The year is 2017. I have attended my daughter’s dance studio’s version of “The Nutcracker” every year since 2013, some years more than once. It’s pretty miserable for 80 of the 90 minutes that I’m there. Not only that, it’s an effing ripoff.
I pay hundreds of dollars a month for dance classes, only to then have to pay another hundred bucks or so for a Nutcracker costume (which costs nothing like $100 for the owner of the studio). I then have to pay $12-15 for a ticket for each member of the family to come watch the performance. I then also have to pay for the DVD of the performance, which we will absolutely NEVER watch, and also pay for “professional” photos of the performance because video and still cameras are not permitted at any time.
In fact, the whole concept of the local dance studio is complete crap. If my daughter were attending the New York City Ballet’s school or even the Louisville Ballet School, maybe I could justify the expense. But since we live too far away from any professional ballet training schools, what I’m actually paying for is extremely subpar teaching from a bunch of never-weres.
But, wait, there’s more!
My daughter is currently in the “Lower School.” Next year, she gets to move to the “Upper School,” so I get to pay a whoooooole lot more. And instead of just doing one or two dances per recital, now she’ll probably do five or six, which means I get to pay for even more costumes. One poor father I know, who has three daughters in this studio, had to buy eighteen costumes for the last recital, all at over $100 apiece. Fuck that noise.
So, yeah, as I took my seat for the Nutcracker yesterday, I was not feeling super positive about the experience. Then I got to watch the entire sixty-minute first act, in which my daughter did not even appear, and my son is squirming about in his seat like he has the world’s worst case of hemorrhoids. Of course I have to take him to the bathroom at intermission, and of course there’s a huge line, and he’s complaining about “why did I have to wear my nice shoes” and I just want to kill everybody in the building.
And then the curtain raises for the first act, and there’s my gorgeous, perfect daughter in her angel costume. She’s smiling so big it has to be hurting her face, but it’s not because she is loving every precious second that she’s on the stage. She’s moving elegantly and gracefully to the Tchaikovsky suite, precisely in time to the music. She’s not just crawling around on the stage like she did as one of the Rat King’s mouse cohorts in 2013, or stirring a bowl full of air as she did as a gingerbread baker in 2014, or sitting around the Christmas tree as a party girl in 2015.
She’s really dancing. For those five minutes that she’s on stage, she’s a radiant, confident, star. She’s happy.
Fuck it. Take all my money, local dance studio proprietor. It’s worth it.