30 years as owner and director of the Boulder City Ballet School in Boulder City, Nevada provided the opportunity for Amy Arnaz to affect the lives of hundreds of children and young adults. Motherhood and a background in dance make for a unique and rich perspective on raising children. Find out what Amy knows about:
Raising A Conscious Child
By Amy Arnaz
I remember being one year old, still in my crib, and understanding what the adults around me were saying. My parents never spoke baby talk to me. They spoke in full sentences and interacted with me as if I understood them — and I did. I clearly remember walking into the kitchen in my footed pajamas after just learning to walk and straightening out the carpet in front of the kitchen sink. My mother thanked me. She wore a dress and an apron and had oatmeal cooking on the stove. I remember being hungry that morning. Mom reconfirmed this memory with me later in life because she was impressed that a little girl would take notice of a crooked carpet.
Looking back on the carpet-straightening moment and many other moments I remember vividly from my early childhood, I was inspired to always be as present as possible, inwardly, while raising my daughter and while working with hundreds of children for 30 years in a dance studio I owned. During those years I always gathered my little dancers together before each class so we could say hello to each other. Sitting in a circle on the floor, my favorite question to them was: Do you remember being in your crib?
That question may not seem the most apropos way to begin a ballet lesson for children as young as three years old, but the answers were astounding. There were many yes answers with explanations that I would later verify with the parents. Did Mary really have a mobile hanging above her crib with stars on it? Could Susie really see her brother sleeping in a twin bed next to her crib? Did Lisa really have a rocking horse named Cookie Brownie? Did she really learn her colors from the colors on the dress of her Raggedy Ann doll?
I remember standing in my crib, which was immediately next to a window with a view into the back yard, and seeing my reflection in the window. I screamed with fear thinking someone was looking at me from outside — my first remembrance of fear. Mom explained it was a reflection and even then, so young, I understood. With so much evidence pointing to children’s innate awareness, I have dedicated myself to nurturing this awareness in them to give them a chance to STAY aware and not fall into a state of psychic slumber. I’m one person of thousands these children will interact with. But it only takes one spark to start a raging fire — a Spiritual Fire.
“Wake up!” — my parental motto. Always snapping my fingers to awaken my own daughter when I saw her daydreaming, carried over to snapping my dance students awake during class. It is so easy to drift off under the blanket of sleep and only a constant reminder to wake up will give a child the tools to one day jolt themselves awake.
To be alert, to keep our minds where our bodies are, to remember ourselves, are basic inner-life concepts that even very young children can comprehend. They love being snapped awake! To them it becomes a fun game and they enjoy it. They understand the difference between being awake and asleep. Many times a little person caught me asleep and giggled after saying, “Wake up Miss Amy!” A slightly humiliating experience for any adult but that humiliation is outweighed by the ultimate reward of knowing that little child was conscious enough to see MY sleep and snap me awake. Thank you little ones.
Why not plant these ideas in children so that later in life, when they are driving a car at 70mph down the freeway, they are less likely to drift off into a daydream and not remember driving the last 10 miles? In awareness is safety. What better lesson to give any child than teaching them about awareness? Yes, proper execution of a pirouette and a grand jete’ are essential lessons in ballet class, but adding awareness on top of that is icing on the cake.
For me, the first step in Raising A Conscious Child, is to notice them asleep and with a snap of my fingers and a cheery voice say, “wake up!” They’re smart. They feel the contrast between being gone in a daydream/unconscious stupor versus the energy and brightness of being snapped into a state of awareness. My dance students loved my description of being “gone” as being in Lala Land. With the world going a million miles an hour in all directions, with electronics that steal children’s souls, with sleep dominating most everyone, it is imperative to share Right inner-life principles with children. We, as adults who are trying to be conscious, are their first line of defense against the tsunami of sleep that is awaiting them IF they don’t have the rescue of Awareness in their Spiritual Toolkit.
Love the Light and Remember Yourself,
I grew up in Las Vegas and received my initial 10 years of ballet training from Christina Carson. I met Bunny Hull in ballet class when we were 7 years old and we have remained friends our entire lives. After summer study at the Joffrey School in NYC and dancing with the San Diego Ballet Company and Nevada Dance Theatre, I opened my own ballet school in Boulder City, NV and owned it for almost 30 years. My husband, Desi Arnaz Jr., and I purchased and renovated the Historic Boulder Theatre which was built in 1933. The theatre is now home to non-profit Boulder City Ballet Company which Desi and I founded in 1997. Besides dedicating her life to her ballet students, Amy also works with the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society in their TNR program (trap-neuter-release) to control the feral cat colonies living in our neighborhood. She has one daughter, Haley, who also loves ballet. She loves working with children and living in small town America with 5 cats and their scruffy dog, Jelly.
In the featured photo: Amy and daughter, Haley