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3:16 p.m. - June 08, 2005
Everybody Dance Now! A Long Day's Journey Into Recital
As you may have read earlier, Katie is taking dance classes. Of course, each dance school MUST, MUST have a recital, and hers is no different. One of the first essays I posted was about my experience in gathering the tickets for the recital and for a special rehearsal for the recital, and let me tell you what, based on what happened that day, the forecast was for wackiness ensuing on the day of the recital.

The recital was on Sunday, but let’s back up to Saturday night. I had a function at work and was out of the house most of the day. But out of the blue, Hoosier Niece comes by with her daughter Dru, Katie’s four-year old cousin. (Now, I’m not sure of the cousin protocol, if she is my great-niece, is that Katie’s second cousin, or first cousin once removed? Who numbers these things anyway? Anyway, she’s a cousin of some rank and serial number.) A three-year old and a four-year old couldn’t cause too much mayhem, right?

Well, when I got home it was past 9:00 – at least one hour after bedtime, and when I walked in I sensed Ostrogoths were on the way to Rome. Who knew two little kids could cause so much turmoil? Anyway, we didn’t get them settled down until after 10, and hoped for some peace and quiet. Promises of pancakes and a viewing of The Incredibles were offered in exchange for peace and quiet.

Bribery is legal in private households, right?

We were worried then that Katie would be OK for the recital with such a late bedtime. Little did we know that at 5:00 AM, at dawn’s first light, they waltzed into our bedroom, saying that it was time to get up and make breakfast. Ooof! We sent them back to Katie’s room, but the Vandals were soon sacking the city again – so at about 6:15 we were all awake, for good.

But after the pancakes, the TV viewing was put on hold due to some issues (known as excessive time outs, or the Chris Webber problem to you sports minded people) and we forced them to take naps, which Katie did for another couple of hours.

So going into the recital, Katie was running on about 2 to 2 ½ hours less sleep than normal, plus in addition she had to be at the auditorium a half-hour before the recital, which was right in the midst of her afternoon quiet time (to call it naptime would be akin to calling Vietnam a police action – technically it’s accurate, but let’s be honest about what it is, and quiet time could also be called a misnomer as well, frankly). This wasn’t a good recipe for anything but a disaster, I feared.

Dressed in her costume and ready to go, and Dru safely back at her home, Katie trundled off to the recital with Liz. I drove separately (we need two cars to be flexible just in case something wonderful happens, and it will soon), carrying the video camera and the digital camera, ready to record the event for posterity.

The recital was held at the local high school, and when I arrived 20 minutes before the start of the recital, there was hardly any parking in the lots, much to my surprise. Well, I guess there was a reason to get tickets early, I thought. But it hit me – this is the third of three performances! That’s a lot of people seeing their kids dance over those three days. Now some dances were repeated, but still that’s a lot of dancing and some parents, no doubt, were there every night!

I went inside the school building. Being proactive I got the video camera out. The batteries were freshly charged and there was a new tape in there. I was sure not going to miss Katie’s performance. I turned on the camera, and opened the screen to see if everything was working right.

All I got was a black screen in the view finder. Hmmm…I don’t remember this. I pushed the menu buttons, went through all the combinations I could think of to do.

Nothing. Just blackness. How black was the screen? None more black, to borrow a phrase.

I hadn’t used this camera in about 2 ½ years, and with something else wonderful going to happen soon and this event happening now I needed a working video camera. With all the money we’ve been spending I did NOT want to spring for another video camera. I went into panic mode – push this button, see what this does. Push that – push them all. Argh!

Nothing. I resigned myself to going inside and telling Liz. She grabbed the camera and did exactly what I did. Of course, I was back-seat driving – saying what I had done or not done. That helped the mood, yep.

Nothing. It looks like that somehow, someway; the cameras lens or something was broken since I last used it. How, why, I don’t know, but it did.

Oh, well – Brittany’s mom (still not her legal name) said there was a DVD available for purchase. Great. So at least we can have some record of this momentous occasion. But I was now nervous, of course, of the cost of a new camcorder. And I’ll have some digital camera shots.

Except….the owner of the school came out and made about 15 announcements and one of them said ‘no flash photography’. My digital camera doesn’t work well without a flash, and when I tried to focus on the stage it seemed that the camera was dosed with high-grade LSD – everything was swirly and weird looking since the lighting up on stage was funky. So no digital shots. Sigh. (At least we have some other shots we took and some professional shots that we sprung for.)

Then the recital started – there were three acts of about 15 dances each, plus the final act was the ballet. Fortunately, the little kids only have to go through two acts, and the parents can then grab them and take them home. But that was still a lot of dances to sit through.

