Monday, June 20, 2016

So You Think You Can Dance Recital

 The school year is finally winding down. E is done on Wednesday. His extra curricular activities were all still going on as well. He finishes his current swim team this week too. The only things that finished prior were acting class, gymnastics, and baseball. We had E's dance recital this past Sunday- Father's Day. It should've ended the Sunday before but it was an important Jewish holiday that I didn't even know about. They rescheduled the recital for Father's Day. It was fine because we ended up just going to the town pool and then over to the recital.

I just wanted to talk about E's dance school a little. It's called Dance Etc. in Fair Lawn. If you're looking for a low-key studio with amazingly talented teachers who CARE, this is a place you want to check out. They're new-ish. Next school year will be their third. This was their second recital.

E has danced in other places. I've gone to watch the recitals from other dance schools. I've had to get up at the crack of dawn to get recital tickets. I've seen some extremely polished recitals, that ran like clockwork, with hundreds of kids, or what looked like hundreds of kids. This is the thing- those are great, they're a lot of work and talent, but I felt like they were dance factories, just churning out dances. I know parents who have spent 20k-40k on dance in a year at some places with competitions and costumes. I also found out from a former dancer from a local school that it's the norm that solos are paid for. So, if you have enough money, it isn't necessarily talent that gets you a solo, it's cold, hard cash. I've never been a dancer, so I was totally in the dark about how it works. I don't know if it works like that everywhere, but it's not just at one place either.

None of that is "bad". It's just not what I want for E, because he has so many interests. The kid is on a swim team, takes hip hop, gymnastics, acting class, and baseball. That's what he did this past school year. In addition to having an agent and having to drop everything to learn pages of dialogue, go to auditions, or do some background work on shows that tape in NYC. I don't want him to have to choose between his interests or drop any because one takes up all his time. I feel like if I was at one of those competitive studios, he'd have to drop something. He already had to drop art class because we just didn't have the time this year. I love that he's so well-rounded and diverse so this is the perfect dance studio for him. He learned SO much and he loved every minute. Not one week, even though he could never stay to play with his friends on the playground after school, did he say he didn't want to go to dance class. 

Dance Etc may work their way up to stuff like that- I don't know. I just don't think it will ever be that kind of studio. Omar Diaz is one of the owners (along with Jackie Bodtmann, and I don't know if they have any other partners). Omar emceed the recital last year and this one. I think he's a huge part of why the recitals have been so awesome. He's funny and you can tell he really cares about all the kids. Even if he doesn't know them in person, because he isn't there when they have class, he still wants to make sure that overall, they're having fun. That's how dance for kids SHOULD be! FUN!

They charged $10 this year for the DVD and I'm happy to pay it. I think the DVD at some other schools, which costs- what- like ten cents for the actual DVD- costs like $45 for the parents. That's on top of the usual $85 for a costume. And something around $22 per recital ticket. Our tickets cost $18 per person this year, but I get that they have to rent out the space and it costs money. E's costume? I think it cost me $20 in total. They let me buy the pants from Dr Jay's online myself. They were on sale and I got him a plain black t-shirt. I didn't want him to wear a hat, so they were fine with it. I just appreciate that they didn't just try to do a money grab for an $80+ costume when I could get it myself for less.

In addition to the costume thing, there were other ways they show they care. If E's teacher couldn't come for some reason, which only happened like two times, they got a substitute teacher. It just turned out that he was the only kid in the class. They could've just cancelled but they never did. I really appreciated that. 

Something that is also really important to me, is their principles. Someone on one of my message boards asked the other day how much morals and principles come into play with your work. Would you do a job that conflicted with your morals/principles? Or work on a project that did. I said I didn't think I'd ever be in a position for that to happen. That I work for myself for many reasons and that's one of them. However- it does come into play in our work too. We made a PRIDE chandelier and posted it on social media as such. We are for equality of all people. I'm not afraid to put that out there. Dance Etc isn't either. The first dance was a contemporary piece, done by one of the fabulous teachers there, who I believe Omar said also has her own dance company. It was all about equality and love being love. (The dance was to Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert)

Both B and I give them credit, as a fairly new business, to take that stance, when they don't know how it's going to be received. It was brave. Even though it's dance, and the arts, and doing something with that theme should be a non-issue, there are always going to be those who disagree. Being as "damn the man" as I am, I'm all for it, but there are plenty of businesses who won't talk the talk or walk the walk. I actually got a bit emotional and teary watching her dance. I just felt it was exuding love in this time of such tragedy. It really set the tone for a lovely performance day.

Was it super-produced and run like a well-oiled machine? No. Omar had to change the battery of the camera in the middle somewhere. The curtain closed when it wasn't meant to close. It was funny. I liked the whole low-key scene. All that matters is that all the kids got up there, they all did their dances, and no one even cried- not even the littlest of the littles.

Because it was Father's Day, they had all the dads or whoever was representing the family, come up to dance with their kid. The kids looked thrilled and the dads or representatives looked proud. The finale had both Omar and Jackie dancing, who were amazing, then the awesome teachers, and then all the kids, freestyle dancing. I think the finale was my favorite part. It was like the end of Dirty Dancing.

It was a little bittersweet for me because my baby was no longer the one lone dancing boy baby. He was always the one cute little boy and now he's grown up a bit. There was a really little boy who was the cutest thing ever- like he just somehow happened upon the stage to dance. Then there were two other boys, both probably a year or two younger than E - one who did a ballet/jazz routine and one who did a hip hop routine. They were all great.

Zemy & E
I posted the video of just E and then the finale on my Facebook page. A lot of people watched and liked it, many commenting on how awesome it was to see. I'm hoping that by seeing E dance, it really opens the minds of the parents who are hesitant to put their little boys in a dance class. I know just from message boards and Facebook groups that most moms choose the activities when they're younger than elementary school. The first thing they think of is sports- usually soccer. Or they'd love to see their boy in a dance class, but the dad nixes the idea. I have to say that out of all E's activities, dance has given him the most confidence. Knowing how to dance is a skill. He feels totally confident to go into a group of teens at an event like a bar/bat mitzvah and bust a move. I also think it's made him more coordinated in general. I don't know that he would've picked up skateboarding as quickly as he did, if he hadn't taken three years of ballet/jazz/tap and then the past two years of hip hop.

I know his confidence soared just from being able to get up on the stage by himself and do his thing. B and I were probably more nervous than he was. 

If you have a little boy and you're local, I'll also tell you that it's much nicer to sit inside a dance studio for practice than it is to sit on a field in the elements!

OH- and they have a summer schedule. E won't be there because he's in camp, but he saw there are summer classes and he wanted to know why he can't do that too. Yeah, there aren't enough hours in the day....

E's performance to Dynamite, choreographed by Shaina "Zemy" Cohen: 

The Finale:

Dance Etc Studio
7-15 Fair Lawn Ave.
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

*Spellcheck is not working today, so if there are errors, I'll get to them another time.

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