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The Dance Recital

The Dance Recital

I didn’t even know that my niece was taking dance classes. All year I’d been hearing about a final show at her gym, where we’d finally be allowed to see her doing gymnastics full out instead of jumping off couches and risking life and limb doing back tucks in the living room. We asked every few weeks, when would it be, where would it be, but no answer. Finally, on a Friday afternoon, we were told she had her dance recital on Sunday.

Dance? Not gymnastics?

Gymnastics would be later, on another unknown day, at an unknown time, and place, that we’d be told about at the last possible second.

The dance recital was held on the huge campus of a public high school in her neighborhood, in a stand-alone auditorium building, with a lobby filled with little girls in adorable dresses and pictures to order and very expensive tickets. The program for the show was huge, with thirty two dances overall, and my niece was in one at the beginning and one towards the end, so we were in for a long haul.

Most of the performances were by the girls from the school who were on the various dance teams, and I was afraid they would be intimidating, or upsettingly sexy for young girls, or too fake, but the feeling that came from the stage, for the most part, was that these girls had become family to each other. They loved dancing together. And they didn’t all come from the same backgrounds. There were a few other Jewish girls like my niece, a handful of black girls, Asian girls, Latinas, multiracial combinations, and girls of different sizes and shapes. There was a girl with Down syndrome in one of the younger groups and she looked like she was having a blast.

I loved the little girls who couldn’t remember the steps and kept looking to the side of the stage where their teachers were demonstrating the steps for them. Four little girls. All looking to the right or the left, doing maybe one out of every six steps in the dance. One of the littlest ones had to leave the stage because she was so overwhelmed. I felt her pain.

One of my niece’s routines was called “The Bling Bling” dance and there was a lot of jumping around involved. When we got back to her house afterwards I suggested that she teach Lilah, their black lab, how to do the dance, but she didn’t take me up on it. Lilah would have loved to wear some bling around her neck and jump around the living room with her human sister. I guess that’s kind of her daily life, though, now that I think about it.

Lilah and her bling!

Lilah and her bling!

Butterfly would like to go to ballet class. They’d have to lower the bar a bit for her, and adapt some of the positions to her unique body type, but she would love to twirl and spin and jump with the other little girls. She does a very impressive Russian split when I hold her up in the air. Or maybe she could take tap! Can you imagine the noise four tiny tap shoes could make on Butterfly’s feet? Or eight, if Cricket joined in?

Butterfly doing her ballet stretches.

Butterfly doing her ballet stretches.

Cricket practices ballet, with a prop.

Cricket practices ballet, with a prop.

I think they’d both enjoy going to dance classes, actually. Moving to the music, following the teacher, running across the dance floor with their friends. I wonder if anyone runs a ballet school for dogs. I’ll have to look into that.

Cricket loves to run!

Cricket loves to run!

Butterfly thinks grass and leaves would make a wonderful ballet surface!

Butterfly thinks grass and leaves would make a wonderful ballet surface!

I kind of like the idea of dance classes over obedience training for dogs. They could build up their core muscles and have fun and make friends. I never really saw the point of teaching my dogs how to walk at my heel. I’d rather they got to listen to music than listen to clickers. And the tutus would be adorable!

Wouldn't Butterfly look cute in this outfit? (not my picture)

Wouldn’t Butterfly look cute in this outfit? (not my picture)

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

49 responses »

  1. Butterfly and Cricket in tap shoes would be too precious!!!!

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  2. Love your detail about the little one with Downs–this ounds like a great dance program. I can’t help but picture a stage-full of dancing dogs now, though!

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  3. Hi Rachel
    Dancing with dogs is quite a big thing. Lots of videos on YouTube. Here is one to enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNVvvxo_EaU

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  4. Oh Rachel. I love this whole idea, wouldn’t it be fun Poppy could learn the Can Can I could see her enjoying that and like your two she loves prancing around, in fact we have already started as when I start dancing in my lounge to music on the radio she comes rushing in to join me and stands on her hind feet so I can hold her paws.
    So pleased that you niece has been learning in a happy and inclusive environment. That is really important.

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  5. I used to love the sound of my dog’s nail on the hardwood floor when they ran through the house–that click-clack sound. Oh, I could so picture Cricket and Butterfly just tapping their little hearts out in tap shoes–I would pay for very expensive tickets to see that, Rachel!

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  6. When you say “lower the bar”, do you mean literally or figuratively?

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  7. My girl Celia has her own particular dance moves – a favourite is bounding on mostly her back legs down the hallway with this sort of sideways crab like movement – hilarious!

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  8. Adorable! Love the idea of Cricket and Butterfly taking dance. The recital brought back memories of many a recital we attended for our oldest granddaughter. Fond memories of her breaking character and waving to us from onstage.

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  9. exiledprospero

    I’ve been to some of those dance recitals before…and they last for 4 1/2 hours! Yikes. Close your eyes afterwards and you still see flashes of tutus. Heck sometimes I think I still see them now.

    Ariel is a natural dancer–if you call spinning clockwise dancing.

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  10. When Nicholas trots across the kitchen floor, he sounds just like a tap dancer: it’s infuriating if you want to sleep! Pip

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  11. This is a neat blog. I wonder if my dog would like dancing-she’s fairly obedient but not taught to “heel” and I didn’t use a clicker either but she is smart and agile. Sometimes I think she gets too bored with routine. I’ll have to look into this more.

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  12. Cricket at the bar, or is that Barr. I never took dance but attended many recitals. One of my granddaughters went from dance to gymnastics to cheer leading for a university. Takes extreme flexibility!

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  13. So cute! Yesterday I saw a miniature apricot poodle walking down the hill on its back feet. A dancer in the making 🙂

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  14. So sweet! My husband and I dance with our puppy all the time! She loves to stand on hind legs and jump around with us.

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  15. Oh I LOVE your photos (all of them) but that last one really tugged my heart strings. How CUTE! My chihuahua ‘dances’ (chihuahua dancing – a class and style all of its own) but only when SHE feels the mood. The boy chihuahua (who has passed on) was taught to ‘dance’ early in life for treats and he continued to show off until the last month or so of life, when he was too ill TO dance. Dogs are natural and spontaneous too, so I could see some real interpretive dance being performed! Great post!

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  16. Those little girl dance recitals just make a person smile inside and out with the cuteness factor. Sam thinks he’s Fred Astaire and wants to dance on his hind legs with me whenever I come home. But truthfully he doesn’t lead at all! 🙂

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  17. This blog is well-written. I am an editor by profession. Keep cranking out the entries!

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  18. I am 36 and I would still have to look to the teacher for the correct dance moves! The rhythm gene passed a long way from me.

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  19. I do love children’s recitals where you have to trudge through the routines of 30 other kids just to see yours do their 2.5 minutes – ugh! Glad you caught it. It’s always ways for them to have a big audience.

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  20. Hysterical! I have been to many niece/nephew performances over the years and had the same concerns. I did find that when they are super little, they are first in line and the performances are short and sweet and for that, we are grateful. 🙂 But, when they are older and gone to college, the performances are WAY too short and too few. 😦 But I can always count on my weenie dog to dance so long as we still have food in the kitchen!
    Best,
    Trish

    Reply
  21. I never thought of dogs taking dancing lessons before, but I agree, it would be adorable. Thanks for sharing the story of the dance recital. I enjoyed it. 🙂

    Reply

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