Why Dance Recitals Are the Worst

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I realized this weekend that my poor daughter is, unfortunately, the child of a woman who was not meant to be a “girl” mom. Sorry, kid. I am never going to get excited about “girlie” things like make-up and hairstyles. I will not make a big deal over her Sweet Sixteen, her prom, or even her wedding. I’m going to roll my eyes at the girl drama and the giggling over boys. And I’m DEFINITELY NOT going to ever understand dance recitals.

Yesterday, she had her “dance” recital…even though she doesn’t dance. She goes to gymnastics classes, and for the past four years or so, she went to a gymnastics school THAT DIDN’T DO RECITALS. No costumes, no dress rehearsals, no dance routines. Just gymnastics. She went every week and learned gymnastics…not a three minute routine to be performed at the end of the year. It was perfect.

Unfortunately, the weekly trip gymnastic school was a bit of a trek and it was wearing us down…so we found something closer. The trade off was that this school had an end of the year recital.

Now when she was about five years old, she did ballet for a hot minute and there was an end of the year recital. She had a poufy tutu, glittery tiara, and a pair of fairy wings. The kids swayed back and forth on the stage for about three minutes. Some just sat on the stage and cried. It was adorable—an enjoyable hour out of my life that had actually brought a tear to my eye despite my hardened heart, so I figured…how bad could this recital be?

Holy crap, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

When I did gymnastics in the stone ages, they held the recital in the high school auditorium and I wore a black leotard and we bopped around to “Eye of the Tiger” while doing one handed cartwheels and front walkovers. Afterwards my mom took pictures with the Polaroid and we went to Buxton’s for ice cream.

Sure, I was pretty awful at gymnastics, but at least my parents didn’t have to go broke to watch and “celebrate” my mediocrity. That’s what I had been prepared for. That’s NOT what happened.

First off, the classes spent the entire YEAR prepping for these routines. They hardly learned ANYTHING else but the routine. My kid didn’t even learn anything she didn’t already know how to do because they were so focused on the recital routine. I basically paid tuition for  her to learn a three minute routine. 😒 A three minute routine…with an $80 costume. A mesh shirt, tank top and shiny leopard shorts…that’s $80???? Really?????

In addition, we paid a whooping $22.50 a person for these tickets. Because the high school auditorium isn’t good enough anymore. Nope. These kids need to have their recital on a “theater” stage. I’ve gone to concerts whose tickets cost less than these recital tickets. Like famous people with boatloads of talent concerts. In much better venues. It shouldn’t cost a family of four almost $200 to go see their kid do a tumblesault on a mat in shiny shorts and a tank top for God’s sake.

And the emails…oh God, the emails. Every single freaking day we got emails. First it was about volunteering to help out. I laughed so hard when I got that one that I seriously peed myself. Spend my day off with a bunch of screaming and giggling girls from the ages of 3 to 17? No thanks, I’d rather scrub the toilets with my toothbrush.🤨

After that came the emails about buying tickets. Not only were these tickets expensive, you were given a timeslot that you could wait in line to choose your seats for those tickets! Bonus…if you volunteered to help out you got to pick your tickets early! Uh what?😳 I really didn’t care where my seat was as long as I could see my kid on stage and the seat was in the theater. I refused to join the line that formed in the rain in front of the dance school the day the tickets went on sale. I bought my tickets three days later. (By the way, we were in the 8th row…practically on top of the stage.)😛

But the emails didn’t stop there. Next came the emails about the “studio run through day” and the dress rehearsal and picture day and all the days that the actual classes that I paid for were cancelled to accommodate  these special days.🤔

And even then it didn’t end. Finally came the emails about what tights to wear and how to do your hair and how to do your make-up so it was “stage ready”. Those emails really made me roll my eyes…I would be lucky if I could get my kid’s hair in a ponytail, let alone get “stage make-up” on her.

But of course, there were a lot of “girl” moms following these instructions to a T. At the dress rehearsal, Hubby and I watched with open mouths as a mom rolled in a suitcase the size of ME and started pulling her daughter’s costumes and make-up out of it.

