Dance Class - with a side of guilt

Today was my daughter's last dance class for the season, but it wasn't the last class for the rest of her friends. We opted out of the recital and the last few weeks are spent entirely on recital readiness, so I decided to save us both the annoyance and end lessons early.

She had been asking for a break and the timing was perfect. Or so it seemed. Apparently, her teachers did not share my sentiment. As the only one that opted out of the recital, I'm sure they saw me as the ultimate cheapskate.

I'll be honest, we saved over $400 by not participating in the recital. Yes - I said $400. But that wasn't my only motivation. My daughter loves to dance, but she hated the "routines."

She said the structure of the class made her "exhausted." It took the fun out of dancing for her. That's why she was begging for a break. And the recitals are 4 hours long. For 4 hours, the girls wait behind the stage with their teachers. At some point (unknown to all but the dance company) they come out for their first routine. Then they head back stage for a costume change and wait some more. Then at some point they have their second routine. 4 hours, a crabby brother, and an exhausted little girl later, the recital is over. I didn't want to do that at 3 or 4 years old.

Maybe next year. Or maybe not after today's fun filled conversation with her dance instructors. I went up to their desk to inquire about her dance trophy. They were originally scheduled to be given out in March and since it was the last class of the month and we wouldn't be coming back, I wanted to be sure she got one. Not because I want more junk, but because she had been looking forward to it.

So I asked. They told me to stop by in the summer and pick it up and...."oh by the way, why are you taking the next month off from dance?" Well, she wants a break and since they'll only be working on recital details, it seemed like a good time. "What will you be doing instead?" We'll be hanging out at home, playing outside, that sort of thing. "Sounds boring." Hmmm... "You know, she's really good at dance. She would have been great at the recital." I'm sure she would have been great. Maybe next year. "Yeah.... you know she would have loved the stage. You really should have had her in the recital." Okay. I'm going to get her things ready.

Like moms need any extra guilt! This was a new form of peer pressure that I wasn't ready for. But whatever, I know why they're mad she isn't in the recital. And yes, part of it was a money saving situation. But a bigger part was a stress saving situation. I'm not going to put our family through extra stress or financial burden just because someone else thinks I should.

These same instructors coerced my friend into signing her daughter up for 4 consecutive dance classes (on top of swimming, gymnastics and kindergarten.) Her poor mom is run ragged and she's only 5. She spends so much time running from place to place and to competitions on the weekend. I don't want that life. Especially not at 3 and 4 years old. No thank you!


Lisa said...

You did the right thing for YOUR family and that's what is most important. And can I just say? I don't blame you one bit! Enjoy your free time playing with your kids~

Lisa @ All That and a Box of Rocks

Melonie said...

Wow - I wouldn't have tolerated some dance instructor telling me that normal FAMILY behavior is "boring". Sounds to me like a different dance school might be a better fit, if there are other options in the area. That sort of thing drives me crazy tho, so maybe I'm just an old Meanie. ;-)

I think you did the right thing, and their comments were both uncalled for and rude. My two cents, not that it'll get you the recital gear. heh heh

Jen@Scrapingirl said...

You did the right thing. My daughter was 5 when she took dance class, and she was totally pooped out when the day was done. She did want to take a break, but only til she got to class, then she forgot how much fun it was. Luckily, ours was through the rec center and it was cheap, but I still wanted her to finish. The practices were only an hour, and they didn't even practice til the night before the performance. And that was only an hour or so.

I can't believe those teachers!! The nerve of them trying to convince someone to do more. If it's not fun to the child, let them go. She may be ready when she's older, and maybe she won't. It's important to introduse them to new things, not force it down their throats.

Nancy said...

I experienced the same attitude when my daughter took dance class. She was 4 years old. She is 21 now. I'm sorry to hear that things haven't changed much. Except the cost has increased!

In my opinion, you definitely did the right thing.

Turning the Clock Back said...

