Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We were so excited to start dance class. Okay. I was so excited for Stella to start dance class. Stella's just excited to dance around the living room, usually to the tinny tunes that bleat from one of our many battery-operated plastic keyboards. It's enough for her.
But mommy was on a mission to sprout a prima ballerina and signed her up for pre-ballet creative dance classes at the most affordable joint around. The day before her first class we scored great gear from a local consignment shop. The black slippers used to belong to a girl named Bria, as did about five other pairs of dance shoes in the basket we riffled through. Bria is a serious dancer, I gather.

Maybe one day Stella will be too. She's got the elegance, the grace, the moves and the passion for the dance. (I hear it like this: "dahnse.") I know, I know I'm the mother, totally subjective perspective here. But I'm so hypercritical of myself, the kids, the world, I would tell you. You KNOW I'd tell you if I thought she didn't have it in her. 

What happened is, I brought her to class and she hated it from the start. I nudged her to participate. "Ooh look, they're being elephants!" I crooned in her ear. But I wasn't feeling it. I hated it too. I'm not one to let my kid quit easily, but you can tell when the fit is all wrong. I guess this is where the hyper-criticalness comes in.

For one thing, the teacher was about twelve. I'm used to a "Hi nice to meet you, what's your name?" MO at the beginning of class, you know, where the teacher introduces herself to the students while practicing this cultural ritual called "eye contact." But it was nowhere to be found. And yes I have a narcissistic sense of entitlement, but we're talking monthly payments, recital costumes, tickets, MONEY. 

Class simply begun whether or not my kid participated, and the teacher never even looked our way, let alone make a move to engage my little swan. I saw dollar signs swirl down the toilet bowl of my mind. (Did I mention we need a new oven?) If the class turned out to be phenomenal, I could overlook this. But it was more like an after-school program with costumes. A blush-toned babysitting venture with Scott Baio kids' music that made you want to stick pencils in your eyes and head butt the linoleum floor. 

Stella and I sat on the sidelines for the duration while I documented the disappointment with the camera in my phone. She quipped for anyone to hear that the rest of the students weren't very good dancers. I shushed her but agreed. I whispered, "That's because they're two." And sneered at the wee ones who sucked their fingers and pulled at their garish tulle tutus, clouds of pastel froth that were obviously purchased for full price. I ached to ask the bleached out mom with the 80s nose job if anyone ever told her that her wee puff-ball (she'll be three in November) resembles Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

I could have sworn the class description was for ages three to five. What was with the underage crashers? Could their parents not add? Stella stood a head taller than the rest, but was far more timid and refused to even perform a single leap across a carpet square. I finally talked to the teacher and the owner who were happy not to charge me and invited us to come and sit in on any classes that seemed a better fit for as long as we liked. I respected that and thought about it during the five minutes it took us to get home.

In the end, the studio is no love match, and Stella hates the idea of taking classes at all, anywhere, until she's ten. That's her estimation. I say, maybe we'll try again in the spring when the memory of this rut in the road is but a wisp of satin ribbon. I'm not going to squander her talents but I also don't want to murder her passion. It's a tough call. We're going to keep the ballet clothes though. But you knew that. 


Anonymous said...

Creative moment/dance is what to do.
There is no ballet for 3 year olds.
Only fantasy.
Put on music and let the dance begin.
Yes I taught dance long ,long long time ago.

Angela said...

Come join Sam's gymnastics class at the Little Gym. He's the only boy, but loves it. The little girls wear tutu skirts and they all run around and the teacher is fabulous.

The Golden Papaya said...

Sorry the class wasn't what she expected. Good that you could get out of it, though. Maybe try another studio? Or not. I agree, the most important thing is that she continue to love to dance and feel good about it.

Elise Abrams Miller said...

thanks for the reassurance, GP. These activities you hear about needing to start early so your kids don't miss that mastery window, what a stress. so yeah. thank you.

Angela, maybe we'll see you and Sam!! thanks for the heads up.

kristi said...

that bottom photo is just priceless. and can i have a pair of tights that shade of pink? good grief. i love those.

i was laughing because of course your daughter would be critical--in a good way, because her momma is. and that's an excellent thing. i love it when my kids pick up on this kind of stuff on their own.

the philip seymour hoffman ref--icing on the cake. sweet.