It’s that time of year again: time for studios to showcase their students’ talent and put on a big show! And like any big event, there are bound to be a few (sometimes unwelcome) surprises. So it’s best to be prepared and in good spirits! Prepare your dancers for whatever situation might come up during a dance recital with the following tips.
1. Costume Issues
Whether it’s something relatively minor like a run in someone’s tights, or something more perilous like a broken strap, be prepared with a performance survival kit. You’ll want to have extra tights, shoelaces, bra straps and double-sided tape, a multipurpose tool to tighten taps, and any other items you need for potential repairs.
Hopefully you’ll be able to check the status of everyone’s costume during dress rehearsal, but it’s best to prepare your dancers in case a problem arises during their performance. For minor problems, coach them to keep performing – it will be more distracting if they try to fix the problem mid-dance. If you are truly concerned about how well a costume will hold up, have them wear a nude leotard as a base layer.
iSport’s Ballet section included a list of potential costume malfunctions that might come up, with some great solutions and tips to keep dancers dancing.
2. Stage Fright
Sometimes, dancers can get nervous – especially your youngest students! Make sure that everyone has had a chance to rehearse in the performance space. If you can simulate the performance experience by letting fellow dancers/staff act as an audience, even better. That way, you can encourage your dancers by reminding them that they CAN do their recital piece in front of a crowd – they already have!
Hand-in-hand with pre-show butterflies are those moments on stage where a dancer might draw a blank and forget the next step. Many of us have experienced this firsthand, and know how upsetting it can be!
Dance Advantage recommends reminding dancers that they have practiced the routine, and know them so well that muscle memory will kick in once they relax! Encourage them by reminding them that they have prepared for this day, and if they focus on the dance and enjoy the moment, they will be fine! If they do happen to miss a step, coach them to jump right back into the dance, and shake off the mistake – learning to recover from a misstep is an important part of being a performer.
4. Makeup Mishaps
Makeup is just as important as the rest of the costume! And applying dance recital makeup is tricky, no matter how many years a performer has been dancing.
For younger performers, it’s best to let a parent volunteer apply the makeup AND be ready to clean up a smudge or other problem that comes up. If they need help, you can refer those parents to our guide on applying dance makeup to younger dancers.
For older performers, who might do their own makeup or may need to quickly make an adjustment in-between pieces, emphasize that the dance is key. Their dance recital survival kit should equip them with the critical Q-tip or baby wipe to adjust a smudge. But if they have long lashes that are threatening to block vision or throw them off, lose them and make sure the piece takes precedence!
We found a few great ideas at Dance Spirit for some “recital rescues” like addressing stained quick change clothes, or fast makeup solutions.
5. Music Woes
Music malfunctions can catch even the most experienced performers off guard. For older performers who may be able to more easily recover from a music glitch, encourage them to continue to perform if a sound issue arises. For younger dancers, instruct them to pay attention to their teacher, who hopefully is stationed nearby and can guide them in the event of a technical problem in the performance hall.
6. Unfamiliar Environment
As we mentioned above, it’s critical that performers be given a chance to rehearse in the performance space. Letting dancers acclimate to the stage, lighting, sound, etc. can go a long way towards alleviating related issues.
There are other environment-related considerations, however. Especially for younger or less-experienced performers, the dance recital day can be overwhelming due to the sheer number people, level of noise and change in environment. Experienced studio owner Misty Lown has some great tips on managing your backstage area in a way that creates a positive environment conducive to the success of your dancers.
It’s biggest day of the year for your families. If your students are like mine, they are raring to go! And it’s easy to see why when you consider all of the hard work they have put in over the past year preparing for recitals:
30+ weeks of lessons
2-3 minutes of choreography for each dance
Costume measurements, fittings, exchanges and alterations
Group photos, recital tickets and t-shirts, flower orders and more!
In fact, for every minute of a dance that appears on stage, an average of 100 HOURS of preparation has already been put in before one sequin ever hits the stage. But before you sign off on your dance recital prep, I want you to put ONE MORE HOUR to make sure your recital day is GREAT.
Keep reading for 8 last-minute dance recital prep tips that will ensure you have the best recital day yet!
