this holiday weekend i’m in anaheim. my daughter liesl (11) is in a dance competition at the disneyland hotel. i’ve been here many times before for the same purpose (she’s been in competitive dance for years). so i know the drill. i know where the coffee shops are, and how to get my parking for free.
there are literally thousands of dancers here — all 5 to 18 years old. three large stages in ballrooms have a constant flow of performances in front of a judging panel, and the whole thing runs for three days. mindnumbing is truly the best word i can think of for the experience. one can only sit through so many groups of 7 year-olds dancing to a rockabilly song (apologies to dan kimball) before glazing over. and i know too much about this now: i know about lyrical and ballet and tap and jazz and hip-hop and production and, even, folkloric. sorry — i know this is cold — but two or three girls in what can only be described as a costume from “cats”, rolling around on the stage in a “lyrical” routine to “send in the clowns” must — absolutely must — kill off brain cells.
a tiny number of dads shuffle around, toting props and pink-and-black-zebra-striped dance bags, not making eye contact with anyone, afraid that doing so might somehow imply that they are either: a) a dancer themselves, or b) some sicko who enjoys watching endless streams of 5 year-olds do what can only be called “tap” since god invented the word “grace”. or even worse, as a sicko who enjoys watching the 16 year-old girls.
yes, kids — this is how the president of youth specialties spent his memorial day weekend: watching pre-teen girls dance, by the hundreds.
oddly enough, we are 1/2 mile from the “it’s a small world” attraction at disneyland, which has the same effect.
but my daughter loves it. and i get all choked up watching her, because she loves it so much. she rocked this morning in her trio (it was a “small group” of 4, until one of the girls rolled out of her bunk-bed this week and broke both wrists) danced a wicked-fast tap to a fun song called “supersonic”, and tied for 2nd place overall in her age category.