on an opportunity to spend quality time with your kids, even if what they want you to do is a bit outside of your box. That’s the advice from Ken Brown of St. Stephen, who has been doing the daddy/daughter dance classes at Katrina’s Danceworks for the past nine years. Brown, the proud father of Emily Brown, who graduates from St. Stephen High School this year, said he never hesitated to say ‘yes’ when she asked him if he would take part in the classes with her.

Brown, who said he has attended every dance recital from “day one”, said his daughter was one of the first students at Katrina’s Danceworks, and that she and her cousin were pictured on the first brochure created by dance studio owner Katrina Dunwoody.

“My daughter was already in dance, and there was a dads’ dance class at the time,” said Brown. “She asked her mother, ‘do you think dad would do this’, and she said, ‘well, why don’t you ask your dad yourself’. So, one day she asked me.

“It was just before the International Festival parade. They were in the parade. They had a vehicle and they were dancing behind the vehicle with the music going. She asked me before that, ‘Dad, would you consider doing dads’ dance with me’, and I said, ‘sure I would, why wouldn’t I’.”

Brown’s daughter, Emily, said she had watched some of the older girls doing the daddy/daughter dances, and she thought it looked like a lot of fun. So, she asked her father if he would do this with her. She was thrilled when he agreed, and she enjoyed having that special time with him every week.

“Just having that time carved out every Tuesday night for the two of us, to go do something together, it’s just really special. It shows me how much my dad cares about me, that he was willing to do something that was outside of his comfort zone with me,” said Emily Brown.

Brown said before the parade began, he approached Dunwoody and told her he would be taking the class that fall. She was thrilled, and then asked if he would mind handing out brochures during the parade. He agreed, and walked the parade with the dancers, and said his dancing “career” has been “full-tilt” ever since.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with it,” said Brown. “I’ve got two left feet, but that’s not the point. That’s not the only way I spend time with my kids, but it’s just a little thing that we do. You get to meet some of the other dads, and it’s quite fun actually.”

Brown was surprised to learn there is a lot more to dancing than most people would assume. He is amazed at how Dunwoody and her dancers can remember all of the steps for every dance routine they work on, and said he is lucky to even know what he is doing half of the time while on the dance floor.

This father/daughter duo has always been “tight”, according to Brown, and he said taking part in these classes with her has brought them even closer. He said he has gotten to meet “a lot of good guys, good dads”, along with their daughters, which he said is another great thing about getting involved with the class. Throughout the past nine years, they have enjoyed many good times together, both at classes and at dance competitions at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John.

“We did that, and the first year we took platinum. We’ve never taken less than gold,” said Brown.

Brown really enjoyed the competitions, which involved two dance routines, a slow dance and a fast dance. He said the slow dance is the “tear-jerker”, while the fast dance is fun and often provides lots of laughs for the audience. Every so often, there are also some wow moments, such as when one of the dads is actually able to pull off a backflip. Brown said he isn’t that good.

The emcee for the competition didn’t know there was going to be a father/daughter dance. When he went to the basement and saw the men in their suits with ties that matched their daughters’ dresses, he asked what was going on. Mark Downey, who was there with his own daughter, told him about the daddy/daughter dance.

“He said, ‘what’, so all told him what it was,” said Brown. “He’s like, ‘no way, wow, sweet’, and he’s just hyped right up and giving us all high fives. Ever since that, we were his favourite number. He always looked forward to us.

Brown said he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that other fathers get involved with the daddy/daughter dance classes. He said he truly enjoyed the experience, and he thinks other fathers would get a lot out of it as well. This may very well be the last year he gets to have this experience with his daughter. But, she is unsure if she is going to attend university in the fall, or take a gap year. If she decides not to go, they have every intention of doing the class one more time.

“You only get one chance at this (parenting),” said Brown.