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
Literally speaking, producing a recital is the act of looking back and showing what you have learned or accomplished over the course of a school year. It’s all about making great memories that can be enjoyed for years to come. The whole recital experience is full of memory-capture elements such as the recital program book, the celebratory trophy, the annual t-shirt and the commemorative DVD and group photos.
In fact, if you really think about it, most of what we promote at recital celebrates what has already been DONE. Today I hope to convince you that we should be spending as much, if not more time, promoting what IS TO COME at our spring shows.
Don’t miss promotional opportunities at your recital this year.
Keep reading for 5 ways you can serve your audience by promoting what’s coming up at your studio at recital 2017.
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
I remember it so clearly…during one of my early years of studio ownership, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my head in my hands, completely paralyzed and overwhelmed. We had just crossed into the month of April and there were SO MANY things that I still needed to do in order to get ready for our May shows.
The longer I sat there thinking about my growing list, the more I became convinced I could NEVER get it all done. That’s when my husband stepped in and did what all great husbands do when they see their wives unravelling right before their very eyes: he sent me to bed and said we would talk about in the morning. Smart man.
Morning came and with it returned my ability to see past the loose ends and make a studio owner dance recital checklist list to get things in order before the real show. And, I’ve been building and refining the list ever since.
Keep reading for 30 things you can do now to have a seamless recital experience four weeks from now.
Download a printable version of the Studio Owner Dance Recital Checklist here:
Of the many hats studio owners wear, one of the most important ones is that of a marketer for our business. In fact, if you think of all of the ways you have marketed your studio over the past year you will probably be surprised to find out just how much time is spent promoting your studio to the next generation of dancers. When I reflected on my studio’s marketing initiatives over the course of this school year I came up with a long list including: printed brochures, postcards, Facebook ads, free trial classes, free dance days, community performances, camps, workshops, master classes, birthday parties, field trips, print ads in the local parenting magazine and various community partnerships.
But if you are only marketing to the public you are missing one of the most powerful marketing tools of all: re-selling to your existing client. Various studies report that it costs anywhere between five to seven times more to attract a new client than to re-sell an existing client. And there is no greater opportunity to re-sell the value of being a part of your studio to your families than the upcoming annual studio dance recital.
Make the most of your annual studio dance recital by adding these 5 Easy WOWs to make a great day-of experience for both dancers and attendees:
Are you looking for some more recital tips and ideas? Check out these other articles and resources from Misty:
Thanks to Chasta Hamilton Calhoun, founder and creator of the Dance Exec, we’ve put together a complete dance recital checklist to help studio owners get ready for their big event. You can download this extensive guide for FREE below!
As studio owners, we know the power that the recital has on your brand. At the end of each year, this is your culminating event that will ultimately affect registrations for the upcoming seasons. The planning process should be taken very seriously, and you should get started early!
Pre-planning, organization, preparedness, and professionalism are essential elements in creating a strong, cohesive positive performance experience for students, parents, and instructors. If people love your recital, then they will love your brand! In fact, if the recital is an enjoyable experience, your clientele will eagerly anticipate the arrival of the event each year.
Looking for more ideas to take your recital and your studio to the next level? Check out these additional resources:
Recital and performance season is here! Looking for an inexpensive (and easy) dance recital organization tip? 🙂
When I was dancing, I always kept all of my belongings in a laundry basket which helped in transporting items to and fro. I encourage all of my students and backstage volunteers to follow suit- when everything is labeled and organized, this makes sorting and organization super easy!
Some things to label:
Shoes (by costume or by piece as needed)
Each individual prop or accessory for costumes (if dancers have every single piece labeled, there’s a great chance they won’t forget anything at home…)
Only two weeks left to go before the recital – can you believe it? Your dancers are probably starting to feel some nerves, not to mention the stress you’re likely feeling as you run over in your head the zillion things you have to do before showtime.
Before you drive yourself crazy running around, take a breather and look at this checklist of the things you need to do over the next two weeks.
Host a Makeup Rehearsal
Whether it’s this week or next (before the dress rehearsal) make sure you hold a makeup and hair rehearsal for your dancers, and their parents if they want to join. A beauty rehearsal is a great way for novice dancers and the parents of younger students to practice how the makeup will be applied and how their hair will be styled. This way, you save the time going over the hair and makeup at the dress rehearsal, and there’s (hopefully) few or no questions before the actual recital.
