… and okay. A ten-second curtain call.
(I’ve been meaning to write about Sam’s ballet recital for the last two weeks, but if you read my second to the last post, you’ll see I’ve been quite preoccupied! Without further ado, here it is.)
The production. The one we didn’t expect to cost so much that we fell off our rockers… remember that one? It finally happened. And it was quite the experience! In all fairness my expectations were off from the get-go. I was coming from a very low-key previous ballet experience and no one told me otherwise. I didn’t think to ask either.
First of all, it’s a very serious ballet school. I’ve been sending Sam there for over seven months and I only realized days before the recital that they’re really one of the top programs in the country. They offer full year scholarships to less fortunate children; And these kids train and join contests internationally — and they win! So for such a school, it’s natural to put up a totally serious ballet recital production. But still, I’m a stubborn creature.
Sam’s age group was the youngest and they had one dance in one of three acts, so I really didn’t think much of it. I figured it would be very low-key, and since they’re young, theirs wouldn’t be too serious. So here I was taking it easy.
Then it hit me like a bus.
First, Sam insisted on every practice date that she get the maximum number of stamps, and that meant she had to be on time. Granted the unpredictable traffic situation of this country, we were constantly scrambling to get her there for that one precious extra stamp (you thought we were missing a flight).
Then they added rehearsal schedules which lasted longer hours into the afternoon. When I was handed the schedule, I stopped in my tracks. I hadn’t planned for this. She and Jamie had other summer activities that culminated at about the same time. It took a great amount of maneuvering skills to work around this schedule, the traffic (!!), and the coordination, so that she could be at each extended dance rehearsal (on time for the stamps, don’t forget).
I really couldn’t imagine Sam dancing ballet for 3 hours each day, and one practice I asked and the teacher. She said it was actually 15 minutes of blocking and then a 90 minute break, before they did the entire run again. By this time, I’d made a couple of mom friends, and we agreed to take our girls out for pizza in their 90-min break. We didn’t expect not to be allowed, and the girls had to stay in their line formation for the entire 90 minutes. In Sam’s teacher’s defense, if she allowed one of her 100 students, she’d have to allow the others and they’d never get everyone back in time (but still, I’m a parent of one). And if Sam wanted to eat, she had to be fed there.
I felt it was too much to expect from my 4-yr old Sam and her friends, but I’d been told that’s how they’ve been doing it for the last few years. I could see Sam was quite intimidated too, and I’m sure she fed off my stress. When she’d see me in the waiting room, she’d beckon to me and ask me to stay and sit with her, so I found myself on the floor in her formation line, surrounded by other ballerinas with Sam snuggly on my lap eating her chicken nuggets. We were days away from the actual recital, and quitting is never an option (plus, we’d invested so much already!).
Then, the day-before rehearsal production came. The recital was slated to show in one of the country’s most respectable theatres. They were also dealing with about 200+ students, so they had to be quite strict about the entire procedure. The schedule was from 2-9pm, which involved a dry run and then a full costume run, inclusive of make-up and hairspray, and only one companion per child would be allowed to go in.
I had so many questions because I hadn’t prepared properly for this.
Make-up?! What make-up?! Sam’s never worn make-up. I don’t even own make-up for me! Thankfully, my friend and fellow SoMom Jenny came to the rescue with her child-friendly make-up.
HAIRSPRAY?! I’ve never put chemicals on my child’s head. Yet all ballerinas have each strand tucked in its proper place. I had to look for the mildest hairspray I could find.
Companion? Apparently, each child is mandated to have a yaya backstage for security purposes. They’re not expecting the parents to be there since they’ll be watching in front. It never occurred to me to bring one of our yayas to practice, and I really don’t trust them alone with Sam, but I had to learn. Fast.
Parents weren’t allowed in the actual backstage area. At a certain point, we had to hand over our kids to the school’s staff and we’d only see them again after the run. I think I had worse separation anxiety than Sam, more so because I was worried about security. So many kids… mine is tiny and she can easily get lost. I don’t think I’d ever been so prayerful.
Sam was just overwhelmed by being around so many people and her teacher told me she kept asking for me. My brave little girl though was able to hold it together. Her only complaint was she couldn’t see me in the audience (we weren’t allowed in the main theatre either since it was just the rehearsal). I had to address this with a trust answer.
Thankfully, I had mom friends who’d done this the previous years. They didn’t seem fazed by the entire process. They walked me and the other newbie moms through it and we all made it alive to the day of the actual recital. Even the potty scenarios got much easier since I knew what to expect. It’s also a good thing I didn’t bring Jamie (with the one-companion rule I had no choice but to leave her at home — another adjustment I had to learn — and learn fast). On the day itself, Jamie loved the performance though; her seat was front and center.
Sam did great. She was all smiles and she remembered each step to the beat. She didn’t look for me in the audience, but I was sure to meet her backstage right after and I scooped her up. In the end we (the battalion of a family that came to watch with us) all had bouquets for her. Sam was over the moon. Her teacher also told me what a great ballerina she is, and that is music to the ears of a parent who just put everything into this one little dance number.
Sam and I both made some new friends. Her classmates and their moms bonded over the experience and we now try to get together to play. And these moms — we think alike! We parent alike. I feel at home when I’m around them. Something to look forward to for ballet practice.
The whole experience was stressful for me, I won’t deny it. I realize in hindsight it was because I wasn’t prepared. But now I’ve had weeks to recover, it’s not as harrowing as it seems, if we’re to do it again. I’m fairly sure we will… Sam is already counting the days to her “next” recital that, at her age level, will also probably still last 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
The theatre was pretty strict about taking personal videos (another stress point), so we have to wait for our pre-ordered DVD copy to show clips of the performance (my husband still doesn’t know about this additional investment we made!).