Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dance Recital Season

On Saturday, my ten year old has her dance recital. I was one of those moms who took her to dance class at the age of three, then sat in the audience and cried when they came out and did an adorably shaky tap dance in the spring. We all cried, the moms, and presented our daughters with bouquets of flowers that were almost bigger than they were. I don't think any of the husbands understood this ritual, but they tolerated it well.

I know this is an area of my marriage that still puzzles my husband: he has no idea why I take her to these classes and then sit there and cry when she dances. I think he might start crying if I ever told him what we pay for these classes and costumes. I have sneaked into dance studios with bills rolled up in my pocket like I'm paying off gambling debt.

This year, Emma did tell me she's thinking of not taking ballet in the fall. The girls who dance, she explained, are snotty, and the teachers play favorites. (Sigh. I was wondering when she would notice that)

I sat through the rehearsal on Sunday, thinking something else: there is a wild obesity problem in kids. I don't watch a lot of tv, but I do read, and I knew about this, but to see the kids in tights and tutus touches you in a way that statistics never can. And the weirdest thing is their parents.

If you have a chubby child, that's one thing. But to put that child in tights and a tiara in front of hundreds of people is an entirely different thing. And the kids move, so the chub bounces around in terribly unappealing ways. I thought something about watching them was making me lightheaded until I realized I was holding my breath until they were done.

I get the dance classes are to help the kid lose weight, but recitals are entirely optional and you have to pay for them. Why do they do it?

And while I was sitting there, I was also thinking there is, on the whole, not a whole lot written about dance and dance classes in YA lit. There's tons of stuff on football and soccer and track, but I can't think of any MG or YA books that talk about the experience of having been involved with dance. Maybe I'm just ignorant on this, but it's a pretty common experience of American girls, and books on it seem far and few between.

Come to think of it, there's not a whole lot on cheerleading either, at least that I can think of. Cheerleading seems to be where a lot of former dance students land (but not my daughter -- her comment was, "Like I would ever cheer for a boy...) But cheerleading is getting huge, at least around here. And since it's uniquely YA territory, I would think titles would spring to mind. Did I miss them?


Mary Witzl said...

Both my daughters did ballet in Japan and I did it with them. Their teacher was the most amazing woman: an excellent teacher AND a brilliant dancer. What I loved about the classes was that they were held in an old office building and the girls wore old leotards and tee shirts to practice (the other class in town all showed up to practice dressed to the nines -- bunch of snobs). In our class, there were a handful of plumper girls, but they all worked SO hard -- anyone who didn't got chucked out.

In Scotland, we put our eldest daughter in a ballet class and the teacher herself was obese. Which would have been okay, but she did very little with the kids; there was almost no discipline, and the recital was a total farce. I missed our wonderful teacher back in Japan...

I've seen a couple MG books centered on ballet, but they're British...wish I could remember the titles!

Mary Witzl said...

And boy, did it cost a lot of money!! Especially the recital and renting the costumes and hall. My husband weeps just to remember it, but we both cried at the final performance.

Jeez, I've written War & Peace again... (Is it just me, or do we have a lot in common?)

Anne Spollen said...

I don't think there are any rules regarding blog comments, Mary, and I always like reading yours.

Yes, we do have a lot in common - it's almost scary.

I just feel so sorry for those plump girls who perform. I can imagine the comments when they return to school.

The money, I know. I just tell hubster, it's not free, and if he doesn't ask for numbers, I'm not offering any.

Not sure what to do about the snobs. The snob moms have seen me twice a week for years and they still won't say hi in the grocery store.

Anyway, amazingly cool that you did balled WITH your daughters. I would definitely do that, but I'm not sure if Emma would be too keen on it.

Colorado Writer said...

Snob moms are a fact of life.
Snob moms were the snob girls in high school.
We get snob moms on the baseball team, too. Their kids usually suck at sports and have perfectly pressed uniforms.

Glynis said...

Both my girls danced in the UK, I was the mum with the empty purse abd a pocket full of tissues. Boy was I pleased when they gave up, I could afford a new hairdo LOL

Bish Denham said...

I took 8 years of dance altogether; 4 of ballet, 4 of tap. The dance school did not do recitals. They put on full blown stage productions. It was a blast!

K.C. Shaw said...

I can't think of any books about dance classes or cheerleading. Sounds like you may have found a niche to exploit. :)

When I was a kid, all the girls either took tap or clogging, or piano lessons. I have all the coordination of a drunk giraffe, so I took piano. I also took some ballet lessons at seven, but my teacher told my mom "she doesn't like to move around much."

Nora MacFarlane said...

We live our life in the gym - 9-12 hours a week. We've been fortunate enough to not have come across many snob girls or parents. I think they work too hard to have the energy for snobbery! Gymnastics is another topic you don't see much in MG or YA novels. Gymnastics, like dance, is also a pocketbook breaker...

adrienne said...

We did the 3 yr old ballet recital thing (so cute!) but my daughter got bored with it. She moved on to gymnastics and then karate. I'll have to ask her about dance in YA - she's read everything.

I've always been bothered by the weight issue in kids - I couldn't believe the size some kids had achieved by the time they started school. It's as if there's a new standard for what is considered normal size.

Katie said...

You are so right! We do competitive dance at our house too. And there is dance in my YA, but not from the angle that you're referring to. hmm. Something to think about.

Megan Albitt said...

LOL -- that picture of the guy in the tutu!!!

Anne Spollen said...

Thanks, guys. Just saw these comments as this past week has been merciless.

I think Bish or Katie has to write the YA or MG with dance as a theme.

Welcome, Glynis!

Snob parents - pressed uniforms. If I got to the game with both a top and bottom to a uniform and no visible stains, I was on top of my own game...