It’s not just the newbies that need a beauty rehearsal, though. According to Dance Informa, even the most experienced dancers should attend a makeup and hair rehearsal before the recital, since this helps the dancers make sure that their hair and makeup styles are uniform and coordinated with the rest of the dancers in the group.
Have Recital Programs Submitted to the Printer
Recital programs are pretty much an expectation for dance recitals, as they help inform parents and patrons about the order of dances and the general timeline for the evening. At two weeks out, you MUST have your finalized program designs submitted to your printer to make sure:
You have a timely delivery of the final product
Any emergency issues can be resolved
Collect Pre-Orders of DVDs and Other Items for Dance Recitals
If you have the resources and manpower, it can be profitable to have a table at the recital selling performance DVDs, photos and other collectible items. However, collecting pre-orders a couple weeks before the event helps maximize profits and make sure every parent or dancer who wants the extras gets them. Send out emails and social media posts reminding parents to pre-order DVDs and other souvenirs and set a deadline for orders at least a week before the recital. You can use physical forms for orders, but online forms make things easy for both you and the parents.
Give Parents Detailed Drop-off/Pick-up Instructions
Dance Exec noted that it’s important that parents have detailed logistical information for the recital ahead of time. It’s a good idea to hold a pre-dress rehearsal meeting in addition to sending a detailed letter – over email is most convenient for the parents – that describes the drop-off and pick-up process, along with any reminders about ticket and DVD sales, costumes and other important dates and times, in addition to thorough directions to the venue if the recital is not held at your studio.
Need a letter or dance recital information sheet template? We’ve made an example sheet you can download and customize in Microsoft Word for your studio’s needs below:
Have “Day Of” Plans Finalized and Supplies Prepared
Two weeks before the recital – and in the week leading up to it – reach out to your volunteers to confirm that they will be helping out. Make sure you have enough volunteers to cover all duties. If not, you have time to recruit some last-minute helpers.
For some backstage organization ideas, check out this quick video:
Along the lines of volunteers, have all of your signs and backstage planning items printed/laminated/explained/etc. If you plan to have clear signs backstage that point to “Stage,” “Lobby,” “restrooms,” or particular areas of the backstage, have them done and checked off your list.
Michelle Spezio, director of Spezio’s Dance Dynamics in Buffalo, New York, shared a great tip with Dance Studio Life. She puts together boxes of frequently forgotten and emergency items like bobby pins, lip stick, hairspray, sewing kits, nail polish remover, tape, scissors and safety pins, and then places these boxes on either side of the stage and in dressing rooms. You should still remind dancers and their parents to bring their own back-up kits, but these boxes are much-appreciated insurance.
On stage during a recital, audiences see the result of months of hard work. They watch in awe as your students dance gracefully and perfectly hit their choreography – hopefully. But what they don’t see is all the choreographed backstage management going on behind the scenes.
As any dance teacher knows, managing your dancers backstage can be rather stressful. With nervous kids – and teachers – costume mishaps and other various issues, keeping kids in line and focused can be a real headache.
Follow these tips for better backstage management at your studio’s next recital.
1. Practice Quick Costume Changes Ahead of Time
With your dancers performing multiple routines for one recital, they’ll need to be pros at quickly changing in and out of their costumes, along with any makeup or hair alterations. In reality, though, this isn’t always the case. To help them become better at changing quickly, have them practice switching costumes at the studio.
“Our students have 90 seconds between classes to change their shoes and be ready for the next class,” said Brandon Rios, artistic director of Old Dominion Performance Arts Studio in Virginia, in an interview with Dance Studio Life. “If they can get in the habit of changing quickly at the studio, they will be able to do it come performance day.”
So grab a stopwatch and time your dancers in the weeks leading up to the recital – the extra effort is worth it to save you and your dancers stress come performance time.
