...even if it's your child's dance recital or some other inane theater experience, it's still the theater! Last night, my family went to see my son's breakdancing performance. It was a dance recital for the (for the most part) upper school of a local dance school. There was everything from six year olds fumbling through "ballet" to tappers of all ages, jazz, lyrical, more lyrical, angry lyrical, ballet with former professional dancers, ballet with very non-professional (adult) dancers and a quasi-professional salsa duo, or was it tango, whatever it was, she was twice his size, at least her thighs were (not complaining about her thighs, just that the proportions of the two dancers together were way off), but they were confident and capable.
If I didn't have a dance background, it would have been pretty boring (except for my son, he was awesome, of course!). So I can only imagine just how painful it was to watch for most of the audience. But that does not mean you can 1) send texts and/or emails 2) play Bubble Breaker on your cell phone 3) check the time on your phone 4) talk on your phone or 5) talk to your seat mate. Do you know how bright your phone's screen is in the dark? People, it's rude and distracting. Also, when they announce at the top of the show that flash photography is prohibited because it's dangerous to the dancers, DON'T DO IT! IT IS A HUGE DISTRACTION TO THE PERFORMERS!!!! Also, by they way, it's annoying to the rest of the audience. Flash... Flash.... Flash.
Another tip, don't take videos during the performance. Your kid is going to look like a bright blur, whether it's on a camcorder, cell phone, or Flip camera. The audience becomes a sea of bright screens in front of you while people were recording their kids. Not only that, but when you record, you tend to miss the actual performance. And live performance is far better than the recorded version. The magic doesn't transfer. (Besides, the school hired a professional to take video. Spend another $25, enjoy the show, spare the rest of the audience, and get a better recorded version on DVD.)
When you child has finished performing, don't get up and leave. It's rude to the other performers, it's rude to the rest of the audience. You might get surprised by what you'll see. Just because it's not Lincoln Center, doesn't mean there won't be something of value to see. However, if you're with a small child who is getting restless because she is up past her bedtime but wanted to see her big brother dance, I give you permission to leave at intermission. And that is the time to get up and walk out, at intermission (thank you, dear husband, you handled her well), not in the middle of a routine. Don't bring a baby or a two year old or even a four year old. Get a babysitter instead.
And another thing, it's the theater. Get dressed up. I'm not suggesting black tie or even cocktail attire, but certainly not ratty jeans and a sports jersey (I haven't been talking about a rock concert here, have I?). Make going to theater special, it's not a trip to the grocery store. Show the performers some respect (show the other audience members some respect, too). Make it special for them, even if the performer is your 5 year old. Your child will see that you take them seriously. Besides, how else will they learn? Children learn by their parents' example.
There, I've said it.