I HATED the competition portion of everything I took as a child and there was no option of skipping it. So I did one year of all sorts of things...ballet, gymnastics...then they made me compete and it took all the fun out of it. Then I found horseback riding in highschool. COmpetitions optional. Rode for 4 years and loved every minute of it. There ARE things out there that dont require competition...keep looking!

Ellen said...

I'm sorry for you, Angela. I'm sure you feel a weight lifted from your shoulders - don't at all feel guilty. Your daughter finds dance enjoyable & magical & fun at this age. Don't let other people (whether rude or even the well-intentioned) put pressure on you - you did what was right for you and your kids.

Janet and Maya said...

Wow, do you go to the same dance studio as we do? What is up with this? They are little kids, sheesh!

Even though Maya loves dance, we opted out of her recital (similar costs and the makeup requirements really sealed the deal - makeup on a four year old for a local really small town show, come on! Craaaaazy!).

Don't let the guilt get to you - what you have is called common sense.

If people think it's the right thing for their child and they have the disposable income to pay for recitals like this - go for it. We think there is a better use for our money and don't think it's a good experience.

Can you imagine spending all the time and money and then having your child experience stage fright? You would have to be a saint not to want to push her out to perform and that's not the mom I want to be.

Can you tell you struck a nerve with me?

There needs to be a program for dance studio staff that involves "Gaining Perspective and Common Sense" One of the components could include "Learning to Communicate Politely and Respectfully with Parents" Okay, now I'm going too far. Step away from the keyboard ;)

EllieB said...

I'm glad you listened to your child. My sister's girls were involved with just about everything their school offered and they got burnt out. She told them it was up to them. The dropped a couple things and are now happy. They are still doing stuff buy it is ones that make them happy.

SueZH said...

My daughter opted out of the rectals when she was a teenager. She loved dance but hated the rectals. I sure didn't mind saving the $$$. Unfortunately, her teachers did not like her decision either. My daughter chose to spend extra time with softball.

Mary said...

I think you did the right thing also. I really think dance should be fun and an enjoyable form of expression. My daughter enjoyed it, even through some pretty relaxed recitals she had, but by the time she was 9 she had moved to an age range where a degree of seriousness is expected (I know that seems silly). She arrived for a recital practice wearing the wrong colored leotard and the director yelled at her because of this. The practice sessions lasted for hours. She brought books along to read, but she really hated it. After this one recital, she dropped dance altogether and didn't miss it. She would have rather played in the woods and explore nature, which she did. Kids need time to breath out, hang out, and explore the world around them (ramble in the woods, check out bugs, appreciate a bird song, listen to a story). They really don't need to be so busy all the time.

Margaret said...

I think it is dumb that they would say things like that to you. It is your child and she too wanted a break. She is so young that there is nothing wrong with taking a break and letting her play outside.

liz said...

Good for you! You did the right thing! And shame on her instructors for speaking to you that way.


liz said...

Oh, and I wanted to say that I LOVE the photo of her feet on your heels. :)

B said...

I'd suggest you consider looking around for another dance school. Anyone that puts that kind of pressue and guilt on you isn't worth it.

I feel so lucky to have found a small school that we love! The recital is only a little over an hour long, the owner goes out of her way to find photographers and such that don't give kickbacks to keep our costs down, she doesn't mark up the costumes for a profit. She truely cares about the girls. On top of that she is an amazing dancer with quite a resume behind her!

Janet said...

I think you totally did the right thing. Kids need to be kids! 4 hours waiting around is crazy for anyone, but especially a child. And $400??? Nuts.

Play outside!

Noelle said...

I'm so sorry for this negative experience. There are studios that do not focus on recitals and if you can find one in your area it might pose an interesting alternative.
My 4 year old takes "creative movement" at a modern dance studio and they do have a "recital" (often called concerts in the world of modern dance). We pay for tickets to the show, but other than that the costumes and other performance aspects are kept at a reasonable cost. Last year my daughter wore black pants and a solid colored top as did all dancers in her class. Perhaps you can find a studio that is a better fit.

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