Well, we all survived the yearly dance recital again. Yay.
Katie has been dancing for about 8 years now (she’s 11). Last year she was at a new studio, and after seeing how much absolutely every class AND the dance company sucked at the recital, we found yet another new studio for this year. It’s much more expensive in tuition and in the myriad fees for everything you can think of. The change was worth it, thankfully.
And, of course, right before the recital we had to buy new shoes for all three classes because they decided that the colors they had us get at the beginning of the year weren’t the right colors for the recital. That’s way annoying—two pairs of $30 shoes that won’t fit by next fall when classes start again, and a pair of $18 ballet slippers that may or may not fit by next fall.
And none of them REALLY fit that well even now. Katie has long, narrow feet. Acrobatic, jazz, and ballet shoes (at least the ones we can find) do not come in narrow sizes. Nobody can tell me why that is—it’s especially important that shoes you’re going to dance in fit, right? We had to put insoles and heel grippers into them to get them to stop falling off her heels quite as much. That isn’t the studio’s fault, of course—but why don’t the manufacturers make them in narrow sizes in the first place?
At least the venue for the recital was FAR nicer than the one last year—a real theater, not a crappy high school auditorium. We didn’t really realize that both the recitals would be three hours long, though. And one of Katie’s classes was dancing in the first recital, two were in the second. At least none of them were in the other two recitals scheduled for today! Theater seats aren’t really intended to sit in for six hours a day, as far as I’m concerned. My back is NOT happy.
I had to wonder about some of the musical choices. Of course, like everybody else, they had to wave the flag frantically this year (plans for the recital are made in the fall, and 9/11 was very fresh in everyone’s minds). But they have LOTS of classes and they were obviously running out of patriotic songs. I truly believe Woody Guthrie is spinning in his grave. Not one but two classes of tiny tap dancers pattered around on stage to the sounds of a saccharine soprano singing “This Land is Your Land” (only the first two verses, of course). Tiny tots wearing iridescent spangles and cotton-candy-pink fringe (with matching pink feathers in the hair) and NOT what I think of when I hear that song. And tap dance? That was just too odd for that one. The ballet to “Stars and Stripes Forever” worked better than I thought it would. But the class that used “In the Navy” for their ballet number — well, no, that didn’t work at all.
The studio teaches ballet, jazz, tap, modern, lyrical, acrobatics, and hip-hop for children and adults. There were 3‑year-olds and grannies I’d guess at being in their 60s on stage at various times. People of all ages, sizes, races, and varying levels of talent performed, and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. That made it much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. There was a lady my size (and probably about my age) in some of the tap and jazz numbers—maybe it isn’t too late for me to learn after all 🙂
I did get a little tired of seeing the dance company. They’re good, yes, we all know that. But a few pieces by them in each recital would really be more than enough—maybe one of each dance style at the most? Because let’s be honest, 90% of the people there do not have kids in the company and are simply there to see their littluns dance.
I figure the focus on the company is marketing, though—to have a prayer of getting into the company, students need to take a lot more classes, go to the summer intensives, etc. They must have jazz, tap, and ballet skills, and are very strongly encouraged to take modern and lyrical dance as well. Many of them are taking classes six days a week. That’s not only a lot of money in tuition (and costumes and fees), it’s just a lot of time in class for the girls and a lot of time their parents have to spend getting them back and forth. And honestly, it’s a lot of devotion for a pre-teen. And talking to the dance company parents, most of them have been putting in that high level of time and money from the time the girls were 5 or 6 years old, which makes me think that dance may have been more a parental priority than the girls’ choice. But having them wanting to get in the dance company is a total win for the studio because it fills more classes. Whether that much single-mindedness is really healthy for the girls? Well, that’s something that worries me, so I’m honestly fairly relieved that Katie hasn’t shown any interest in going to that level.