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Mar 2, 2014

Recital, Recital, Recital!



So, let's be honest here. Choreographing a recital, whether it's for the littles or for your most advanced students, is by no means easy. You want to challenge your students, but you don't want to give them difficult steps that no matter how times you rehearse them still look plain messy. And then you have to factor in the spectrum of capabilities in one class. You don't want to leave the kids that work hard and pay attention bored, but you can't leave the "space cadets" struggling. It's an ongoing battle between artistic vision and realism.

Here are 7 tips on how to get your recital piece where it needs to be come show-time.

  1. Pick the right song. This takes a lot of thought. You have to find a track that fits the class. For example: I have a jazz class of 6 10-11 year olds and they're cute little  dancers, but quite shy. So I wanted to pick  a song that would pull them out of their shelves a little bit. I picked "Sparklejollytwinklejingly" from Elf the musical and they're LOVING it (and so am I)!
  2. Have an abstract idea of what you want the dance to look like before going into class. It's always good to have some vague idea of how you want to choreograph the dance rather than choreographing on the spot, in class, under a time crunch. Whenever I hear a song there are at least several parts in the music where I have a clear idea of what I want to do in the dance on that music.
  3. Start teaching it early. Our recital is in May and I started giving my kids some steps that would be in the dance/putting the beginning of it together before Christmas break. The younger they are, the more time they need to learn.
  4. Be patient with them. I think the mistake a lot of teachers make is rushing through the dance. This is a recipe for a messy arrangement and dancers who don't quite understand what your vision is. If you have to go over a step a dozen times and they're still not getting it, maybe it's time to re-choreograph. But if the step is particularly intricate then going over it with them a handful of times is normal and necessary.
  5. Keep the little kids' dances short. The last thing the audience wants to see is someone else's five-year-old on stage for 4 minutes. Not only that, the kids will probably have a tough time learning that choreography. For my kids 8 and under, I try to keep all their dances at least under 2 minutes. The very little ones I keep between a minute and a half and two minutes. Keep this in mind especially if you're at a larger school with many other little ones that will perform.
  6. Have the dance finished a month to two months before. This gives you plenty of time to clean up the choreography and will really set it your student's muscle memory.
  7. Keep it fun, but remember what the recital is all about. Obviously, (especially at a young age) the kids are there to enjoy themselves but the whole point of a recital is to show the parents what their kids have learned. So make sure the kids are having fun up there, but make sure you're really showcasing their abilities and demonstrating the things you taught them over the year.
What advice do you have for teaching recitals? Tell us in a comment below!

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

Rhiannon -

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