And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Dance Students or Pre-Adolescent Hoochie Mamas?

Yet another milestone today -- Katie's first dance recital. The first parental-attendance-required event of the many that I assume will take place over the next 21 or so years. This one was a doozy -- a four-hour series of performances by all the kids at the dance school. Of that four hours, Katie's class took up about 2.5 minutes, spread over one ballet song and one tap song. I won't even get started on the rant about the $17 tickets (after the $52 costume, $25 beige tap shoes -- because her black ones just wouldn't do -- and assorted other dance class costs). Whoops, maybe a little rant escaped just then.

Anyway, the dances Katie's class did were just as precious as one would expect, and Katie did very well, especially since she's the oldest in her class of 8. They wore costumes consisting of dark blue velvet leotards with pink netting puffy sleeves embroidered with roses on ribbon and pink tutus, with velvet overskirts. Absolutely adorable (even if every single costume was too small on its owner). They danced ballet to a song called "Final Dream," and tapped -- after a fashion -- to "I Won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan. When the lights came on for "I Won't Grow Up," the girls were all lying on their tummies, heads in their hands, kicking their feet. It was too cute.

Now, for the rest of the recital. Many of the numbers were fine, and more than a few of the competition teams were really quite good. The total time was far too long, of course, and Ian was really losing it, but I did enjoy the show. But the costumes on some of those girls!! And the dance routines! I am far from a prude, but I do have a thing about sexualizing pre-pubescent (heck, even pubescent) young girls. The Britney Spears look for little girls just rings all kind of alarm bells for me. Maybe it was all the Lolita analyzing I did in college. Even my beloved Target earned criticism from me for selling tops with fake bra straps in their size 4-7 section. I just don't think it's right. Still, I'm willing to let the market decide, and be happy with being able to control my own daughter's clothing choices myself, even if I shake my head over what passes for fashion these days.

But where does that parental authority come in when it comes to dance class? The costumes I objected to ranged from patent leather, zippered tunics for 8-year-olds to skintight rainbow-hued hot-pants body suits (what a friend called "booty shorts") with over-the-knee patent leather boots for 10- to 11-year-olds. Mesh shirts over tank tops with "schoolgirl" plaid miniskirts. Bandana tops, abdomens exposed. There were also quite a few "vamp" moves in the choreography (I'm being kind -- they could more accurately be called stripper moves, since all that was lacking seemed to be a pole). Not in my daughter's class, but in the next class or two up -- early elementary grade students. Lots of hands on hips, whip your butt back and forth with it facing the audience. Some rolling of the hips, in a bump-and-grind fashion. A bit of slithering on the floor, face down, a la Madonna.

And then there was makeup. Yes, I know this is a stage show. I did theater when I was a kid; I understand about that. But I feel uncomfortable putting makeup on my 5-year-old. I just don't think she's ready for that. Or maybe it's that I'm not ready for it. Whatever, I think the justification of "stage makeup" just doesn't quite cut it for a 2-minute dance recital performance. If they're washed out, so what? It's not like there are talent scouts in the audience or anything! They're 5 (or 4 or 3)!

All I know is, Katie's going to stick to ballet. Maybe tap, but definitely not "hip-hop" or jazz dance -- that's where all of the hoochiest outfits were. Give me a nice long-skirted tutu anyday. The Swan Lake performance was beautiful.

2 comment(s):

I hear ya. I'll be writing about the same thing in a few days.

By Blogger Moi, at 5:51 PM  

Great blog, and thanks for linking to me :-)

I agree with you on the costume/makeup/clothes thing. Lately I've been cringing as my daughter starts to wear 6x clothes, knowing the next step is the dreaded 7-14 department where everything suddenly looks way too sexy and grownup for me. Sigh.

By Blogger Linda, at 9:00 AM  

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