Opinion

Things like dance recitals make child rearing worth it

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When I think back to when my ever lovin' and I decided to have

kids, I tried to picture how our life would change. I was off by about 90

percent. I had no idea how hard it would be. My sainted 78-year-old mother

had seven kids. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember her

moaning about doing three loads of laundry

every day for 30 years, color coding my brothers' skivvies to keep

them straight and cooking 25,000 meals on her old stove. It didn't quite

register. Kids are hard work. Mom made it look easy.

It is easy to get caught up in all the drudgery of child rearing. Children

are an endless cycle of feeding, cleaning, washing and holding them when

they cry. Not to mention the dreaded daily homework. Contrary to my mother,

I am not graceful at this. I swear that I spend most of my time putting out

the many fires of childhood. But every once in a while I get to sit back

and see what magical creatures my children are.

TJ Dance in Duvall supplies that magical moment. Owned and

operated by Peg Burnside and Jayne Hancock, TJ Dance is a place where magic

happens. All year long Peg and Jayne spend their days cajoling and

praising my little angels to tap, shuffle and hop until they get it right. They

are sent through their paces in jazz, ballet and tap until magically the

troop comes together into a cohesive whole greater than their parts. They move

to the music like wheat dancing in the wind. It is delightful.

Peg and Jayne choose music that is perfect for every age. They have

to since TJ teaches dancers ranging in age from three years to six

decades. Moms, grandmas, tots and teens — everyone finds a place to shine at

TJ Dance. All year long they sweat away, learning steps and hitting their

marks. All this hard work culminates in recital week.

Every movie about kids needs to have the scene where the kids'

recital is either unendingly boring or a complete disaster. Not true. Peg and

Jayne preside over an operation that marches like an army. If you figure the

logistics, your mind boggles — three separate shows with twenty numbers

each. Dances range from solos to full production numbers with 150

dancers, sets and lighting. And the costumes are amazing. Neon-colored chiffon

that floats like a feather. Leather, lace and yard upon yard of sequins and

feather boas. Every costume gets a prop and the costume styles range from

Bob Fosse to Ballanchine, whatever it takes to create the mood.

My mood would be insanity if I had to do what they do. There is

not enough Jack Daniels in the world to get me through a production of

this magnitude. The week is full of stage rehearsals, costume rehearsals,

pictures and more. I wallow in every moment of it. Last year alone I

spent over 24 hours watching rehearsals. I cried every moment. All those

little kids who didn't even know their right from their left feet get a moment

in the spotlight.

After the endless preparation, it all comes together on recital day.

This year it is on Saturday, June 24. The Cedarcrest auditorium will be

packed to the rafters from noon until well after 9 p.m. The three shows all start

and end with big production numbers featuring all the dancers decked out

in finery. What follows is a show like no other. Peg and Jayne encourage

the audience to participate in the performance. Hoots, hollers and

applause make the tappers tap harder, the ballerinas reach higher and the jazz

dancers hot, hot, hot! The huge variety of talent and ages makes it a better

show than I have ever seen on Broadway and way more fun.

If you want to come, there may be a few tickets left. The shows are

at noon, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for high school

kids and seniors, $4 for school-age kids and free for tots. Call (425) 844-9086

for tickets and availability.

I look forward to recital week more than my kids, I think. It is

the time to forget the work of child rearing and bask in the warmth of

little girls pressed and primped, ready to show the world what they can

do. Thank you Peg and Jayne for reminding me of what wonderful

creatures God has given me.

Kate Russell lives between

Carnation and Duvall. You can reach her at Katemo1@msn.com.

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