2. Repeat After Me: Stay in Your Designated Area!
Young kids have trouble staying put in general – add pre-performance anxiety to the mix, and you’ve got yourself some antsy dancers. Your students might also want to wander off to the audience area to chat with friends, or sneak down to the vending machine for a snack. Big no-nos. It’s important that your dancers stay put backstage. As Dance Advantage noted, you have a lot to manage and keep track of during the performance, and students wandering off means that they might miss their entrances or interrupt someone else’s, along with being a safety issue. So, pre-performance, drill into your students’ heads: stay in place!
3. Assemble a Super Team
There’s way to much going backstage for only you to be in charge, so you need to assemble a super team. Gather volunteers or other teachers and assign specific roles to them for the most seamless operation.
Carol Zee, artistic director of The Gabriella Foundation, told dance Studio Life that she assigns the following jobs: stage manager, on-deck supervisor, quick-change supervisor, stage left headset, stage right headset and dressing room monitors.
Looking for more tips on creating a great day-of recital experience? Check out these articles from guest blogger Misty Lown:
Your dancers could be able to perform their choreography perfectly in their sleep, but without volunteers, a recital just won’t be a success. There are so many moving parts involved with putting on a dance recital, from selling tickets to managing dancers backstage. The dancers, of course, are the stars of the show, but the event volunteers are the vital gears that turn to make the recital a true showstopper.
However, the combination of recruiting, organizing and handling volunteers during recital season is no easy matter. Maybe you have a hard time finding people interested in helping out, or conversely, maybe you have too many people lending a hand and don’t know how to effectively manage them all. And how do you make sure you make the experience enjoyable enough for volunteers that they’ll be eager to help out next year? Read on for some tips that will help you have success with recital volunteers this spring and beyond.
Who Makes the Best Event Volunteers?
Your first instinct might be to ask parents to work as volunteers at the recital. However, this approach can ultimately make the volunteer recruitment process more difficult for you. Parents already spend a large amount of money and time sending their students to your studio, noted studio owner Kathy Blake for DanceTeacher magazine, so it’s important to shift your idea of how parents can lend a hand.
The magazine suggested that you instead ask parents to be “parent helpers,” instead of traditional volunteers. Ask parents to help out with duties that involve helping get the kids ready for the show, since the fact that they get to watch their own children dance from the best seats in the house can be a big incentive for volunteering their time. Great jobs for parents include escorting the dancers to and from the stage or helping out with makeup and costumes.
For the rest of the volunteers that you’ll need, check in with community service organizers at local schools and community groups. Alumni of your dance studio also make great volunteers, since they already know the ins and outs of putting on a recital and are usually eager to return to the studio and see some friendly faces.
For all types of volunteers, the best recruitment approach is to spread the word that you need volunteers through multiple channels. Create an online form that parents and other individuals can fill out that includes what tasks they would be interested in doing, what hours they would be available and their contact information. Link to this form on your studio’s website, and send it to parents, alumni and other people who you think may be interested via email.
Also, be sure to take advantage of social media to spread the word that you are looking for volunteers for the upcoming recital. Create posts about how you’re looking for volunteers and encourage your followers to share them, recommended VolunteerSpot. And, as the recital approaches, make sure you send out reminders via email or even mobile to volunteers about their commitments.
Emphasize the Benefits
Recital season is incredibly stressful, but don’t forget that parents, friends and alumni are all dealing with their own busy lives. To successfully recruit – and retain – volunteers, it’s important to keep a positive, upbeat attitude. It makes the experience better for everyone! Begging for volunteers or saying negative statements like volunteering “isn’t really that bad” or that “it’s hard to get help” sends out bad vibes and may turn off some individuals from helping out, noted PTO Today.
Instead, make sure you emphasize the benefits of volunteering to help with the recital, like the fact that parents can have a larger role in the action and can watch their kids and that you’re all working together to help the hard-working dancers shine in the spotlight.
Recognize Your Event Volunteers
In addition to highlighting the positive aspects of volunteering, providing perks for helping out goes a long way. Blake suggested that studio owners give volunteers a small gift like a 10 percent discount off purchases in the dance shop or a free ticket to the recital. You could also offer discounts on photos or flowers, or gift cards to local restaurants, cafes or day spas. During the recital, make sure you have snacks, water and coffee available for volunteers and check in with them throughout the event.
