The other six of us all got dressed up this past weekend and we headed out to watch Kid A dance ballet in her studio’s recital. It was held at a local high school that has its own performing arts center. I just love watching Kid A dance. Her movement is so precise and controlled and just peaceful to watch. But the dance recital just kills me. I don’t care how beautifully it is done. Dance recitals are torture.
Let’s start with the preparation of the dancer. Even the youngest of them (most studios have dance classes for kids as little as three-years-old) get full stage make up. I understand the reason for needing it (stage lights are very bright and they drown you out), and I guess some people find it cute to play drag queen with their toddler, but it seems so very wrong to have these kids wearing six times more make-up than most strippers wear to work. Then there’s the shellacked hair bun, which requires seventeen-thousand pins plus a net to hold it in place and a rocket scientist’s mom (because even the rocket scientist needs a mom’s help with this thing) to assemble. And they don’t make enough chemicals to remove this stuff, so you’d better just get used to it. Your dancer is going to look this way for most of the summer.
"You will TOTALLY were these again!" said their dance teacher.
Let’s move on to the costumes… they usually come in several parts, none of which I can ever figure out how to put on in the right order. And they never come with assembly instructions, and I end up trying to put it together like it is a 250-piece play kitchen and I’m panicking at midnight on Christmas Eve. It’s a good thing that Kid A is paying attention. Oh, and you’ll need to buy new tights for the show. The kind that you’ll never use again, and they cost half of a week’s worth of groceries. The really great thing is that you get to keep the costumes!
Then there is the sales portion of the recital. There are professional photo sessions (individual and group), DVD sales, poster sales, flower sales, and sometimes even keepsake sales to remind the dancers of the particular experience (As if the actual digital footage of the whole show to the tune of $40 a copy would not remind them enough. No, they need a stuffed polar bear in a tutu made in Taiwan by a six-year-old who gets paid three cents a day to truly remind them).
Finally, we get to the day (or days! with multiple showings! like Broadway!) of the dance recital. The performance is usually held in the middle of some unincorporated town, at least six hours away from the studio. On top of that, your dancer has a call time that is three hours prior to when the doors open to the public. Until then, no one is allowed to come in out of the sweltering heat and sit down in an auditorium that never has enough seats, and then only the very front row has an unobstructed view. Most of the time the air conditioning in the theater will crap out about an hour into the first half of the performance. By Intermission (yes, the show is long enough to justify an intermission), you are so sick of watching all of the variations of “kick ball change” and dancers cross leaping across the stage that you consider encouraging your dancer to try Chess Club instead next year.
Business Idea: Figure out how to get approved for a temporary liquor license inside of a school to provide a mobile cash bar for dance recitals. Offer theme drinks, such as “Ballet Bombers,” “Jazz Hands Off My Drink,” and “Beer Straight from the Tap Shoes.” Provide special honorary seating for dads and grandfathers who got dragged there by the moms trying to relive their own unfulfilled hopes and dreams.
Nevertheless, we all went to watch and support Kid A while she performed in her annual recital. I sat next to someone who reeked of cigarettes and Sheepdog sat near someone who needed more deodorant. We all smiled and clapped and cheered, especially when Kid A was on stage – and she danced so beautifully – but mostly we cheered when it was over. That is just what you do. You support the ones you love, even when it is complete torture. Because that is how childhood dreams and memories are made… on the proud shoulders and empty wallets of the parents who love them unconditionally.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…