Advice for dance teachers | Retaining Recital Choreography Dear Rhee, What are your strategies to help students retain recital choreography? This year was especially hard, which resulted in a lot of stress for my students and me. I know I must be missing some tricks of the trade. Any expertise is appreciated. —Mikala Hi Mikala,…Read More
by Nina Pinzarrone
Tip 1: With year-end recitals and Royal Academy of Dance and Cecchetti exams around the corner, in my final column, I’d like to share tips for choosing music that will help your students remember the steps, keep count, and look their best.
Tip 2: Ragtime melodies can be fun. Scott Joplin’s March Majestic (2:52) and Rosebud March (3:09), both in 6/8 with multiple sections, are wonderful for skips, gallops, spring points, and chassés.
“Recital Memories”: The recitals of my childhood blur together.
“Offense, Not Defense”: A teacher’s life is one of lessons learned. Forgive me that cliché, but it’s true. Most of these lessons hit hard, but as you get older—if you are supple and reflective—you might find a trick or two among the bruises.Read More
Sometimes, ballet and recitals don’t mix. Except at ballet-only schools, including ballet numbers in a dance recital can be difficult, especially when they’re part of a parade of dances, all tied to a loose theme, in which dancers enter and exit the stage with military precision. And ballet pieces that are excerpted from longer works can be bland and difficult to comprehend, even if they’re danced well. If you offer ballet at your school, or if you teach ballet, the last thing you want to do is give audiences any reason to think ballet is boring.
So what do you do?Read More
Books of note (new and not)
1. The Night Before My Dance Recital
2.Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet From the Rule of the Tsars to Today
3.Changing the Conversation: The 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution
4.The Ballet Lover’s Companion
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. Please take a moment to turn off all cellphones, and for our dancers’ safety . . .” All of us hear words to that effect at every show we attend, including recitals. For studio owners, that little recital speech is a perfect marketing opportunity. Where else can you address your entire clientele, plus potential new clients, all at once, in an atmosphere of excitement? It’s a time when your students and their families feel most invested in your school—and that means it’s a good time to reinforce those feelings with a positive message about the value of dance training in general and your school in particular.Read More
The Valley of the Sun, a prosperous swath of south-central Arizona that includes the greater Phoenix area, cradles Dance Connection 2, in suburban Chandler. DC2, as it’s known locally, was spun off 28 years ago from Scottsdale’s Dance Connection studio by MaryAnna Gooch, now 72. Several years ago Gooch decided to dedicate the school’s Christmastime show to charity, choosing HopeKids Arizona, a nonprofit organization that serves children with life-threatening illnesses, as beneficiary.Read More
Reality Check: Doing Away With Dress Rehearsal: Q: Do you have a dress rehearsal at the same theater where you have your recital? For the last four years I have, but this year I am wondering if we can pull off our recital without a dress rehearsal at the venue.
“Classroom Connection: Elevating Jumps”: How do we challenge our advanced dancers to improve their jumps? To work on strength and height, I drill my dancers in a progression of simple sautés, changements, and échappés without music. The silence allows students to be conscious of how they manage their weight and use their feet (toe, ball, heel) on the takeoff and landing. Without the constraint of a particular tempo, dancers can also investigate how high they can actually jump.Read More
“Art Thieves”: Today we see cookie-cutter dances that borrow too heavily from music videos, TV dance shows, and other popular entertainment. And at Dance Studio Life, we hear from studio owners who complain that former employees or teachers at other schools stole their competition or recital choreography. I don’t mean the poachers borrowed a step, or the idea behind a step, or a story or theme that they then morphed into something of their own creation. I mean they stole the dance in its entirety and presented it as theirs. Judging by these school owners’ outrage—and my own experience in having my writing plagiarized—it’s obvious they didn’t feel flattered. They felt violated.
“Tough Times: Choosing the Team”: The lovefest that is recital is over and we meet in a dark corner of a café for the annual agony of choosing dancers for the team.
It’s more difficult than it seems. If it were only about technique it would be a snap. Perhaps we could pass out a test and set the cutoff at 77. Would parents be terribly upset if we put names in a hat? Would we?Read More
When I vented my frustration to my non-dancer husband, he asked why we did it this way. Stunned, I stared at him and said, “But it’s always been done that way.” Wrong answer. Clearly everyone else’s old ways of doing “it” weren’t working. We needed to change “it.”
