So how about this: the cost of this studio is ridiculous. The monthly tuition isn't terrible but the additional competition fees are ludicrous and out of proportion. They are also stupidly insane in a struggling economy where people are losing their jobs right and left. In addition to competition entry fees, which I fully expect to have to pay for, we have to pay for each and every extra rehearsal our child must attend. That is $10 each and every time. Perhaps this doesn't sound like a lot but she has extra rehearsals almost every weekend from now until July, at which point she has *14* extra rehearsals. Yes, July alone will cost me $140 in rehearsal fees because apparently they must rent out a gym somewhere instead of using the studio rooms they already own. Now, multiply that amount of money by more than 60 kids (I don't know the exact number of competition kids but 60 is in the ballpark). What a stellar use of money, don't you think?
I've already had to fork over money for the team leotard, team warm-up suit, team make-up set (from Avon), barrette, earrings, necklace, and bracelet, all of which must be purchased through the studio so that they can take their cut of it. I have to pay more for each of four costumes (three of which are for competition) than I do on my own clothing.
We also had to pay to buy tickets to the debut show this past weekend. Now while that doesn't necessarily sound terrible, how about this: we were all *obligated* to purchase 10 tickets to the tune of $50. Now maybe others are comfortable with asking friends and neighbors to pay for tickets to a dance show put on by 4 year olds through 18 year olds, but I'm not. Quite honestly, I would never be willing to go to a show my child wasn't in so I don't want to put others in the position to admit to me that they agree that such a premise is one of Dante's circles of hell. And we have very little family in the area so I had to eat the tickets, of which we used a whopping 4. Not that I'm bitter about writing checks for nonsensical crap, mind you.
Now the kicker in my mind was the costume snafu we had. As mentioned before, these are quite the ugliest dance costumes I've seen, and given how bad dance costumes generally are, this is going some. And they are rangingly expensive, of course, but I expect that. Above and beyond that though, R. was given her three costumes before the show and two of the three fit fine. They were a child's large. The third, however, was a child's medium. Now she's a fairly tall kid and she really needs the large. The medium looked like it was absolutely painted on her body. It will never last until nationals in July as it already leaves red gouge marks on her shoulders. So I e-mailed the studio owner and asked her if there could possibly have been a mix-up in the sizes, especially since it didn't match her other two and the fact that she is without a doubt the tallest kid in the number. I also might have mentioned that R. could barely get the belt that should velcro closed around the middle to close and that someone was in danger of having an eye put out it popped as the three threadlike velcro closures straining to keep it together gave up when she danced around in it. (Too flippant, you think?) Miss M. agreed that she'd check things out that night at the dress rehearsal. Do you think one thing was said that night? Nope. So I asked, rather loudly, in the dressing room if the other moms would please look at theirs and see if anyone had a large that shouldn't. That bastion of friendliness looked over at me in horror and continued dressing their children without even a token glance at the tag in the costumes. So we still have a painted on costume with ruffles that barely cover her rear (everyone else's comes half way down their thighs) but on the plus side, R. did swap belts with a child whose belt was so droopy that it wouldn't stay up while they were standing backstage. I do believe I paid a cool $100 for this charming costume that should last her as long as she doesn't ever grow again or even eat a tummy-bloating dinner at Taco Bell. You'd think for the amount of money I keep forking over to these people that they would at least look into the costume thing ($600 last month and $400 more this coming month just to give you a taste of the amount I am whining about--not exactly pocket change).
Each and every day I get more disenchanted. And while R. says she doesn't want to switch studios, I may not give her a choice. Of course, if she doesn't bring her grades up it will be immaterial because she will be doing no extracurricular stuff anyway. If there's a silver lining to poor grades, I guess it's that it would solve my dance concerns easily. :-P
Oh and I should say a small bit about the actual dancing since it's not really about the money, right? (OK, it is about the money, but...) I'm also not sold on the dance choreography and the dress rehearsal I saw showcased rather sloppy dancing. Now I heard it was cleaned up the following night for the show but I stayed in the back so I can't speak to that. What I can say, having watched the routines the day before though, is that this studio is overly obsessed with flexibility and simply moves dancers from Gumby-like position to Gumby-like position, sacrificing much of the grace and fluidity that makes dance interesting to watch. Do I care if some nine-year old can get her foot behind her ear while the other set of toes picks her nose? Nope. Now I probably have no idea what I am talking about here, not having been a dancer myself, but I am left less than impressed with the constant contortions. Where's the beauty? If my wallet must be empty, feed my soul, will you? And so I'll now have to wrestle with whether or not to force a change on R. who likes it here, despite her complete handicap as concerns flexibility.