There was another one who had her daughter’s costume changes on a rack that she wheeled into the building! She had a color coded chart that displayed which accessories and costumes went with which routine. I bet she even changed the kid’s hair for each routine, too. YOU SHOULD NEVER NEED A COLOR CODED CHART FOR A DANCE RECITAL UNLESS YOUR KID IS ON DANCING WITH THE STARS!!!!!😱

If that wasn’t enough torture, finally the recital day came. The damn thing was so freaking loooooong that they broke it down into two interminably long shows, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, presumably so that parents didn’t have to sit through five hours of a dance recital.

My kid was in one class with one routine…but lucky us…her class was in BOTH shows! Why????????😩😩😩

Side note: I was the worst parent ever and I just let a mom friend whose daughter was in the class take my child to the first show. I’m sorry, I have better things to do on a Saturday than watch a bunch of pre-teens in too tight costumes leap around on stage for hours on end. I only endured one half of the second recital and let me tell you…it was WAY TOO LONG.

I get it…there’s a lot of work that goes into pulling one of these shows off, but again I ask…why do it? Do they think the parents will be upset if they don’t? I bet you more than half the parents would celebrate a no-recital policy. I personally would be willing to pay MORE just not to have to suffer though another recital.

Sure some of the kids were really good, but most were just average. Some were even more uncoordinated than I am. I felt bad for these kids. There they were, up on stage in front of everyone, dancing away and most people weren’t even watching them…they were looking at their phones and praying for the intermission so they could leave.😕

I’m sure those die-hard “girl” moms out there are saying, “But I WANT to see my darling princess all dressed up! I want to see what she learned all year! I WANT to buy her a plastic trophy and get all excited about her ‘special day’! I don’t care if she’s completely sub-par at dancing and has no real talent at all! And I want to pay a $hitload of money, too!”🤩

Not me. I love her and I think she’s beautiful, but I want to see her do what she excels at. I want to make a big deal about THOSE things. I want to see her sing a solo in the school concert. I want to see her make honor roll. I want to watch in amazement at her You Tube video editing skills. Sure, she can do more gymnastics stunts than I ever could, but I’m not going to lie to her and exclaim “Oh my GOD you were AMAZING!” like the mom on the sidewalk in front of the theater did to her kid (who was by all accounts, pretty unforgettable and actually tripped over her own two feet).

They’re NOT amazing. They’re…okay. What are we setting these kids up for when we constantly celebrate mediocrity? Why do we have to give up eight solid hours on an already packed weekend to watch other people’s kids be average? Why are we showcasing EVERY FREAKING THING THESE KIDS DO??????

By the way…I confess that I DID get her flowers and make a big deal about the fact she kept her “stage face” on and smiled and got through the routine despite the fact she was recovering from a week of strep throat and was full of antibiotics and Advil. To me, that’s a bigger accomplishment than anything. She could have come home or refused to do the recital and let her classmates down because she felt like crap, but she pushed through and I made sure she knew that was a big deal in my eyes.

See, I’m not the worst mom in the world…I’m just average…like the rest of you.

2 thoughts on “Why Dance Recitals Are the Worst

  1. Ok, well I’ve got to say, I disagree strongly. As an adult, I still dance and perform in the yearly dance recital. It’s not about being girly. It’s about a love of dance/gymnastics. Saying that because the kids aren’t professional material means they shouldn’t perform would be like saying that a Little League team has no right to play because they’re not all being drafted into the MLB. Additionally, not to be discounted are the plethora of additional benefits kids receive from preparing to and performing: commitment to an obligation, teamwork, patience, exercise, strengthening, coordination, training the brain for the rhythmical movement, the benefits of music, memory strengthening, plus the confidence to get out in front of people. These are all skills that go far beyond the dance studio and the stage, and can carry a shy, uncoordinated girl far in life.
    Plus, let’s face it, everything looks better with sparkles. 🙂
    If you want my take on a dance recital from the other side of the curtain, check out my blog post. https://kathrynbiel.blogspot.com/2018/06/how-rude.html

    1. While I definitely appreciate the positive aspects of dance (I’m not saying dance/gymnastics is bad…quite the opposite), and not debating that at all, I feel that the recital has become a money-making racket that has little to do with dancing/gymnastics. And the bigger problem is that many of these parents go completely overboard. I see it everywhere, not just with dance recitals. It’s in cheering and little league and pop warner. My point was more about the “participation trophy” feeling to it all. And charging me an arm and a leg to watch my child perform for three minutes.

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