Mare had her first-ever dance recital this weekend. The best part was her excitement beforehand and watching her bask in the glow afterwards. She lucked out and had the cutest costume – pics to come soon. They danced to “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Miley Cyrus and did a great job, especially if you don’t consider knowing the steps to be all that important. I was so thrilled for her!
Mare and Bird attend different studios. Bird’s studio only offers ballet/tap until the girls are 11 or so. It’s tag line is “Where technique counts”. Mare started out there as well, but did not like ballet/tap and so quit dance for a year. Then Mare started bugging me to take a jazz class and so I decided to sign her up at a different studio that lets the girls choose from many different dance styles and is, obviously, more relaxed. At Bird’s studio, all girls MUST where a black leotard and pink tights with hair pulled back. Tight. The girls are not allowed to leave the studio without a coverup; they are adament about the coverup. At Mare’s studio, you can where whatever the heck you want and where it all day if you want.
Watching Mare’s recital was tough on Bird. She was supposed to be in her dance recital next weekend, but we pulled her a couple weeks ago. This was the first year Bird had Ms. Karen, a gifted older dancer who has been in the industry for quite a while. She was, quite literally, bullying Bird. Ms. Karen likes to use the disciplinary technique of public humiliation to keep her dancers motivated. I witnessed this about two months ago during a parent viewing class. I thought it took a lot of balls for Ms. Karen to be so hateful to my daughter while I was sitting right there. We left the class with Bird in tears and me close to it but we decided to stick it out since Bird wanted to do the recital she had been preparing so hard for and at that point there was only a month and a half of class left. A couple weeks later, John picked Bird up from class and heard the witch first hand. He drove home with Bird sobbing in the backseat due to all the petty things Ms. Karen had picked on her about (most my fault – she didn’t have a coverup with her, we had her costume at home instead of safely at the studio, she didn’t do some step or another perfectly right.) He stomped in the house and demanded her recital costume so he could take it back to the studio and get our money back. Terrified, but knowing that this was the right thing to do, I reminded him to get our ticket money back for the recital…
John came home a half hour later with the $260 check I had written earlier that week paying for the dance classes for the past three months, plus class tickets and the last bit we had owed for the costume. They hadn’t deposited it yet and just wanted him out of there since he wasn’t subtle about his (justified) displeasure. Yeah, that bridge was burned.
At Mare’s recital, Bird sat intently watching the dancers. Afterwards, as we drove to Red Robin’s for a celebratory dinner and I talked to Mare about dancing this summer and what she might want to take next fall, Bird said that she wanted to take a summer dancing class as well. Later that night, Bird and I talked about how sad she was that she wasn’t doing her recital. She asked about doing a summer camp at her studio – she had done it last year and loved it. I told her no, we can’t go back to that studio unless Ms. Karen is gone and maybe not ever as the bridge was pretty crispy. Truly, the only reason she wanted to go to that camp was because they held a little recital at the end and last year Bird got to have the main part. I told her we would call her new studio (Mare’s current) and she could take one of their camps this summer.
The whole thing is heartbreaking for me. What Ms. Karen does goes well beyond being a “tough” teacher – I have talked to enough parents to know that many people have left the studio because of her. I’m sad because I love the focus of the studio. I loved how the owner taught when Bird had her last year. I love the atmosphere and classrooms. But I’m sure Bird will be happier at her new studio. Much happier.