Tag Archives: ballet

The Five Year Old Professional

I’m not meant to be a dance mom. I’ve always found watching dance to be incredibly boring, even when I go to professional performances. When I signed Lily up for some preschool level dance classes 2 1/2 years ago, I had no idea the torture I’d be in for. Watching Lily dance is cute, but everything else that goes along with this dance racket is beyond annoying.

Last year we managed to dodge the horrors of dance recital by sending Lily to a family wedding. From what I hear, we were lucky to skip it because the recital ended up being 2.5 hours of torture for the other dance moms. The stage managers AND the dance teacher treated everyone like crap.

This year, Lily insisted on being in the recital. So, we paid for the costume in December, sight unseen with no description given to us. A couple weeks ago, this monstrosity was forced into our hands.
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When did Lily enroll in circus whore classes? I thought we were taking dance?

Big bird threw up itchy yellow tinsel all over Lily’s costume and all the girls were miserable in it. The girls scratched themselves raw.

And then the emails started up. Email after email came about various rehearsals and recital particulars, many of which had nothing to do with our class. At one point an email came about rehearsal times. It listed a bunch of classes individually. Our class was not listed so I assumed it was another “Why the hell can’t they send specific emails JUST to THAT class?” email. Nope. That email was for me. Though 20 classes were listed individually, I was supposed to read every single line of that email instead of just search for our class among the chronological listing of classes. Hidden among all the classes was the statement: 10 AM Recital Rehearsal at 6:30.

What the hell? I’d hate for our rehearsal to be clearly labeled. I didn’t realize this email was for us until another dance mom translated it for me.

We were informed RIGHT BEFORE recital and pictures that our shoes NEED to be white! Oh the horrors if all the kids’ shoes didn’t match! What would “people” think? You know what would have been a good idea? Telling us we needed white shoes WHEN WE STARTED THE DANCE CLASS and were buying dance shoes. I used white shoe polish on Lily’s shoes because I’m a sheep. I should have just told her dance teacher to bite me.

And then the recital handbook came. Here are some gems from it:
* “Please purchase new tights for the recital and do not wear or wash them before Photo Week or performance.”
Because people can TOTALLY tell if tights were previously used from the audience, I’m sure. WHAT IF a tiny bit of dirt showed on someone’s tights during recital? It would surely ruin the whole show. The instructions went on to require that we bring not one but TWO new pairs of tights. Who is paying for these tights?

*“DO NOT WEAR COSTUMES INTO THE RECITAL HALL. This is considered unprofessional.”
Who exactly do they think was coming to see our show, which was mostly composed of 3-6 year olds? Since when are 3-6 year olds professional? Since when is a small town’s dance studio considered professional?

*”Please note: no video or flash photography will be allowed in the auditorium at the recital.”
That’s right, we weren’t allowed to take a video of our 5 year old’s dance recital. But don’t worry! The studio is selling DVDs of the performance for $15! Nevermind that we already spent $80 on this recital in tickets and costume fees– more on make-up and tights and pictures. Let’s pay for a DVD too! I didn’t even get to watch this recital, by the way. Mothers of dancers Lily’s age are required to sit backstage with their kid. This is a fact they don’t warn you about until AFTER ticket sales are over. I was warned in advance, but I know a lot of moms dropped $15 on a ticket for themselves not knowing that they would never actually set foot in the audience.

And in case that wasn’t clear, that’s right, we had to pay $15 a person to pay to watch our kid do a dance we paid money for her to learn. Oh! And glossy programs were $15 because they were “souvenirs”. That’s right, for the low low price of $15 I could look at a glossy book that probably just listed my daughter’s class and not even her name. What a bargain!

As an afterthought in the recital handbook, they listed directions to the recital hall, which is in a totally different location from our dance studio. It was under “Misc.” at the very end of the handbook buried in a bunch of unimportant information like “Make sure your name is on everything!”. Isn’t the location of the recital the kind of information that needs to be front and center? The recital hall is part of the university and has no address to plug into a GPS. I wasn’t able to find it without a campus map.

