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Recital Starter Kits

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Six mini-packages take the pain out of recital planning

By Rhee Gold

When recital time rolls around, you know there will be plenty of anticipation and excitement in the air. But getting to that high point takes an abundance of planning and creativity, and the process can seem daunting. If you’re an old hand at putting on a show, you know what it takes and you’ve probably got ideas galore up your sleeve. But if you’re new to producing recitals or just plain out of ideas, we’re here to help.

These six recital starter kits work like templates—they give you a theme, some ideas for backdrops, and 12 songs to get you started. The rest is up to you, whether you go all-out with staging and costumes or keep it small and simple. Add to the songs here or use them as jumping-off points for your own ideas; adopt these themes or come up with your own variations.

As the first show theme says, the sky’s the limit. So get going, and make the show your own—and a memorable one for your studio family.

Show Theme: The Sky’s the Limit
Teach your dancers that life has no limits and that they can accomplish anything they desire with this positive theme. For backdrops, consider a beautiful blue sky with a touch of white clouds, or a moon or sun.

Song: “See You on the Moon!” by the Great Lake Swimmers on See You on the Moon!: Songs for Kids of All Ages
Age/dance genre: 7–10; jazz, tap

Song: “The Sun Is Shining” on Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; jazz blues

Song: “Airplanes” (featuring Hayley Williams) on B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray (Edited)
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; hip-hop, jazz

Song: “Up” by Justin Bieber on My World 2.0
Age/dance genre: 10–12; jazz/lyrical

Song: “My Little Red Rocket Ship” on Kids in Space & Beyond
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “Walk on Water” by David Lanz on Finding Paradise
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; ballet

Song: “No Limits” by Raymond & Co. on Gotta Have Gospel!
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; hip-hop, jazz, tap

Song: “The Second Star to the Right” by T-Squad on Disneymania 5
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; hip-hop, jazz, tap

Song: “Go the Distance” by Lucas Grabeel on Disneymania 5
Age/dance genre: All ages; lyrical

Song: “This Little Pig Went to Pluto” on Kids in Space & Beyond
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “Kids of the Future” by the Jonas Brothers on Meet the Robinsons (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz

Song: “Bop to the Top” on High School Musical 2 Hits Collection Soundtrack
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz, tap

Show Theme: It’s Shoetime, Folks!
Impress your clientele with this clever theme that can incorporate songs about shoes, boots, and feet, along with others. The backdrop could be a shoe store or maybe a scene from the nursery rhyme “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.”

Song: “Rhythm in Her Shoe” by Jessica Harper on Rhythm in My Shoes
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; tap

Song: “1, 2, Buckle My Shoe” on Toddler Favorites Too!
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “I Can’t Tie My Shoes” by The Dream Jam Band on Leave It in the Soup
Age/dance genre: 10 and under; musical theater

Song: “Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo.” by Rae Allen on Damn Yankees (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: All ages; tap

Song: “Boogie Shoes” on KC and the Sunshine Band Greatest Hits
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; jazz

Song: “Shoeshine Man” by Tom T. Hall on The Definitive Collection
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; tap

Song: You’ll Never Walk Alone” on Elvis: Ultimate Gospel
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; lyrical

Song: “Happy Feet” on Best of The Muppets featuring The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz
Age/dance genre: 7–10; tap

Song: “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ ” by Nancy Sinatra on Full Metal Jacket: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz

Song: “Sand in My Shoes” on The Piano Tribute to Dido
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; ballet

Song: “High Heel Sneakers” by Tommy Tucker on Lackawanna Blues (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; jazz

Song: “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins on Blue Suede Shoes: The Very Best of Carl Perkins
Age/dance genre: All ages; jazz, tap

Show Theme: We Are One
Shine your school’s spotlight on a theme that reminds your dancers and audiences that no matter where someone is from or what they believe in, the world and its people are one. Backdrops for this could depict children holding hands or a map of the world. You could also incorporate a projection of all your dancers, taken the day before at dress rehearsal.

Song: “We’re All in This Together” on High School Musical 2 Hits Collection Soundtrack
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz, tap, musical theater

Song: “This Land Is Your Land” by Kids Direct on Best On the Go Classics
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “With a Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker on Flower Power: California Dreamin’
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; lyrical

Song: “Heal the World” on The Essential Michael Jackson
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; lyrical

Song: “Black or White” on The Essential Michael Jackson
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz

Song: “Hold My Hand” on The Best of Hootie & The Blowfish: 1993 Thru 2003
Age/dance genre: all ages; jazz, tap

Song: “S-M-I-L-E” by Cedarmont Kids on 100 Sing-Along Songs for Kids
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “Power to the People” on Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon
Age/dance genre: all ages; jazz

Song: “Together, Wherever We Go” by Bette Midler on Gypsy (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; tap, musical theater

Song: “We Did It!” by Dora the Explorer on We Did It! Dora’s Greatest Hits
Age/dance genre: 7 and under; jazz

Song: “United We Stand” on 16 Legendary Covers as Sung by Elton John
Age/dance genre: all ages; jazz

Song: “The Power” by Benito Benites on The Ultimate Hits of the ’90s
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; hip-hop

Show Theme: We’ve Got the Music in Us!

