The Dance Recital: a rite of passage for so many girls. You get a sparkly costume, fancy makeup, and the audience claps when you get on stage; it’s a little slice of being a princess.
I danced for 14 seasons when I was a kid and I remember a lot of it. From my very first tapping for tots class (that ended in the green leotard with the big ruffly tutu), to the horrible white and silver outfit that went with the song “I Feel The Earth Move” (and involved my 12-year-old self moving parts of myself that didn’t want to move that way), to the classic tap dance to “New York New York” in a leotard with tails, dancing was a big part of my life. But no year was bigger than the last year, when I was 14.
The summer before my freshman year I’d started working out with a friend who was going out for JV sports. In the three months I dropped all the baby fat and gained a few inches, so that when I showed up back at the dance studio several people did double-takes. What a boost to my self-concious teen self! I was signed up for tap and jazz, which was already chaotic to balance with the schedule for my first year of high school. Then, my jazz class ended up only having three people in it, so the studio asked if we wanted to stay a trio and take a dance to competition, and take another class with older girls that would also perform. Bam! Another hour to be at the studio and my mother, who drove me back and forth, almost cried. It was hard, and messy, and I ate a lot of hot pockets for dinner in the car, and for a while it was worth it. But the advanced jazz class really was advanced, and called for some moves that I had a lot of trouble with. I fell on my knee several times doing splits, and would get big purple bruises. By the time spring rolled around I’d found high school drama club that met right after school and didn’t involve spits, and then it wasn’t worth it any more. That was my last recital, and I’ve never looked back.
Which brings me to last night. It was the dress rehearsal of the recital for the studio where my friend Rachel works. I walked into the auditorium and it was full of moms with garment bags, dads with cameras and tripods, and little girls running around in sparkly outfits. I had a pang of homesickness for my former self as I watched them scurry around in bows and tights and too much red lipstick. “I know those steps! I could do that!” But it only lasted for a second. And once it passed I was content to be an audience member – a good one – for these little girls busily going about their rite of passage.