Growing up we did not plan the summer until we knew the date of the dance recital. Recital week was intense, long and wonderful. It began with days of rehearsals on a wooden stage in a high school auditorium. It ended with dinner and milkshakes at a Darryl’s restaurant. There were years as a teenager when my mom and I wheeled in a rack of costumes. A rack. Pink and tan tights. Tap shoes. Pointe shoes. Headpieces. Tape for blistered feet. Sequins. False eyelashes. Makeup and hairspray stashed in a Caboodle. The recital of course was after a year of competition weekends, Nutcracker Christmases and classes at least four days a week.
That was dance. A past life. A life before leaving home and becoming an adult.
This weekend we carefully timed Charlotte’s nap, reviewed lengthy emailed instructions from the dance studio, charged the camera batteries, printed our tickets and packed a bag. I wrestled my squirmy three-year-old into new tights because she ruined the other pairs. I fluffed her tutu. I made a decent attempt at putting stage makeup on a child that kept rubbing her eyes and licking off her lipstick. We bought the DVD and had a bouquet of flowers ready.
I sat in an auditorium and watched my life come full circle. On either side of us were my parents. I mentioned to my dad that I was learning how expensive this hobby is. He laughed. He said, “You remember the recital when you had TWELVE costumes?!” It was fourteen. At least fourteen.
We watched the extraordinary dances of the teens with at least fourteen costumes and far more talent than I ever had. Then the prop volunteers brought a “house made of straw” a “house made of sticks” and a “house made of bricks” on to the stage. With a sweaty hand I grabbed my husband’s and swallowed hard. You could hear the collective “Aw!” of the crowd when they saw the tiniest dancers take the stage. When the lights came up you could see their pig ears and tales. The “Three Little Pigs” dance began. I grinned so hard my face hurt.
This group of tutued, highly distracted three-year-old’s mimicked their teacher standing off the side of the stage. They ran from house to house per the song’s lyrics. The most memorable bit of choreography was when they pointed to their chins for the line, “not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!” If only they could remember to do it. It was the cutest chaos I’d ever seen.
I was so proud I could barely breathe.
Will she do this for as many years as I did? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s okay. Today I sat with my parents and my husband and got to see my child’s first dance recital. That’s worth the price of fourteen-hundred costumes.