As the grand finale to the ridiculousness, my daughter’s class got yelled at during the show for walking in the hall wearing tap shoes. It went something like this “Ok, dancers, are your tap shoes on? Good, walk up here in a straight line! WHAT ARE YOU TAPPING FOR? HOW DARE YOU TAP!”

The recital was less painful than I was expecting because it was a full hour shorter than last year’s and Lily performed at the very beginning, middle and end. There wasn’t nearly as much down time as I was expecting.

That said, I am so finished with this dance studio. Luckily, Lily says she is done with dance, but even if she weren’t, NEVER AGAIN at that studio. NEVER AGAIN.

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Bad Dance Mom

I did a stupid thing last year. I signed Lily up for ballet lessons. After the disaster that was soccer, I hoped we could find something she’d like. What I should have thought about more when I signed her up for ballet was whether or not I, the mother who has to sit through dance recitals, would like it.

I hate watching people dance. The second people I don’t know get on the stage and start leaping around, I zone out and wonder how many more numbers I have to sit through. I look at the clock and count the seconds. I check the program again and again and count how many more numbers are left before I can escape and do math problems about how long each number should take. The same thing happens at piano recitals, choir and band concerts and, um, synagogue. If there’s no dialogue or plot, I get antsy. I’m probably in for a lot of this torture in various forms in the coming years.

Signing my daughter up for ballet when I hate watching people dance was a dumb, dumb idea. After the first Christmas show, I really wanted out, but I felt obligated to finish out the year and Lily was LOVING it.

After the first year of ballet, Lily is still really into it. “I just love going to school and ballet. Those are my favorite things that I do.”

Great.

Now she’s in a ballet/tap combo class because that’s what our friends were signing up for. Since she is dancing with two types of shoes, this means she will have TWO numbers I have to wait for at every single recital. Yay?

I do have to give it to her that dance has the best accessories.


Don’t get me wrong, I love watching HER dance. There’s nothing cuter than watching a bunch of 3-5 year olds totally botch up a dance number. It’s more entertaining than watching the kids who actually know what they’re doing. The trouble is to get to my kids’ number, I have to watch a bunch of other junk. Despite the fact that the 3-5 year old crowd is even worse at sitting through dance recitals than I am, the routine for the little kids always seem to be at the very end of the show, which makes absolutely no sense given their attention span (and mine). Yesterday, we sat in a crowded mall food court for an hour waiting for Lily to take the stage. It was almost 8 pm before she danced. That’s bedtime! Ridiculous.

The trouble with being a dance mom to a 5 year old is you always have to be available to watch your kid back stage. You can’t just leave a 5 year old alone. They don’t have baby-sitters lined up for them. Recitals are crowded and insane and you have to make sure your too-little-to-just-say-meet-me-here kid can find you when they are released from the stage. I end up standing just off stage where she can see me. This means that I don’t actually get to watch the recital at all.

So this is what the recital ends up being: Me, standing behind the stage annoyed with an anxious 5 year old waiting and waiting and waiting forever for my kid to dance somewhere where I can’t even see her dance.

This was my amazing view of my daughter dancing. I'm so glad we came out so I could see that.


Meanwhile, I have to vaguely watch a bunch of other kids I don’t care about dance dances I wouldn’t be interested in seeing even if they were danced by professional ballerinas. I feel tortured and bored for what feels like hours on end but is actually only an hour.

And I SHOULD really want to see my kid dance in these recitals. Instead, I dread it and often discuss other activities Lily can do. Gymnastics! Soccer! Swimming! Piano!

But when I think about those things, I groan when I think about the other things I’d have to sit through: gymnastics exhibitions, soccer games when I hate watching sports, swim meets, piano recitals. Yuck, boring, BORING! Again, I like seeing HER do these things, but watching all those other kids is SO boring. This may be one of my biggest obstacles as a parent yet– to pretend to be enthusiastic about the idea of sitting through this stuff.

Giving Lily other options hasn’t changed anything. She still wants dance.

Ugh, I hope I don’t have to be a dance mom forever. And I hope whatever activity she chooses down the line has minimal boring things for me to pretend to be a fan of. I fail at dance mom. Will I fail at choir, piano or soccer mom as well?

