Friday, February 20, 2009

My Dance Recital

My Dance Recital by Maryann Cooca-Leffler, Robin Corey Books; Pop edition, 2009

As we coast into the spring semester, the end of the year dance recitals are not far off.

The costumes, the make-up, new dance tights, the hustle to the auditorium, scraping the hair up into a bun...the screams of pain as you drive the hairpins into their tender little skulls.
Ah yes, I remember it well.

This little pop-up book follows boys and girls through their preparations for a dance recital. Flaps lift, to reveal a costume in a hanging bag, a snack in the mother's purse. The face of a little ballerina changes as the reader dials through the various stages of make up and hair fixing. Levers move and the dancers kick, spin leap and bow. This is a nice preview for very young dancers of what a recital is and what is going to happen.

Alas, I note that there is NO MENTION of the paper engineer who designed the book. Did Maryann Cooca-Leffler do the engineering??? I call on publishers to credit the paper engineer 's talent in these books. Bringing an illustrator's vision into three dimensions is no small feat.

And now a word to the audience members:

Last weekend, this entfamily enjoyed an evening at the opera. Even at a venue where people have paid major $$ for their seats, the absence of any audience ettiquette was appalling. It is not enough that they get so little out of the singers artistry but their rudeness almost ruined it for the rest of us.

Therefore, I will take the opportunity of this book review to request a few behavior modifications to all people who will be "watching" their children's performances this Spring.

1. I know that every member of your family has their camcorder, Flip video, iPhone pointed towards the stage to capture little Hortense's Big Moment. Other parents' children are up there too. Please do NOT block their view of the stage as you "Cecil B. DeMille" this moment for posterity.

2. Talking during any performance is completely unacceptable. If you sit in front of me and decide to have a conversation to the person next to you while the performers are on stage, I am going to lean forward, between you both, and join in. If you are behind me I will turn around and ask to be included.

In fairness, I must warn you that I am ranked and certified as a ninth degree 'shusher." As a professional librarian (this secret knowledge is passed along in library school) I have many weapons at my disposal. The Nancy Pearl action figure was NOT just an homage to a beloved personality, it was accurate representation of a special library ops maneuver, hence the term "action figure."

Generally, I start with a general tightening of my lips but that can quickly escalate to the "eyes-of-death, narrowed" with "emphatic finger-to-pursed-lips" technique which is almost always successful when eye contact with the offender is possible. If not, I have skills that allow for a gentle shushing murmer to reach ears from a fair distance. If necessary I can aim, with frightening accuracy, a neutron bomb of a hush. You will be stunned by the concussion while your surroundings remain intact. I have rarely had to deploy to this level but I have the ability and if necessary, I will use it.

3. Don't whisper nasty, catty, unkind things about the other performers.
I can hear you and I will tell people what you said. If you have to share something, save it for during the applause. I will still hear what you said but if you don't ruin the show for me, I might not tell anyone. Then again...

4. Turn off your phones. No, really, turn them OFF. Do not just turn down the volume of the ringer. The phones really do mess up the microphones, plus, we don't need to know what your ringtone is.

5. Do not check your email or text message during a performance.

I know that you cannot wait to read the Fw: Fw: Fw: of that hi-larious email with the photos of cats from your mother-in-law but really, save that treat for after the show.

Plus, you just complained about the wireless microphones cutting out during the performance. Well, YOUR phone did it. An auditorium full of people texting will interfere with the equipment and ruin it for all of us.

6. Sitting in the dark and enjoying dance, or a band performance, or the musical gifts of a choir is a magical experience. If the GLOW from your Blackberry/iPhone ruins this moment for me I will, loudly, tell you to TURN IT OFF and embarrass you as much as possible. In your heart you will KNOW that I am right to do so.

...And in any event, how can you, I repeat, how CAN you be so rude and uncaring and disinterested in these young people's moments on stage? They have worked so hard. Can't you just marvel in their progress? Are you really so shallow? Even if YOUR child has finished their performance, other people around you are still waiting to see their kids. If it is THAT boring for you, please leave.

7. Finally, the end of the school is an emotional time for parents. It is a time of "what could have beens" and "if onlys..." Do you really want to be the spark that lights the fuse of a parent on the edge? Have nice manners and model proper audience ettiquette for your children.

By the way, I'm starting a website called "People Who Interrupt Fine Arts Performances" (WIP) and I cannot wait to feature your photo there.

Seriously, I've had it and I'm taking names.


tanita✿davis said...

"If necessary I can aim, with frightening accuracy, a a neutron bomb of a hush. You will be stunned by the concussion while your surroundings remain intact.

You do realize that laughing as loudly as I have been makes the Hobbitboy have to come over and see what I am reading.

I am forwarding this to many a teacher and musician friend. We will help support your website, to be sure... Go, Camille! Get 'em...

Ladytink_534 said...

It is appalling how rude people are today!

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha! I agree, Camille.

From the title, though, I was really hoping that you had been in a dance recital.

Mary Witzl said...

This is wonderful.

As a former ballet mother and champion husher myself, I really enjoyed reading this. Wish I could have handed this out at my daughters' performances.

Camille said...

High school choir concerts are often a trial for me. I may have to get a badge for my new website and roam the aisles before the performance asking people if they are going to want to be featured on "People Who Interrupt Fine Arts Performances"

Hmmm... I need a catchier acroonym. PWIFAP does not evoke the fear or project the loathing.

anne said...

most excellent posting! I attend recitals annually, and folks ARE often incredibly RUDE! (and yet, if we were to talk during THEIR kids' performance, well!!)


Anonymous said...

Amen! I had an experience at a ballet recently with an older couple sitting directly behind me. She made comments/asked questions about what was happening on stage throughout the performance. I was too stunned to do/say anything. I thought maybe she was impaired in some way and I didn't want to be unkind.