Sunday, May 31, 2015

Recital seasoned

Sometimes you get to dance like everyone is watching. And if you're lucky, they'll like you enough to ask you to dance even more.

We're coming up on Earbaby's last recital of the school year. Between the two of us, there will have been four showcases in all, but she wins the prize because she did two shows in her recital with her original school and there were five dances each show. Ten dances in a five-hour time period is a lot, but she was more than equal to the task. And the upcoming show in her newest studio is much less heavy lifting -- one ballet and one hip hop number in one show.

But she has been noticed in studio number two.

Last year at this time she was done with her second studio and glad to be rid of it. That school was geared to hip hop, which she loves, but she didn't like all the detritus that came with it: Teachers who were less than professional in dealing with the students, blatant favortism and a real lack of awareness of the bullying that was going on. Although she was featured in one of her three performances last year, she left with a bad taste in her mouth, even as she contemplated (and then rejected) a late invitation to audition for the crew going to Las Vegas.

After a tough week working at her new studio last summer, EB took on the one thing she whined, wailed, and complained about -- ballet class twice a week. She is the oldest in her class and was read the riot act the first day when she showed up late with her hair not properly pulled back and other problems her ballet mistress found. She was beside herself and she struggled mightily. But you know what? She now loves ballet, loves the discipline, adores the teacher and has improved by leaps and bounds, so much so that she was getting compliments from her teacher at her original studio. So this year of dance is already ending on a higher note than last year's.

Adding to that was the little bump in confidence when the studio owner asked her to take a class with the company class group in her age range. She's looking for more good dancers and would like to see EB audition. EB loved the workout and the class, but is still a little shy about auditioning for the company. And she is worried about next year's school load. I've assured her we can figure it all out.

But EB in the meantime has more dance in her future. She auditioned (after a little nudge from her dad and me) and got into a monthlong summer dance program at one of the local universities. It's almost five weeks of workshops, master classes, all types of dance, and then a tour of camps throughout the city, where they perform and conduct dance workshops. It's going to be a lot of hard work. I told EB that this is her summer to try and decide if she wants to pursue dance for a living. She expressed interest in the past, but now is worried she won't be able to make a living at it. And let's face it, there are plenty of people who are waiting tables while they pursue a dream of working in entertainment, whether it be acting, dancing, or singing, or some combination.

She also says she wants to go into psychology. I've told her to start looking for schools that have strong programs in both. She has plenty of time to decide what she wants to do when she grows up, and we've told her we'll support her study in her endeavors. Hence the summer dance program, instead of telling her to get a job.

That in itself was an interesting decision for my husband and I. When I was in high school, we used our summer to take extra classes and it made senior year a lot less stressful. I learned to type in summer school, took history class, and some of my friends took drivers' ed, back when that was taught in the schools. Now summer school is exclusively for those who failed a class instead of a chance to get a little ahead. I never got a summer job until I was out of high school and college bound. But my husband always worked in the summers, so he always had a little of his own money in his pocket. I respected that upbringing, so I told him if he wanted her to work, I would support that.

But we heard about the dance program and both decided EB will have the rest of her life to work, and this summer should be about doing something that she loves. Granted, she also loves money too, and should learn how to earn it consistently. But she'll work hard, have to be accountable and responsible, and will get a real taste of what a commitment is. There are no absences, tardiness, or excuses allowed in this program. She'll get her work experiences all right.

After this week, she'll get a bit of a break. No more dance classes until July, but she will have to buckle down for the rest of the school year. She'll have her time to sleep in and then hang out with her friends on the weekends. And then, when the last final is in, the last paper written and the locker cleaned out, she'll start her summer of dance.

Earbaby, to quote Lee Ann Womack "When you get the choice to sit it out or dance ... I hope you dance."

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