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Mondays Aren’t For Dancing

New rule: Never sign your child up for Monday classes.

We made a terrible mistake this year when signing Lily up for a school year’s worth of ballet classes. We signed up for the class that seemed to work best with our schedule. I wanted a daytime class early in the morning enough to not interfere with afternoon preschool. I never thought about what day of the week the class was except that I didn’t want it on Fridays since Lily doesn’t have preschool that day and we enjoy the freedom of that day.

The girls were confused about what they were doing at dance on a Wednesday.

It didn’t take long to realize Monday classes always get canceled. Think about it. If a holiday falls on the weekend, you get Monday off. The dance studio is closed for all national holidays. We get to take make-up classes when the school is closed, but this means rearranging our whole week and putting Lily in a class that isn’t her own. This semester alone the dance studio was closed at least five times. If I remember correctly, the dance studio was closed for Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day and Easter. It also was closed for a (ridiculous. It was warm and had barely snowed!) snow day and when our dance teacher’s mother was having surgery. We’ve been to at least six make-up classes this semester due to the studio being closed and another one because Rose was too sick to tag along one Monday. Sometimes I feel like we see the girls in the make-up class more often than we see the girls in Lily’s actual class.

It’s truly ridiculous. I will never sign up for a Monday class again. And you shouldn’t either.

Trust me, it’s not worth it even if the class is at the best possible time of day. Go for the Wednesday class. You’ll probably be there for make-up classes more often than you actually attend your Monday class anyway. I know we are.

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The Would-Be Ballerina

Last Monday I realized Lily’s ballet recital was the exact same weekend as my cousin’s wedding.

I wasn’t sure what to do. Lily has been working toward this recital since September and it didn’t seem fair to make her go to a wedding instead of the recital with her friends, especially when she’d just received this amazing costume.

We paid $45 for that thing.

I am not going to my cousin’s wedding myself. I will be 36-weeks pregnant and the wedding is 4 hours away. Traveling like that while obscenely pregnant seems like tempting fate. My husband volunteered to take the kids to the wedding so they could all see my widely scattered family, some of whom have not even met Rose.

Since I’m staying home, I decided that Lily would stay with me so she could still have her special day. It made sense to me at the time because she’s worked very hard for her recital. She hasn’t seen my cousin in 2 years and I’m not sure if Lily knows who she is (though I’ve shown her pictures). I thought it would be more fair to Lily to let her dance in her special recital in her special costume with all her friends.

We were trying to decide if my husband should return home overnight so he could see Lily dance. The wedding is Friday night. The recital is Saturday morning. I asked Lily if she would be upset if Daddy missed her recital because he was going to be at the wedding with Rose.

Lily: I want to go to the wedding!

Me: But your recital is at the same time as the wedding. If you want to dance in your costume on a stage with your friends, you need to stay here and miss the wedding.

Lily: I don’t want to go to the recital. I want to go to the wedding! I want to see people get married!

Ok then. Dr. Toy Warden and I were trying to figure out if he could get her back in time for the recital. When I suggested Lily would be able to do both, but she wouldn’t stay in the hotel, she got upset.

Lily: I want to stay in the hotel with Daddy! I don’t want to dance on a stage! I want to go to the wedding with everyone else! I just want to go to the wedding!

I don’t know what she thinks is going to happen at this wedding, but she’s made herself pretty clear. Lily will not be performing in her dance recital and you know what? I’m kind of glad. It may make me a horrible mother, but I’m relieved I don’t have to sit backstage entertaining a 4 year old for hours. I’m also relieved that we don’t have to pay $15 a person to watch our child dance for 2 minutes and suffer through hours of other kids dancing while trying to entertain a 2 year old.

Would the recital have been adorable? Absolutely. But the truth is it would mostly be a headache for us with 2 minutes of stage time in a cute costume.

So really, Lily just made the best decision for all of us! She gets to have fun at a wedding. My extended family gets a rare chance to spend time with her, and I don’t have to suffer the headache of whatever goes on backstage while baby-sitting my 4-year-old during a recital or watch a bunch of strangers’ kids dance when I get bored watching professional ballet.

