I knew what Earl Turner was doing Tuesday night: watching his son Aaron tap his way into the top 20 of the Fox competition “So You Think You Can Dance.”
So I called the veteran entertainer the next day, grilling him with long-standing questions about the families of successful show people.
Do the children always assume they too will go into show business? Do they figure their parents’ connections will give them a shortcut? Or does simply growing up in a show business environment make this unusual life seem more normal?
What about the parents? On one end of the spectrum, there’s the stage mother from “Gypsy.” On the other, parents who push a “civilian” career, telling their youngsters that success so much depends on luck and timing that lightning may not strike twice.
In separate conversations, Earl and 25-year-old Aaron confirm a unique twist on these issues. Aaron, it seems has danced so long — since he was 10 — that he was kind of tired of it, ready to do other things, and only auditioned for “Dance” after finishing college robbed him of the ability to say it would distract him.
Not quite making the cut last year brought him back with a serious determination, he says. Otherwise, he was busy enough teaching at Bunker Dance Center, with his DJ outfit The Bombmakers and with helping transition the family’s home recording studio into a commercial enterprise.
“Music is so deeply rooted in our family that I just couldn’t have imagined me not ending up in some form of music,” Aaron says.
Dance turned out to be “that bridge to everything else I started doing. ... It was that door that opened up all other doors.”
But his dad “never had to push it on me, and he never did.”
“Where it falls ultimately is where the child’s interests lie,” Earl Turner says. “The greatest thing you can do as a parent is to recognize that and to get out of the way.”
During those years Aaron didn’t want to audition for “Dance,” Earl says he reminded himself not to add up the price of dance lessons over the years, but to sit back and say, “I get that.” His own parents didn’t try to talk him out of leaving home and “running away with a band,” and “look how it turned out for me.”
That said, parents do relish their “told you so” moments.
Earl says that after Tuesday’s show, he told Aaron, “Remember when you were in middle school and you didn’t want anyone to know you were a dancer because you didn’t think it was cool?”
After the principal talked him into it, “the next thing you know, they voted him king of the eighth grade.”
“Sometimes there’s a plan for you. There’s nothing you can do about it; it’s just what your life is supposed to be,” he says.
“So, regardless as to how you try to deny it, avoid it, there’s a path you’re supposed to take. And your path includes dance. You’ve been a performer practically all your life.
“Sometimes God just has a different plan than the one we have,” Earl adds, citing his own career as a casino headliner in New Orleans being rained out by the storm Katrina. “My plan was to stay there four years. Obviously the plan was different. His life is going to include dance. It’s just the way it is.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.