My daughter is in ballet this year. She’s a tot with a short attention span, and her class is performing a dance with a few dozen moves about 2 minutes long. This leads to comical assortment of girls standing and staring in confusion, girl’s doing half the moves, and those girls making up their own moves to the music.
We’ve come to recital time and in proper preparation, we’ve been through the “tech rehearsal” – giving the children and staff the opportunity to use the stage and set the lights. This is my daughter’s first time on a stage performing, and she’s a little unsure what to expect. But she’s brave and curious and does her best to follow the moves while a small group of parents and siblings watch on. They run through the routine three times before being dismissed. We don’t have to stay for the other parts of the rehearsal so we don’t. It’s time to hit the pool.
We’ve been through “dress rehearsal” – all of the dancers dressed in costume and makeup for a straight run-through of the show from beginning to end. No one is allowed in the auditorium during the rehearsal, so all of the girls (and four boys) are sequestered in the “dressing rooms” with the Backstage Moms while waiting their turn. I wait outside in the courtyard of the high school with my computer and pleasantly balmy weather while the majority of parents and siblings are waiting in the lobby annoying each other. I’m happy to be outside by myself with the pigeons and robins and sparrows. The two hours of alone time allow me to get quite a bit of editing work accomplished. I keep infrequent watch on the group inside in order to pick up a sign that they are ready to dismiss the dancers to their parents.
And now the recital. It’s early afternoon. In the dressing room, I help my daughter into her costume and fix her make-up. She’s actually very excited to wear the blush and eyeshadow and lipstick, though it only lasts as long as she keeps her hands off of her face. I had to buy the make-up specifically for her, since I don’t wear these contrivances on a daily basis and don’t keep them on hand. By the time she hits the stage, there won’t be any left. After promising that Mommy, Daddy, Brother, Grandma and Grampa will be watching from the audience, I leave her with her class and head out to the lengthening line of families waiting to be seated in the auditorium. Flowers by the dozens and gifts in frilly gift bags walk by. On the way in, we are handed colorful programs featuring a couple of pages for the actual program notes and rosters and about a dozen more with advertisements from local companies and family ads conspicuously boasting encouraging words for everyone to read. The high school auditorium is packed. Only a few free seats dot the sloped landscape of spring-loaded butt-traps.
I’m proud of my daughter. For a three-year-old, she’s accomplished quite a bit and she’s up on the stage with a smile and makes her way through the movements bit-by-bit despite the distraction of a full house of strangers. I’m disappointed with the teacher that the class did not learn more ballet basics and the routine was mostly about looking adorable – which they accomplished in full. We wait through two full hours and 27 performances to glimpse these few minutes of the Itty Bitty Ballet dancers.
Obviously, I don’t share the overly animated enthusiasm of some of the other moms. I want things to be run well, and I want to see my daughter learn independence as well as knowing when to synchronize with a group, and both of these valuable skills can be learned in these situations. Fortunately, this isn’t a competitive arena, at least not yet. She won’t be soloing for a while and she has a lot of work to do before she’s ready for that. I want her to enjoy experiences I never had the opportunity to attempt. She’s happy the recital is over and that she doesn’t have to do the dance again – she was getting a little bored with the same routine. She wants to dance again next fall, but maybe in the jazz class or tap. Come August, she’ll get to make choice, and I’ll be back in the waiting area of the studio reading books or trying to write for thirty minutes while dance moms, dads, and non-dance siblings fill the hard space with a cacophony of chatter.