And above all, make sure you thank them. Your event volunteers are doing you a huge favor by helping run your recital, so make sure you acknowledge that you appreciate their time and effort. After your dancers are done performing, you could call up the volunteers onto the stage to thank them, or consider sending out handwritten thank you cards as soon as possible after the event.
Taking the time to thank volunteers reinforces strong relationships and makes them feel more inclined to help out again at next year’s recital and other studio events.
As a studio owner, I have three lists running in my brain at all times. I’m always asking myself the following three questions:
What needs to be done today?
What needs to be done in the next 2-6 months?
What can I make for dinner without going to the store?
(Not kidding on that last one. Anyone whose business is open almost exclusively nights and weekends is sure to have some challenges in the getting-dinner-on-the-table department!)
But, back to practical things. It’s the second week of March, so while our bodies are busy distributing recital costumes and getting ready for competition, our minds are on RECITAL. And, a great show from the audience perspective is dependent on having an awesome act backstage.
Are you gearing up for recital? Keep reading for 5 Backstage Management Tools to make your backstage flow smoothly this year for all ages!
Some people think the “show” is what happens onstage at the spring recital, but every dance studio owner knows that the REAL show happens backstage!
If you want to see a real symphony of choreography, watch the show from behind the curtains because that’s where the magic happens. Changing costumes, fixing makeup, getting kids lined up for dances, keeping little ones entertained until they perform, calming toddler fears, encouraging senior soloists, and finding lost shoes are all part of orchestrating a good show.
And, if that doesn’t impress you, let me tell you this: A 12 year old doing fouette turns has nothing on a pre-school teacher changing outfits and tap shoes on 15 4-year-olds. We may not be able to turn like the teenagers anymore, but nobody can turn around back stages issues faster than studio owners and dance teachers.
If you are ready to up your backstage performance this year, keep reading for 6 Tips for a Backstage Bravo!
You know just how much work is required before, during and after a seasonal recital. It’s certainly more than your two hands (and the hands of your instructors) can handle! If you’re thinking about asking for volunteers to help out at your next big performance, it’s a good idea – if you do it right! Use these ideas for dance recitals to choose the best people for the job, ensure everything goes smoothly and make it enjoyable for everyone.
The Best Helpers
Your first thought will be to ask parents to help, and while they will probably be happy to volunteer, Dance Studio Life suggested you only use parents as a last resort. The parents paid you to teach their children, so if possible, let them enjoy the performance in all its glory. Instead of parents, ask studio alumni to help. Former students can run the front-of-house and backstage operations while your instructors take care of the dancers. Offering to organize an alumni dance will often be all the incentive your alumni need!
You know best what you need extra help with on performance days, but don’t forget the little things. Use volunteers in the following roles:
Bringing classes to and from the stage
Depending on how many volunteers you have, some helpers may need to take on multiple roles. Make sure you have a list of assignments ready to go on the performance date. Assigning tasks is much easier than letting people choose and having a list will ensure everyone knows where to be.
If you do have parent volunteers, make sure they get a job near their children. Dance Advantage suggested having moms coordinate fun and quiet activities to play with kids backstage or adjust costumes and jewelry. This ensures they’ll get quality time with their little dancers and can watch the show from behind the scenes.
Communication Best Practices
It may take a few years to get your communication practices to flow smoothly, but in the meantime, communicate with your volunteers as much as possible. Dance Studio Life recommended you send out a detailed letter to each individual a few weeks before the show. Lay out the date and time of the recital, where they will be stationed, what their responsibilities will be and how they can contact you. Encourage volunteers to ask any questions beforehand. A few days before the show, reach out via phone or email to make sure everyone is still on board. This way you won’t be caught off guard if someone has a last-minute commitment.
Thanking Your Volunteers
If you want your volunteers to come back next season, ensure they have a good time and know how much you appreciate their help. There are a number of different method you can use, depending on your budget. If you have some money to spare, you can throw a pizza party for everyone or provide some desserts for after the show. Another fun idea from Non-Profit 2.0 is to give each helper a personalized thank you letter and a T-shirt from your studio. It’s a small token of your appreciation that will serve as a reminder of their experience and hopefully encourage them to stay involved. Finally, you can create a volunteer board in your studio with pictures from the show or post an photo album to social media with a public word of thanks.