10 Things That Would Make Dance Recitals Way Less Painful To Watch


Our oldest daughter is a huge fan of all things shiny, sparkly and frilly; and dance classes are on her agenda. While we are parents that believe firmly in allowing our daughters and our son to try any activity that interests them so that they can find their true passion, we’ve spent years trying to avoid the dance trap. We’ve been there; done that with our niece. We went to one recital and walked out feeling as if we’d been imprisoned for half our lives. It’s nothing against our niece or children that dance, but what a commitment. That recital is LONG. And it’s painful in so many ways; boredom and horror and embarrassment don’t even begin to cover it. But our daughter wants to try it (also soccer, but that’s another one we’re hoping she’ll forget about since, you know, 7 am on Saturdays in the middle of the coldest part of the year in Florida? No thanks).

Among the worst parts of the dance recital (aside the fact that it’s about 78 hours – or 3, whatever) is that there is something so innately painful about watching little girls in makeup, stiff hair and grown-up ensembles. For the love of God, people, let’s just let these little girls be little girls. Dressing up a toddler like a miniature version of Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” is the thing that discomfort is made of and pedophiles adore. Whatever happened to sparkly dress and pigtails? But since it’s that time of year and mothers and fathers and grandparents are counting down the rapidly approaching day of the big dance recital that will undoubtedly feel longer than the past six months, we have a few suggestions that might make your little girls’ recital seem less like torture and more fun.


Because everything is funnier when you’re a little buzzed. Try to keep it classy though, folks. We don’t want any drunk parents doing anything inappropriate or misbehaving, but I don’t see how a glass or two or three of wine before the event (or in a yeti cup that looks like water) could hurt.

Encourage Better Music

While your little girl is in her classes rehearsing for the recital, mention loudly on several occasions that you’re certain that Swan Lake would work much better to the tune of “Anaconda,” so that the instructor can’t help but hear (the radio version, of course).

Show Up for Your Kid Only

Dance recitals are more fun to watch when it’s your own kid, so go ahead and find out what time yours goes on and show up a little before that, leave after and come back for your kid when all is said and done. Or plan a sleepover night for your kid at a fellow dance-mom’s house that night so you don’t even have to come back.

Ditch the Small Kids

The only thing that could possibly make an already long and torturous dance recital even longer and more torturous is the incessant whining of a bored child. Leave them at home with a sitter. Everyone thanks you.

Bring the Small Kids

On second thought; small kids say what everyone else is thinking, so bring them along for the entertainment purposes. Nothing sounds like more fun than a narrative of the horrors of a dance recital coming from the mouth of a toddler. Record it. Put it on YouTube. Before you know it, you’ll be accepting an invitation to the Ellen DeGeneres show for you and your family and you’ll be totally famous and best friends with her and Portia and that will lead to a guest spot on “Scandal” and then you’ll get to meet Fitz and he’ll fall in love with you…well, you get the point.

Ask the Instructor to Set up a Bar

It might be less awkward to drink legally with everyone else than to go through that awkward moment of pulling small liquor bottles out of your bag to mix drinks in plastic cups throughout the show. I mean, everyone else is doing it, too, but why bother with the awkward when it could be so much less? Sure, there are things to consider like liquor licenses in public places, so feel free to volunteer your home or backyard or personal auditorium for this performance so that everyone can really enjoy the night.


Unless the program specifically states that audience participation is strictly forbidden, feel free to head to the back of the room during performances not involving your child and break it down. Because that would be fun for you, burn some calories and entertain everyone. And if a few people throw dollar bills your way, good for you.

Place Bets

In no way am I encouraging any form of gambling (or drinking or table dancing or inappropriate music despite just about everything I’ve already written), but sometimes my husband and I like to place bets on boring things. Like how many kids will cry. Which ones will fold under pressure and which ones will act like they would rather be anywhere else entirely. It makes things a bit more interesting.

Bring a Sarcastic Friend

When you have a sarcastic friend who isn’t afraid to lean over and provide a running – whispered – commentary, life is so much more fun. Bring this friend. Provide this friend with a microphone and share the fun and good times.

Request an Announcer

Every other sport (ever) gets an announcer, so why not dance recitals? And don’t give me that, “It’s not a sport,” crap, because who cares? An announcer would make this so much more fun in so many ways. “And here comes little Katie Smith with her ponytail so tight she looks as if she’s gotten the same lift as her mother did last spring when she tried to claim she was just using a new moisturize. Look at those extensions! And I’m not talking about the ones she’s doing with her toes, either. I’m talking about the ones in her hair!’

Come on; that would make the night epic (and I hate that word).

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images


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