Friday, June 14, 2013

Our footing isn't firm in dance recital world

From today's Briefing:

There are two kinds of moms — those who embrace the dance recital and those who do not.
At the risk of offending the former, I declare myself a member of the latter.
We are in the throes of preparation for Katie’s first-ever — perhaps only? — dance recital, and I am reminded why, for so many years, we avoided any dance class that culminates in a big, showy show.
Let’s begin with the cost.
I have paid for dance tuition every month since September. I have paid a dance recital fee. I have paid a dance costume fee. I have purchased specific shoes. I have purchased theater tickets for the privilege of watching my daughter perform a two-minute piece.
And, from what I can tell from studio rehearsals, she’s dancing in the back row the whole time.
Perhaps she was placed there because she’s unusually tall. Or maybe because her hip-hop moves are, well, not so hip.
No reason to despair, though. I will have no trouble spotting her face, as her features will be highlighted by garish color.
For eight years now, I’ve done everything possible to instill in my daughter the idea that we are all beautiful just as created. We need no makeup or piercings or hair dye or surgical enhancement.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those. I do not intend to offend an even greater demographic.)
So far her only splash of makeup has been nail polish. Next week, though, I will inexpertly apply foundation, blush, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow and shocking pink lipstick to my freckle-faced daughter.
It’s not just her face that will shimmer unnaturally. You should see the costume. Katie calls it “almost too crazy to believe.”
Black Converse. Black pants. Fairly basic stuff. Until you get to the ball cap, punctuated with a mass of silver sequins. Under the hat is a shiny purple scarf thing that wraps around the forehead. The scarf matches a shiny purple jacket, worn over a sequined crop top.
At least I call it a crop top. Katie calls it a bra, always followed by a gaggle of giggles.
I think the idea is to unzip the jacket just enough so that you see the sequins and a touch of belly.
Why did we sign up for all this?
Well, I didn’t exactly understand how seriously folks take their dance recitals. (Perhaps I should have watched Dance Moms before enrolling.) And Katie really did want to try an organized dance class.
Turns out she’s more of a disorganized dancer.
As the school year progressed, the appeal of class waned. She prefers moving to music on her own terms — not in line or in turn. By early spring, she was reluctant to attend practice. I insisted she stick with it because she’d made a commitment of time, and I’d made a commitment of resources.
I didn’t realize we’d committed to overdone makeup and a partially exposed midriff.
I’m certain that the night of the big show, I’ll have a cheerful spirit. I’ll hold my breath as Katie boogies on stage. I’ll hand her a small bouquet of flowers when the show’s over. Afterward, we’ll celebrate the culmination of months of hard work with frozen yogurt and decadent toppings.
And then, Katie will likely retire from her studio career.
Nothing will stop her, though, from busting out dance moves whenever music plays, whenever her joy can’t be contained.
That’s something I’m happy to embrace.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Contact her at

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