The first thing I did was eliminate the words but and always from my vocabulary. Then I began finding solutions.Read More
1) Cardio Fit, Cardio Fun: Because cross-training helps dancers develop the stamina and strength they need, we implemented a dance-based program in our elementary-age, beginner-level jazz classes that involves different activities each week. 2) Dance Your Name: At the first rehearsal for my recital production number—which would bring together my lyrical classes for kids ages 9 to 10 and 11 to 12—I knew I had to find a way for the two groups to work together despite the differences in age and experience. When I tried out a “Dance Your Name” game I discovered my best icebreaker tool yet.Read More
Shows can be more fun if the audience gets involved in the action. So how about holding a hip-hop battle at your next recital? The fun starts with a great emcee to keep the audience engaged and motivated. When there’s a break for a costume change, have the emcee ask for two volunteers from the audience to take part in a hip-hop dance contest onstage. The emcee should have one or two simple steps prepared to show the participants, such as the Dougie or the Nae Nae (see below); or simply have them freestyle.Read More
Recital time: your studio has worked all year for this. Dancers, teachers, and parents have all thrown themselves into the whirlwind and want to come out glowing. What more important moment than the recital finale—the Big Finish to your studio year’s big finish? What’s the best way to craft your finale and bring down the house? The choreographic approach you choose will depend on the message you want to convey.Read More
Like many dance school owners, Amy Pace, the owner of A Step Above School of Dance in Moore, Oklahoma, has come up with a lot of ideas for recital themes. So far she has planned 19 recitals; consequently she’s always on the lookout for something new. In 2013, she tried an idea she had never seen done before—a fine-arts–themed recital. Calling it “Art in Motion,” she named each dance after a work of visual art.Read More
Choreography, music, lighting, sets—there are myriad details to consider when planning a recital, but one of the most important ways to make dancers look good is to costume them well. Although “a costume should never be the focus of the audience,” says Betty Smith, costume director at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet since 2007, “it should enhance what the dancer is doing and make the movement come alive.”Read More
It’s recital time, and you’ve set up your venue’s lobby with the essentials: flowers, a DVD orders and sales table, T-shirts, programs. You’ve brought out some nice tablecloths and balloons and manned the tables with happy staff members and volunteers. It’s a satisfactory setup, sure. But that’s it: satisfactory and not much else. As you look around, you think, “This place needs more. More oomph. More excitement.”Read More
Sixteen framed recital program books line the hallway at my studio, one for each year my business has been in operation. I lovingly categorize them as follows.Read More
School is in. Another crop of fine movers ripens in your studio, and the need to showcase them begins to tickle your brain. How can you stage dances that display your young artists to the best advantage in recital season? And how can you stage pieces to convey ideas, themes, and emotions in a way that recital audiences will truly “get”?Read More
Today was such a special day. Our annual recital, like most, is so much more than a performance—it’s a chance for all of our students to dance their hearts out in front of their families and friends. From the tiniest preschooler to the teenager with nine dances to remember, they all look forward to their moment onstage where they can share their love for dance.Read More
The beauty of a dance recital is that it’s all about the kids. The downside of a dance recital is that it’s all about the kids. Say what? Consider this: if your recital is focused solely on the people you already interact with on a weekly basis, you may be missing out on an opportunity to engage with your community at large.Read More
Carrie Mazzucco still remembers the bikini she had to wear as a teenager in a recital dance. “That was rough,” says the owner of Infinity Dance & Performing Arts in Boardman, Ohio. “I was not a skinny dancer.”Read More
As dance educators, we all know what goes into making a recital happen—months of work and organizational effort—ours, as well as that of our staff and volunteers. When showtime comes, we see the magic happen from our vantage point in the wings. But what about the view from the “outside”: from the parents who shuttle kids to and from rehearsals, the young dancer who tries on her first dab of lipstick? What do students and parents think about the recital experience?Read More
For many dance teachers, the greatest reward at recital time is seeing the infectious grins of their students as they show off a year’s worth of hard work. But the fact that the performers are enjoying themselves does not mean that audience members are equally delighted. Even the most enthusiastic dancers and dynamic choreography lose their charm when viewers spend too much time in their seats. What should be an entertaining, high-energy event can become a disjointed, four-hour affair with parents questioning the tuition they pay and relatives constantly glancing at their watches.Read More