This year, Princess is taking a dance class through an actual dance studio for the first time. In the past, all of her classes have been through Parks and Rec, and they ended the session with a casual performance for parents. Once she showed a sustained interest, though, I thought it was time to move on to a real dance studio. I was hoping to expose her to the arts, develop her sense of rhythm and movement, and entertain her for an hour a week. To a certain extent, that is what I’ve gotten—but I’ve also gotten a few things I didn’t count on.
As any of you who have been part of A STUDIO knows, their year ends with a recital.
I am not a stranger to this custom. I took dance classes for ten years, and there were recitals every year. However, I don’t know if it’s the studio I chose (for the time of the class and its proximity to my home) or just some sort of child-obsessed insanity fueled by reality TV, dance competitions and kiddie pageants, but recitals have EXPLODED.
Participation in the recital is not required at Princess’s studio. However, if you aren’t in the recital you may as well not take the class for the entire spring semester, because prepping for the recital is the bulk of the semester, beginning in March and lasting through the THREE performances (conveniently scheduled on Father’s Day weekend). Besides, I figured Princess would enjoy the recital, so why not.
Then I got some information. Between the costume, “recital fee,” and “performance tights” (what, exactly, do they perform?) we’re in for the cost of a nice weekend away. The studio lets moms dancers eat sell candy as a fundraiser to defray these costs. “At least the recital benefits a charity,” I told myself, writing yet another check. Good news: the recital fee includes four tickets! Reality check: no one I know wants to attend a FOUR ACT dance recital when Princess is in ONE dance. Still, we’d made the commitment, so I just hoped for the best.
Last week I received the “recital packet.” Dancers are not permitted in the audience, so as an added bonus, I get to “volunteer” backstage for one performance. The packet also contained hair and make-up instructions. Apparently this place is serious about how their five-year-old ballerinas look on stage. Everyone wears the same hairstyle, and the make-up requirements read like they’re for a drag queen. I suppose I should be grateful she’s under 13 and so isn’t expected to wear false eyelashes. What I thought was exposure to the arts has turned into an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. I am THIS CLOSE to standing up Susan Powter-style and screaming, “STOP THE INSANITY!”
Princess, of course, is delighted with it all. She loves her costume, she can’t wait to wear make-up and have her hair done, and she’s looking forward to playing with her friends backstage. My in-laws are coming to watch her, which means she’ll get presents and all the fruit snacks she can eat. Maybe the dance studio knows what it’s doing. Maybe dance recitals are a bit like childbirth: in theory it seems fine, as you learn more details you kind of freak out and start to dread it, but after it’s over you only remember the good parts.
Do you think I can get an epidural?