“Families, come on in,” said my daughter’s dance teacher, giving us her beautiful smile. I peeked into the studio and saw kids adjusting ribbon skirts and neck kerchiefs. “Costumes!” I said in surprise. “Aren’t costumes the whole point?” asked another mother, grinning.
I didn’t expect costumes that April afternoon because this wasn’t a recital—just a studio performance in the session’s final 15 minutes. We carried in folding chairs to watch our 6- to-8-year-olds dance to “Rockin’ Robin.” The kids looked happy and had learned plenty in 12 weeks, but this was no precision drill team. Afterward, we clapped and hugged, one mother handed the teacher roses, and a group photo was taken. Then, time to go—the next class was coming in.
Maybe one day I’ll hanker for a “real” recital with all the fixings. That day, I was grateful just to show up for that short-and-sweet little show.
Recital season is crazy for dance teachers, but the spring months tend to be chock-a-block for parents of grade-school-age children too. (You readers who are both: you’re amazing.) Birthday parties multiply. Sports start up. The school play, dance concert, spring fair, work parties, open house, kindergarten registration, and retirement celebrations fill the calendar in the form of scribbled notes. I’m slammed at work, yet keep agreeing to contribute homemade desserts. My daughter wants help selling raffle tickets so she can win a Frisbee. Summer’s not planned yet and the clock is ticking: camps, childcare, can we manage a vacation?
So I took that April mini-recital as a gift. No rehearsals, no sewing, no extra laundry, no baking, no parental responsibility required. Just showing up, kids dancing, and a roomful of adults smiling in joy. And for me, at least, it only took 15 minutes. —Tamsin Nutter
DSL associate editor Tamsin Nutter lives in Berkeley, California. A former MoMA marketing writer, she trained at Vassar College and The Ailey School and danced in NYC with Regina Nejman & Company and others.