On My Mind: Impress with your recital

Words from the publisher

Your recital is your best opportunity to leave clients with a lasting impression of your creativity, organization, and dedication to making their children feel special. Think about it: when do we have all of our clients in the same room at the same time? I consider it a chance to wow viewers with a show that delivers more than they expected. My mother, who was my dance teacher, would say, “Your fall registration will only be as good as your last show.”

So what are you going to do to up the ante this year? Here are some important elements to consider:

Photo by Mim Adkins

Running time: The first thing I think about is how long the show is going to be. I have learned that one and a half to two hours is the perfect length; otherwise, families start to get bored and can’t wait for the show to finish; some may even leave. If your recital is going to run much longer than two hours, consider breaking it into two shows. (For more on this, see “Short and Sweet.”)

Production value: Could this be the year to add new backdrops or multimedia screens to enhance your recital’s production quality and help tie together the theme, music, and costumes? If the multimedia part scares you, find some older students who will be thrilled to help you out with a cool PowerPoint presentation or offer advice on other technical options.

Eye-catching programs: Think about how to make your recital program unique. For instance, I saw a recital called Bon Appétit that had a program designed to look like a menu. Another show I saw was called From Diapers to Diplomas; the recital programs were rolled up to look like diplomas. Whatever you choose for your theme, be creative with the program. It’ll make a good first impression as your guests take their seats.

Music choices: Musical diversity is very important. While we all need to be familiar with and use new music, it’s also important to choose a few songs that your students’ parents and grandparents can relate to, and will feel some nostalgia for. There is nothing harder for grandparents than sitting through two hours of contemporary music and choreography.

Costume selection: Choose wisely. Costumes should fit the recital music and theme, but you should also think about how children will feel in the costumes. Children who don’t feel confident and proud about wearing their costumes may be less enthused about continuing their dance training.

Finally, make the show about your recreational kids, not another showcase for your most talented dancers. The day is about bringing families together to witness the results of their children’s hard work; it’s all about them and creating memories to last a lifetime. Make it fun and entertaining—and most of all, enjoy the journey.


DSL publisher Rhee Gold has owned a dance competition, presided over national dance teaching organizations, and founded Project Motivate. His book, The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance, is in its second printing.