My God, If I Have To Go To One More Nutcracker

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.

27 Replies to “My God, If I Have To Go To One More Nutcracker”

  1. Dirty Dingus McGee

    It appears the child has you well trained already, O First National Bank of Dad. And it’s so easy to have it happen. In real life I’m a bit of a grumpy ole bastid, however various nieces, to some extent nephews, and the occasional female girl children of women I have dated/lived with, have ALWAYS managed to wrap me around their finger. Always with out me realizing it until I was already in their clutches. It’s a talent they are born with apparently.

    • Jeff Zekas

      Ballet and Taekwondo are the two parent money scams. And of course, once you’re hooked, it’s hard to say “no”, especially when seeing your kid break a board, or kick ass on another kid (in Taekwondo, not ballet).

      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

        I pulled my son out of TKD for just that reason. The price kept going up and he was basically standing in a room watching someone display tournament kicks.

        • Dave L

          I moved my son out of Kempo 4 years ago for similar reasons along with he never learned how to fight or defend himself. He’s been taking adult BJJ since then and has never looked back. I cannot recommend BJJ enough for younger kids enough and I/we wish we found it earlier.

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

            Funny you should mention that. I took Kempo from Jay T. Will back in the Eighties and experienced the same thing. Ended up moving to this weird white-trash kung-fu dojo where we sparred wearing winter gloves. That was a lot more helpful.

  2. John McClellan

    My daughter was slow and small, so team sports were not an option. The only activity she was remotely interested in was ice skating/ice dancing and horseback riding. She ended up competing nationally in ice dancing where the lessons and training were $1250/month, the outfits (1-3 per year) were $1000 each and there was extensive travel to regional and sectional events. After injuries took her out of skating, we were looking at a 13 year-old with potential abundant free time until college. We bit the bullet and started hunter/jumper horse competitions. You don’t want to know how much that cost. Despite the cost and sacrifice these sports entailed, I have never regretted what we spent on them. I am thankful, however, that she didn’t love horseback riding to the extent that she pressured us to keep the horse after she aged out of the junior levels of the sport.

  3. Jim

    When Dean Kamen was asked to comment on the usefulness of his “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST) competitions, he noted that while they may not have the allure of organized sports or the performance arts, it was likely that all those who did well in them would likely find highly compensated employment after completing their educations.

    I laughed then.

    BTW – Does anyone know where to find size 6 1/2 tap shoes in flat silver at 8:30 PM on a Friday? And how do I attach this sparkly lace to this shiny polyester fabric using only a $30 Chinese sewing machine and some glitter glue?

  4. Brawnychicken

    You are paying for a lot of things here, your daughter becoming a world class dancer is not one of them. The rest are all more than worthwhile in my opinion. My daughter does two dance classes at our local studio-which is run by a great instructor who makes it very clear they are not going to become famous dancers. What they do get is self confidence, physical activity, and some lessons on teamwork. Oh, and they learn how to dance a bit. Worth every penny. And our studio, thankfully, avoids The Nutcracker, and all the other stupid crap.

  5. -Nate

    Attention Single Men :

    This is but one of the myriad things that await you once you’re a Father .

    Festina Lente here .

    I had a Son and am poor but I had similar issues and now have it again with my 4 YO Grand Daughter…

    As Mark says : in the end you don’t really care unless it interferes with the rent .


  6. hank chinaski

    Collective ‘awwwwwwwww’.

    FWIW, Scouts is cheaper than dirt, although getting more converged by the year, and if you get involved yourself you’ll have to sleep on the ground.

  7. ComfortablyNumb

    We got my daughter started in Irish dance because of a similar experience with ballet. The focus is more on the sport, less on the pageantry. Everyone wears the same dresses and shoes, and you wear them until you outgrow them. There are “championship” dresses that can be a few G’s, but you don’t get there until you’ve danced for years and won multiple 1st place medals at competitions. And the parents are so, so much more bearable than ballet parents. Like, you don’t even know.

    Not to knock ballet…YMMV, as the kids say. If your girl is motivated to excel, enjoys putting in the work, and clicks with her teammates, there is a lot to be gained from it.

    But holy shit those parents were insufferable.

  8. Aoletsgo

    Well of course you get “extremely subpar teaching from a bunch of never-weres”. I think the best you can expect from a local, kids coach is that they have at least some knowledge, and they are not mini, sadistic Hayes/Bryant/ Schembechler characters. My daughter played the highest levels of soccer and volleyball in an upper-income community of a major metro and it was no better. The parent “coaches” were usually worse with their favoritism and little cliques.
    Would I take it back and do it different? Hells No! I also always had a sympathetic ear for the quietly, suffering Dance Dads.

    • Doug

      This is exactly what I am finding with the local volleyball rec league which is similar to what you describe. The “veteran” parent/coaches have found a way to rig the draft they do at the beginning of the year to set up teams. This puts newer coaches at a disadvantage as it is up to having the skills of evaluating which girls are good and which may need to have some development.

      The way the draft works is why I do not volunteer to coach even though I took several coaching classes in college. One coach who ALWAYS wins the tournament does not even have a daughter who is required to be on his team…this then opens him to pick the two best “5 star” picks every single time. I for one think he is mainly a creeper guy staying in the league when his daughter is not there, he must get some kind of jollys out of it.

  9. tmkreutzertmkreutzer

    It helps if you don’t think of that money as “paid to a dance studio of also-rans” but rather as a gift that you are giving to your daughter. You can say the same for the time you spend at lessons and at recitals, as well.

    If she enjoys it, that’s money well spent.

  10. Ronnie Schreiber

    After yeshiva tuition, there wasn’t much left over for stuff like dance and music lessons. There are priorities and then there are non-negotiables. Going to Jewish schools was a non-negotiable, more important than extra-curricular lessons or playing organized sports. As it happens, I got my older daughter a guitar and lessons, it didn’t take. The same with my younger daughter and a drum kit. My son, on the other hand, taught himself how to play guitar.

  11. Duong Ngyuen

    I works with a a guy who paid for his daughters dance classes until she was out of high school trying to get a job as a professional…

    He drove a PT Cruiser. Poor guy.

  12. -Nate

    “I long ago figured out that Taekwando was ballet for boys.”

    I’d think this would come in handy when they begin playing football, non ? .

    Some (over 1/2) of our Foster boys play High School football and how the hell they can cut and turn like that is beyond me .


  13. DougD

    Hang in there, it gets better. I suffered through the “5 minutes as a soldier” years, this year my 14 year old daughter had tons of stage time, the opening party scene, snow dance, spanish dance. It’s awesome. It’s also good fun because she works hard and has a great time knowing that this will never turn into a full time gig, so she is free to enjoy the experience.

    However, I did mention to her “Why is there only one Christmas ballet? Why do the nutcracker every year? Can’t somebody write something different, like Oinky the Pig buys Cheese?”

    So during their waiting times her and another girl started working on a new ballet. Oinky dances with the other pigs, leaves home, goes throught the forest, arrives at the supermarket, avoids being made into bacon. Grand finale is the dance with the cheese with lots of lifts.

    Now needs music and choreography. Maybe your daughter will still be dancing in time to perform it.


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