The first act were the littlest ones, 2 year olds and under. Basically, it was three of the leaders of the dance studio leading these kids into some movements. One little girl just bawled the whole time – didn’t dance a lick. But it was cute and over soon.

But what shocked me, and it continued through the entire day, was that between acts the parents in the audience shouted encouragement to their kids, like “Go, Kayleigh!” “Go, Brandee!”, “Go get ‘em Ashley!” “Woooo!”

Great, I’m amongst people who go “Woooo!” at the drop of a hat. My IQ just dropped 10 points.

Besides, I don’t know what that does. It’s like you’re shouting at your kids – and the small ones may not pick up that it’s encouragement – plus if you’re sitting next someone who is screaming these things out it’s more than annoying. Some of these kids were in four or five dances – would you want someone in your ear every five minutes?

After four or five routines, featuring kids from ages 3 to 18, Katie’s troupe was on. She was front and center. Mind you, I’m not biased in any way, shape or form, but she was the cutest one there – and one of the best dancers. She was right on form, just a little bit early or late, and kept up with all of the others. And she’s the youngest one in there, since the rest of the group was 3 ½, at least, by the time Katie started in January, when she was barely three.

Whew! I was relieved that she didn’t cry, and she did great. The rest of the first act flew by – the finale was all of the wee little ones again, then it was intermission.

Of course, that means time to buy all kinds of stuff – a t-shirt (no, don’t need one), souvenir bracelets, snacks, etc. Oh, and the DVD. We signed up for it. When she becomes famous one day you’ll find it on eBay, for sure. I’ll sign them, if you want, right now! They can only increase in value!

Act two started, and it all went smoothly, even though they played a little snippet of “Turning Japanese” for some of the high schoolers to dance to (it was a medley of songs that mentioned names of countries). That song is old enough, and the vernacular dated enough, that I don’t know if these kids know what that song REALLY meant. But I laughed like a 15-year old boy for them! And I am again. Heeeee!

Oh, and those parents who went “Wooooo!” continued to “Wooooo! Kayleigh!” all the dang time between dances. I’d like to tell them to go “Woooo!” themselves somewhere anatomically impossible….

Katie’s second dance had a combination of two of the younger classes, and there was a little more movement to this one. Katie was a little ahead or behind on this one, and seemed to always forget or refuse to do one hand gesture. It seemed like she was saying “my contract says that I am not supposed to move my hand like a sunset, I must go right from the rainbow to the shooting star, otherwise I’m gonna walk and they’ll be big trouble!” But she got through it great and was charming and all.

There were about 20 kids on the stage, so they did the song twice so everyone could be in the front row. Gotta keep the Mom’s happy.

After that I looked at my watch. It was past four. Great. We’ve been here two hours and still have over ½ of an act to go. If my child was in all three acts, plus the ballet, I’d be thinking of ordering a pizza for delivery! That’s a long day of being a spectator at anything, much less dancing. I really wonder how many parents went to all three days.

And so it went – dancing, more dancing, and more dancing. Some were good, some were cute, some were good and cute. Most of the kids were really good for their age and seemed to enjoy themselves, and that’s all that matters, I suppose.

The end of Act 2 was nigh, and all the little kids danced to “See You Later Alligator”. It was cute – Katie danced as a pair with another girl who was probably 4 and had another year of dance under her belt – but she did fine. And she again was the cutest one out there. And of course I’m not biased!

After that, Liz went backstage and fetched Katie. I went to the lobby and saw the Flack and his family – his daughter was in the ballet. I said I was sorry I wasn’t staying for the ballet – and he laughed because he understood. Katie and Liz soon appeared – Katie gave me a hug and then made a beeline for the snacks that were for sale.

There were animal crackers. My hug was truncated for animal crackers. Sigh! It’s not easy being a Dad.

I soon scooped her up again, and told her I was proud of her and she did a great job! But did she offer me an animal cracker? Noooooo! Not even a walrus!

Oh, well.

After a long day of dancing, we all headed home. On my way out, I noticed that all of the spaces were taken and people were parking on the school lawn! All I could think of was that I was in the wrong business. If I could just grab the parking concession at dance recitals everywhere, I’d make a mint!

So we survived, and thrived, dance recital day. Well, except for the lack of a working video camera. And no digital shots. (But the DVD will be coming soon!) Katie had fun, was confident on stage, and did well, and what else do you want from an activity like dance class?

(Well, a working video camera would be nice. Hi-8 please, because the other tapes I actually did record before the recorder went in deep storage are Hi-8.)


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