I vowed a long time ago that I was done with dance recitals. DONE! The long, drawn-out productions, the milestone trophies doled out during intermission, the Broadway finale that never varied from year to year… DONE!
Yeah, yeah, so I make it sound like I was all way too cool for school back then. I wasn’t. The recital was a Big Deal from the ages of 8-17. I cajoled everyone into coming… my parents, my grandparents, and, as I got older, even friends came to show their support. But once I went to college and took Serious Dance, recitals suddenly had a very babyish cast to them. I vowed I would only dance in very professional sorts of productions from then on out. And then I quit dancing altogether for a good decade or so there, so it was kind of a moot point.
Fear of The Recital played a role in my dance hiatus. I was no longer a teenager and I knew what happened once you were Old (“Old” in the dance studio world being any age >21)… oh yes. You were stuck in the cutesy old lady numbers. Believe me, I’d seen enough cutesy old lady numbers in all those years of recitals to be well versed in them. They usually involved some sort of spangled sailor dress, some incredibly simple choreography incorporating liberal use of jazz hands, and a bunch of people in the audience cooing at how cute it all was. I was NOT ready to go down that road, thankyouverymuch!!!
So fast forward to a couple months ago when I was approached during rehearsal for the ballet company and asked if I was planning to be in the annual recital. Oh, no… I stammered. That’s okay! Really! “Well, but, the director put you on the list.” Oh… um… okay, well, sure, I guess so. I mean, do I have a choice? And anyway, what, I can just show up, do my ditty, and boogie out of there. Maybe I can get away without anyone even knowing I’m in it!
But then… something happened over the ensuing months. I actually got a little, well, excited! I began to think, hm, maybe all recitals aren’t the same. Maybe some are actually… entertaining! You see, the studio where I take ballet doesn’t do recital themes like, say, “Dancin’ 2011!!!” No, they do a show. Kinda like a ballet, but with the other kinds of dance they teach, too. And the adult classes? They get actual choreography to perform!
I watched all the preparations in the studio. The backdrops. The props. The costumes. The extra rehearsals. This was good stuff! I began slowly leaking word to my family and friends. And then I slowly began hoping people would actually come see me perform.
Then the day came… my day in Wonderland. I was there when the curtain went up as Alice came into the park with her (very adorable) kitten and wandered amongst us park people who were alternately having a picnic, playing croquet, playing cards, stealing tarts, catching butterflies, carrying around a bunny, or (in my case) gossiping in the corner about all of these activities. Which then transitioned into the opening ballet number performed by the teen/adult class. In the second act I reappeared with the all adult ballet class as part of the Queen of Hearts’ court. We did a brief stint after the Queen discovers Alice to some rather severe Romeo & Juliet music, then came back on shortly thereafter for the croquet match, and then finally returned to do our full dance, after which we got to sit upstage and watch the jesters and the tart theft and finally the trial. Then we all got to chase Alice around the stage before she woke up on the park bench with her kitten nuzzling her shoulder. After that we all returned to stage to some sweet Earth Wind and Fire (Boogie Wonderland, duh!) while confetti rained down on the entire school.
Through it all I observed the amazing creativity of our teachers as they managed to take a vast variety of dance styles and brought them into a cohesive show: a little boys’ tap class performed as the hedgehogs in the croquet match to the Hamster Dance song, an acro class became jesters, and the adult jazz class became the jurors dancing to “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I saw the incredible amount of work that went into the detailed backdrops and elaborate costumes. I watched the tiniest tots struggle with their role of teacups, desperately wanting to look behind them at the Mad Hatter and his (well, her) tea party going on upstage. I watched the elementary-aged kids eye the older kids and dream that one day they’d be able to do the more advanced steps and be cast in leads. I watched the older kids embrace their roles and excel. It really was a privilege to be part of all of it.
So, I don’t know if maybe I was just jaded before or maybe the studio I attend really is something extra-special. But I guess I have to admit it. Recitals aren’t really all that bad after all. 🙂