My ballerina performed in a big dance competition last weekend. I was expecting fierce ballet rivalry but her team scored a few top awards. Why? Two simple reasons: 1. They're good and, 2. 99% of the competing dances were a glut of skanked-out, booty-shaking, hooker grinding strip-a-paloozas. I mean, the sheer lack of serious ballet competitors certainly made my ballerina's team stand out--but so what? They competed against a boatload of crap. Where's the glory in that? It wasn't difficult to pick out the dancers who relied on skill and technique vs. the dancers who relied on fishnet stockings and shaking it like a Polaroid picture.
Even so, there was a sense of validation in knowing dance judges still appreciate old-school classical dance and that proper ballet training still matters.
I was so astonished by the wolf-whistles and cat-calls coming from parents in the audience that couldn't help but wonder: am I totally out of touch?
I mean, I had no idea that pimping out a five year-old in hooker getup was--as I overheard a doting mother call it-- "cute." In my book that's not cute, that's called child exploitation. But if I dare question costume choice or butt-grinding moves, I'm called "pretentious," "prudish" and my personal favorite: "elitist." Yes, elitist.
This is where we are today, folks: refraining from shaking your ass in the audience's face is elitist.
BA HA HA.
What really amuses me, though, are people who ask me if I ever worry about my ballerina because, you know, ballet is so strict. Why, yes. I'm very worried about my daughter's aversion to booty-grinding. It keeps me up at night, har har.
You know what truly worries me? Watching a troupe of 8 year old little girls slap their grinding behinds while winking at the audience over their shoulders. I'm supposed to applaud this? I feel like I should be calling Child Protective Services.
What's next? Kindergartners swinging on strip poles?
Hey, I have an idea. Why don't we just lay out the welcome mat for every single pedophile within a 50 mile radius and invite them to come snap pictures of our gussied-up baby girls winking at them?
After watching a veritable parade of strip-teasing, it was a blessed relief to watch my ballerina's team perform with elegance, grace and skill.
Last time she attended a competition, a dance judge approached our team and expressed her joy at watching "real, classical ballet." In fact, she gave my ballerina's team The Judge's Award.
When this weekend's show was finally over and we were driving home, my ballerina and her friend were discussing the dismissive remarks they'd heard other dancers say about ballet. Ballet, they'd been told, was boring. Like, yawn. Like, OMG, whatevs.
"They have no idea how hard it is to do a fuette," my ballerina said.
Aye, there's the rub. Ballet is hard. In fact, it's damn near impossible. It requires years of training, years of discipline, years of sold-out commitment. There's no immediate gratification in ballet. Furthermore, a ballet career is short and it probably won't make you rich (at least, in America).
Booty-shaking, by comparison, is easy. Anyone can shake what their Mama gave them. And yeah, maybe you'll get thunderous applause and wolf-whistles. You might even get rich--of course, you'll be easily forgotten.
After all, if you've seen one butt, you've seen 'em all.
Ballet, however, offers something exquisitely rare: the opportunity--however fleeting--to create shimmering moments of immortal art.
Ballet elevates humanity. It never debases or dehumanizes. The very effort and discipline of dancing ballet--even if never danced professionally--is a quest for something worthy, noble and truly beautiful.
So, let them call you pretentious. Let them call you elitist. And boring. Just keep tying those pointe shoes, sweetheart.
Because history rarely remembers the revelers of raunch, the peddlers of putridity.
But true art lasts forever.