Go anywhere with this theme! There are thousands of song choices with the word “music” in their titles, so let your imagination go. Backdrops could include piano keys, musical notes, or a big band.

Song: “You Are the Music in Me (Sharpay version) on High School Musical 2 Hits Collection Soundtrack
Age/dance genre: 7–12; jazz, tap

Song: “Do-Re-Mi” on Discovering Music: Songs & Games
Age/dance genre: Preschool 

Song: “Dance to the Music” by The Hit Crew on Kids Just Wanna Have Fun
Age/dance genre: 6 and up; jazz, tap

Song: “Music Box” by Mariah Carey on X2: Music Box/Butterfly
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; lyrical

Song: “Dancing in the Street” on Best of Bowie
Age/dance genre: all ages; tap, jazz

Song: “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” by Don Henley on Hits of the ’80s
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz, tap

Song: “I Write the Songs” by Barry Manilow on Ultimate Manilow
Age/dance genre: all ages; lyrical

Song: “Sweet Music Man” by Reba McEntire on Greatest Hits, Vol. 3: I’m a Survivor
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; lyrical

Song: “Music Is for Dreaming” on Discovering Music: Songs & Games
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” on The Best of Peter, Paul, and Mary: Ten Years Together
Age/dance genre: all ages; jazz

Song: “All the Right Moves” on Kidz Bop, Vol. 18
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; jazz, tap

Song: “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” on Pop 4 Kids
Age/dance genre: 10 and under; jazz, tap

Show Theme: That’s Life
Another one of those “take it anywhere” themes. You could incorporate music that represents life’s special moments like graduation, weddings, birthdays and so much more! Backdrops or scenery for this theme could include symbols of any of the featured occasions (cakes, mortarboards, wedding veils, candles, and so on), or even a house with kids playing in the yard.

Song: “Better Life” on Kidz Bop Country
Age/dance genre: 7–12; jazz, tap

Song: “This Is the Life” on Hannah Montana (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; jazz

Song: “The Artist’s Life Waltz” by the Vienna Philharmonic on Strauss Waltzes
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; ballet

Song: “A Love for Life” by Yanni on The Collection
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; ballet, contemporary

Song: “Time of Our Lives” by Miley Cyrus on The Time of Our Lives
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; lyrical

Song: “River of Life” on Kids Sing Bluegrass Gospel
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” by Andrea McArdle (Annie) on My Little Broadway
Age/dance genre: 7–10; musical theater

Song: “Comin’ to Life” on Chalk Zone: In the Zone
Age/dance genre: 7–12; hip-hop, jazz

Song: “Circle of Life” on The Lion King (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: all ages; lyrical or jazz production number

Song: “Life Is So Good” by Trillville on Straight Up. No Chaser (Edited)
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; hip-hop

Song: “Got to Get You Into My Life” by Earth, Wind, & Fire on The Eternal Dance
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz, tap 

Song: The Rhythm of Life” by Sammy Davis Jr. on The Definitive Collection
Age/dance genre: all ages; musical theater

Show Theme: Success!
All of our students strive for success, and parents dream about it for their children. With this upbeat theme, you’ll end the season with a positive message. Backdrops could include big yellow happy faces, Rocky Balboa (of the film Rocky) standing on the top of the stairs holding his gloved hands in the air, or maybe an astronaut standing on the moon and holding the American flag.

Song: “Who I Was Born to Be” by Susan Boyle on I Dreamed a Dream
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; lyrical

Song: “The Roses of Success” by Anton Rodgers on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: all ages; musical theater

Song: “Success” (featuring NAS) by Jay-Z on American Gangster (Edited)
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; hip-hop

Song: “Success in Your Hand” by Fred Hammond on Spirit of David
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; lyrical, liturgical

Song: “Pink Cadillac” on Natalie Cole Everlasting
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; jazz; tap

Song: “I’m H-A-P-P-Y” by The Countdown Kids on 100 Sing-Along Favorites for Kids
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” by Cedarmont Kids on 100 Sing-Along Songs for Kids
Age/dance genre: Preschool

Song: “The Easy Winners” by Itzhak Perlman and Andre Previn on The Easy Winners and Other Rag-Time Music of Scott Joplin
Age/dance genre: all ages; tap

Song: “Unbeatable” on X: 10 Years of Pokemon (soundtrack)
Age/dance genre: 7 and up; jazz, tap

Song: “Call of the Champions” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Spirit of America
Age/dance genre: all ages; ballet

Song: “Everybody Loves a Winner” by Linda Ronstadt on Don’t Cry Now
Age/dance genre: 13 and up; lyrical

Song: “You’re the Top” by Patti LuPone and Howard McGillin on Anything Goes: The New Broadway Cast Recording
Age/dance genre: 10 and up; tap, musical theater

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