by Susan Bennett
Preschool encompasses a wide age range, from children in diapers to kids soon entering kindergarten. As your older students prepare for competitions and recitals, make sure to consider what type of performance might suit your preschoolers’ developmental needs, as well as the needs of their families and your studio.
Consider options beyond the traditional recital, such as class demonstrations or studio showings. For 2-year-olds, for example, you can create an appropriate performance experience by inviting family members to attend the last class. Have children improvise to a story or poem, moving to what they hear rather than performing a traditional routine. For older preschoolers, you could add a short practiced sequence. Demonstrating skills and concepts in class, rather than memorizing routines for the stage, is age appropriate for preschoolers. It also allows children to continue learning through the very last class.
Prepare your preschoolers for performances, audiences, and costumes by teaching them what to expect. Have a cheerful attitude and use short, clear descriptions. Then rehearse or talk through bows, unfamiliar performance spaces, and anything else that will be new or different. For example, say, “On Friday, parents and grandparents will be coming here to watch you dance! There will be lots of chairs for them. They will clap for you and we will take a bow at the end. Let’s practice that!” Also, make sure to anticipate and provide instructions for any possible safety issues. Preparing preschoolers transforms potential problems into happy experiences for everyone.
Remember that preschoolers (like adults) become distracted by costumes. So if you choose to use costumes, allow children to try them on before the performance, look in the mirror, move around, and dance. Otherwise, the performance will come to a halt while they admire themselves and each other!
Creator of Magnificent Moving Kidz, Susan Bennett has a BSED in dance and an MFA in performing arts, and teaches at Missouri State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance.