Sitting here procrastinating, wanting to blog but not knowing what to blog about , or more realistically, not knowing where to start so instead of thinking I have decided to start cleaning out my draft folder. Lots of post have hit the trash pile without a second thought but some I figure I spent the time writing them I may as well update them and hit publish.
Since this is the night before dancing, I figured I would drag out the dance related post stashed away since December.
So we have just finished our first year at a new dance studio. Well to be truthful we have just finished our first 3 terms for boy-child and 2 terms for girl-child at a new dance studio. That means it is time for me to try and work out if the move was worth it.
The distance and travel time to each studio was comparable, both around 10-15 minutes drive time.
The old studio was small and I guess intimate. We had been there for over 3 years, the teachers knew us and we knew most of the other families that attended. There were only a 2 studios so there were never that many people there yet the location was awkward and parking was a nightmare – it was on a busy road with restricted parking and a clearway each afternoon. There wasn’t much around the studio to do and the foyer was small and cramped.
The new studio is beautiful. It was like walking into the set of Fame. There were a dozen or so studios designed for different dance styles and for singing. There were full time dancers studying there as well as what felt like a million kids running in between classes. We only knew one or two other kids dancing there so it was overwhelming for the kids. Parking was still limited but it wasn’t impossible to find and it was a small dead end street. Even being in an area with little around it there is a great coffee shop downstairs. (Delicious caramel slice)
The classes and teachers
At the old studio, boy-child was the only boy in any of his classes. The routines were girly and he wasn’t really given anything to do. When it came to costumes he was an afterthought – I had to whip-up something for him once everyone else was organised. When he transferred in to an all boy class he was by far the youngest student and was out of his depth. At the new studio he was still the youngest in the class but the teacher worked to all the kids abilities. The older more talented kids were challenged and the younger kids were inspired but not left too far behind.
Girl-child loved her old teacher and her old class but her teacher worked elsewhere so was often away. The class material was simple for most of the students and they didn’t seem to be progressing. She was getting bored and was reluctant to keep going. She wanted to stop entirely. She took a term off and then a school friend wanted to try dance class so they joined together. Again the teacher was lovely but the class material was too simple, it was after all a beginners class and she had been dancing for 2 years. She was just happy to be dancing again and didn’t want to be away from her only friend in the class.
Concerts are always a nightmare and involve additional costs, rehearsal and costumes.
At the old studio the kids both danced different styles and did multiple routines for each class thus requiring multiple expensive costumes. In boy-child’s first year his costume cost was $110 for 3 costumes. Now realistically that wouldn’t be too much to ask but as he was a costume ‘after-thought’ and I made 2 of the costumes and bought most of the fabrics required for said costumes it was insanely expensive. In girl-child’s first year she had 2 costumes, one that cost $80 and another for $60. One costume was gorgeous, the second not so much but both worthy additions to the dress up box. Of course costume fittings were an additional time spent at the studio usually after a class. They also did a mid-year concert so we had purchased one costume mid-year, along with tickets to this concert. The big end of year concert involved a minimum of 2 full day rehearsals of a Saturday or Sunday. We weren’t required to be there the entire time but only for the specific dance items each child was in. With 2 kids in different classes it usually involved us being there all day of each rehearsal. There was a full day photo shoot that involved full hair, make-up and costume at the studio. Again we were only required at specific times but with 2 kids that was most of the day. There was a dress rehearsal also, held on the night before the concert that ran from 6pm until 10.30pm or later – a huge ask for 4 year olds, the age that my guys were when they first began. Then on show day, the following day there was a show at 2 and another at 6.30pm with about an hour or so in between. The whole process was expensive and exhausting. The costs included a rehearsal fee that covered all the additional rehearsals. Then there was the concert tickets, expensive but not entirely prohibitive, photos – not compulsory to buy but inevitably they were purchased and were expensive and then a dvd of the show that was poorly shot, badly edited and still expensive. The show was usually worth watching, well produced but at times the dancing itself was boring and repetitive.
Then we get to the new studio. Both kids were only dancing in one class and each class was limited to only having one routine in the concert. That limited us to only one costume for each kid. Boy-child was wearing street clothes, stuff he already had so there was no cost there. Girl-child had a costume hire fee of $60 and therefore there is no new addition to her costume collection at home. The costume was simple and effective but the head pieces didn’t fit very well and kept moving throughout the dance distracting them all. The costume was very over-priced, I could have bought or made a costume for a much better price. In reality those only requiring one costume subsidised the cost of those requiring more costumes. It was $60 for one costume hire, $80 for 2 and so on. There were people dancing in more than a dozen routines so if they had to buy each costume the cost would be out of this world, as a rental the cost would still have been huge but not totally prohibitive. I hope that what goes around comes around and when we need more costumes the pricing structure remains. Then for the additional rehearsals – they were all held of a week night last week (the week of the concert), from 5 until 8pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. There was a full dress rehearsal on the Thursday morning, at the inhuman hour of 7.45 in the city that ran until 12.30 giving everyone 4 hours to rest and prepare before heading back in to the city to get ready for the show that began at 6.30pm. Each rehearsal at the studio cost $10 so I think it was comparable to the old studio. The dollars mounted up when it got to concert tickets. At $60 each I was the only one going. I actively avoided inviting anyone else to attend because of the insane cost. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the concert but I did. In fact it was amazing. Each act was short and sweet so there wasn’t much time to be bored by watching a repetitive and boring routine. To be totally honest, there were some acts that I wished lasted longer.
That was as far as my comparison of the studios went before I got bored or sidetracked. I was going to trash this post too but I figure when it is almost the end of the year and concert season is about to kick in I may need the reminder that dance for kids is money siphoning madness, but madness that they love and I cope with.
To sum it all up, the kids decided that they liked their new studio best so they are still there. Conveniently enough they both found a class that is on the same night, at similar times so it isn’t too much effort to take them to class. Girl-child is in a class that is more appropriate for her, with the teacher that she loves so she loves going there. Boy-child is still going to an all boys class but I can’t tell if he actually wants to be there. He has been moved up a class but is still the youngest and perhaps struggling at times. The class that is easier than the one he is doing is too easy and he would be bored and disruptive. As a result he is trapped in a class that is not quite perfect but the best fit for now. He goes through phases of saying he doesn’t want to dance but he goes along without much fuss. He is constantly tapping his feet and trying not to dance so I figure he still does want to be there. He has mentioned that he wants to go back to circus class and he is still talking of doing ice skating lessons so that he can play ice hockey.
There really aren’t enough days in the week to do all that he wants to do. For now, it is just easier to have them both doing the same activity, well activities if you count being dragged along to work activities with me of a Monday and Tuesday each week. Their extra activity at the moment is dancing and I am fortunate that it is at the same place at the same(ish) time. It is quicker to get to the new studio and since I don’t know many of the other parents who are stuck hanging around for their kids, I usually use the time to catch up on some work or read a book. It is enforced downtime. I figure that as the kids get older and more involved in other activities the time that I have to sit and read a book is going to dwindle away even further so I should try to make the most of the madness that I am living now.
How do other people juggle their worlds? How do you fit in work, domestic madness, kids activities, down time, sleep and blogging. Do other people have more hours in their days and how can I get some too?