Sounds good to me!

I will miss the cuteness, but we can pretend like it happened anyway because they take professional pictures of the girls at the studio the week before the recital.

Thanks, Lily!

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Ballerina Wannabe

Every Monday, Lily has a ballet class and Rose has to tag along with us. The first month or so of class, Rose would burst into tears when she didn’t get to go into the dance class. Rose is big for her age and I mistakenly put Lily in the class for 3 year olds instead of 4 year olds, so 2-year-old Rose looks like she belongs with the other girls in class. Rose is pretty much the same size as they are.

Rose eventually accepted that she is not in the class, partially because she thinks it’s a ton of fun to hang out with our friend’s son while the class is in session. Lately, though, Rose has yanked off her shoes the second we walk into the studio and dances around the waiting area with all the other girls. She refuses to put her shoes back on while she’s at the studio and wants to spend the rest of the day in socks since the other girls are out of their street shoes.

I decided to get Rose a pair of used ballet slippers so she could really dance around the studio with the other girls and NOT be barefoot or in just socks all around the studio and nearby play area. I thought she would think it was fun to wear slippers just like the other girls. For just $5, it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

When Rose saw she had ballet slippers to change into at dance class, she was ecstatic.

Until…

The other girls went into ballet class and Rose had to stay out in the lobby with me.

The whole jealousy over Lily being in dance class when she was not was renewed. I hadn’t thought of it, but when Rose saw she had ballet slippers she thought SHE would get to join ballet class after all these months. She was heartbroken that this was not the case. She cried and cried.

Oops.

It’s the thought that counts?

When Rose is old enough, we will put her in ballet. Until then, she’ll just have to watch from the sidelines. Barefoot.

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Not a Princess

Even though soccer went horribly, I didn’t pull Lily out of the ballet class we’d already enrolled her in. For one thing, we’d already invested in a leotard, tights and dance shoes, for another, the class sounded completely awesome. It was called Fantasy Princess Ballet. For 40 minutes, the girls get to dress in princess gowns and learn how to dance to princess music while reenacting stuff from princess movies. True, my daughter hasn’t been big into costumes or princess movies, but it was hard for me to see how any little girl wouldn’t love a class like this. I would have LOVED to take a class like this when I was her age… or now. I didn’t care what she said, she was taking this class! It’s all about ME! ;)

The first day of ballet, I was pleasantly surprised by how excited she was to put on her ballet clothes and go to the studio. She kept saying “Can I dance now? How about now? Is it time to dance yet?” When we got there, a class of older kids was dancing in a large windowed studio and Lily freaked out. She wanted to go in with them. Good signs! This was going to work.

So we go into the classroom and all 15 little girls are enthusiastically changing into princess costumes. There’s a fantastic selection and I wish I could dress up with them! The girls were having so much fun.

So I ask Lily what costume she wants to wear and she says “Nothing,” or more specifically “Nothwin”. I point out that everyone else is wearing costumes and she says “I’m already wearing a costume. I’m dressed like a ballerina. I just want to be a ballerina!”

I point out that she’d STILL be a ballerina in the princess outfit, just a ballerina dressed like a princess.

“I just want to be a ballerina everyday. I don’t want to be a princess!”

And so, that’s how my daughter ended up being the only child in a class of 15 who doesn’t want to wear a princess costume in her Fantasy Princess Ballet class.

In a way, it’s sort of a plus. The parents watch the dance class on a monitor in the lobby, but the video quality is somewhat poor. Since all the (mostly blonde) girls are wearing similar princess costumes, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. My friend spends the whole class trying to determine which one is her daughter! I can tell right away who Lily is– she’s the only one not wearing a dress. (This also makes her stand out badly to the other parents when she twirls around and doesn’t sit still when the teacher is talking to them. Everyone has commented on what the little girl in black is doing.)

I’d say maybe it was a first dance class thing, but our LAST dance class is this week and she’s not worn a princess costume for ANY of the classes. I’d be a little more disappointed that the princess aspect of the dance class was lost on her, but she’s so enthusiastic and happy about ballet that the class was completely worth it.

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