I am about 10 seconds away from being a dance mom. I watch the show and think – I really could be those women. For serious.
We laugh and call them psycho, but no joke, I hover close to that. I think there is an inner dance mom in all of us, no matter how laissez faire we may present as.
My 8 year old daughter takes ballet. She started when she was three years old and has loved it ever since. It is not uncommon to see her dancing around the house putting on shows or asking me to film her. She has consistently attended the same ballet school. At this particular school, ballet is the only discipline offered, save for character and stretching, and the students attend no competitions. They do yearly exams and perform in the Nutcracker at Christmas and an end of the year recital.
While I consider her ballet education first rate (the teachers are former ballerinas), there are a few things that have been slowly getting on my nerves.
1. The class sizes. Every time I look around there is a new girl. At one point, the size of the class was 27. Twenty-seven. 27. That is not cool.
2. They accept anyone despite saying that they have auditions and place people according to ability. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a girl who wandered in off the street and can’t point her toes in a class with kids who have been taking ballet seriously for years. It isn’t fair to the new kid, it isn’t fair to the girls who have been doing it forever and it isn’t fair to the teacher.
3. There is no individual attention. See points 1 and 2.
4. Nutcracker rehearsals start in mid-October and go until the show. Then there is a three week holiday break. There are almost no classes during that time. That’s right – no ballet classes in a ballet studio. Essentially, I pay for my kid to rehearse.
5. To add to that, my daughter was in a dance separate from her class this year. While her class rehearsed she watched. She did her rehearsing on Sundays, the days designated for rehearsals. I paid for her to sit on a bench.
6. My daughter has been told to get pointe shoes since she was 7 years old. Forgive me for not believing in the” assessment”, when the girls just off the street have also apparently attained the necessary technique and leg strength for pointe shoes.
The giant class sizes, the lack of instruction, limited to no individual attention, putting super young kids and/or kids with no experience on pointe, and the lack of appropriate levels has me pissed off.
My daughter loves to dance. I, however, cannot take the constant stress this is causing me or her upset at the large class sizes, no individual attention, new girls all the time and lack of instruction.
Today I went in to see the administrator with another mom, a woman who is a friend of mine and whose daughter has been dancing with mine for years. We came armed with a chart on the classes missed due to (lack of) rehearsal and the fact that we planned to come to an extra two classes a week until the end of February to make it up.. The administrator was NOT happy with us. Essentially, he suggested that we pay for the rehearsals. What the? Apparently we were supposed to have known that part of our tuition was for rehearsals despite there being no precedent from the previous years. No one raised their voice but we were told that “if we need to part ways due to lack of agreement, our money would be refunded”. What the? I say again.
I am hoping that tomorrow cooler heads will will prevail and we can move forward for the rest of the year. Or move on. I need to decide whether to accept no make ups or to leave with a refund. Ideally, I will get what I want, and that is the make ups.
Where I differ from the dance moms on TV is that I like to think I walk the walk. I have taken my daughter to two different ballet schools (same style) to try out classes in various levels. In the end she chose the one she liked the best and that is where I will take her next year.
For now. I wait until tomorrow.