Monday, June 01, 2009

Summer's here, ballet's done.

We just finished ballet season. What this means in practical terms is no more rush to get the kid to practice on Thursdays — or pick her up from practice — and no more mornings spent scrambling to make sure that one of the pairs of tights and one of the pink leotards is clean. For the past few weeks, this has also meant a great deal of time spent at the ballet studio.

First, there were the pictures. While they happened on Buttercup Mére's weekend, I made a point of running down to the studio to catch the kid in her costume for the first time. There's nothing quite like the pride on her face when she gets to put the costume on and show it off. The fact that we got to keep the costume this year was an added bonus. I envision many moments of costume-wearing, and would not be at all surprised to see her make it the choice for Halloween this year. In fact, saving the money wouldn't be a bad thing at all...

Then, there were two Saturday rehearsals.The first locked up two hours, the second four hours. Having done theater for years in high school and college, these extra rehearsals didn't surprise me. We worked around them, and I used them as time to run errands. One even provided a rare opportunity for lunch at Can Can — the roast chicken salad with asparagus and Meyer lemons is phenomenal.

All of this was — in theory — a lead-up to the final weekend of performances. Said weekend began with dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsal was originally scheduled to begin at 3:00, school schedules be damned, but the theater bumped the time to 4:00 the day before. The kids converged, got made up, and all the rest. In the interest of juggling life matters, I stopped at the theater briefly after work to check on Buttercup's status and then left for a little over an hour. When I got back, they were just wrapping up, and Buttercup got changed. They'd been there for almost four hours, and all of the kids older than seven were heading for the dress rehearsal black hole. We went home — it was one of my rare times to put my foot down in spite of Buttercup's begging to stay and watch. Our neighbors were having a porch party, and I knew the next day would be long.

The next day began with the run to farmers market mentioned below. After a brief stop at home to chill out and get changed, we were back at the theater by 11:10, a few minutes ahead of the call so one of the moms could help Buttercup with her makeup and hair. (This is one of Mr. Mom's failings.) After lingering until I realized that a dad's presence was no longer acceptable in the dressing room, I decided to run home and bring back food for her. She'd need the extra strength for two performances that afternoon — or so I thought.

I picked up my ticket and touched base with Buttercup Mére who'd decided to come to the first of the two shows. Then I settled in to capture the magic. Now, kids' ballet performances are an even mix of cute and painful, and this one was no exception. There were plenty of cute and awkward moments. There were pauses at odd moments. The usual thing. They had ballet and tap and hip-hop and song-and-dance routines. They even had a little dance party scene to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and an adorable moment of a five-year old singing along to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." And then there was Buttercup's class, out for their adorable performance as dancing toys. All two and a half minutes of it. That's it. That and a walk-through as part of a later bit of stage business, and some adorable bouncing around as everyone sang the name song during the curtain call. But in the end... it was two-and-a-half minutes, and I will not deny feeling like two years of these classes should have gotten Buttercup and her classmates a second appearance, a real dance, anything. In fact, I was half-embarrassed to sit through the second show next to my father as he kept waiting for them to have another shot at the lights so he could get a better picture.

Ultimately, I know there will be more opportunities next year. The six and seven year-olds will be seven and eight year-olds, with more coordination and better abilities. There might be a tap routine since her teacher made a point of telling me how quickly she was picking up on the steps. Hell, if I let Buttercup add a hip-hop class, she might even get to do one of the "really cool" routines. And that's all well-and-good, but I can't help feeling like I just paid $100 per half-minute of performance.

That said, I guess you could say it all paled when you saw her face wearing that costume, and her eyes when she carried the two bouquets of flowers. I guess you could say when her eyes twinkled that every cent and every second was worth it.