Campbell Midgley of Queen City Ballet in Montana calls herself a Nutcracker masochist. “I keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, so I guess I’m insane!” Heading into the holiday recital season, perhaps you can relate.

 

In this issue we share the advice and experience of studio owners and teachers who, like Midgley, every year face the music—mostly Tchaikovsky—of ambitious recital projects. Here are their suggestions for rethinking your recital this year:

 

- In “Recital Madness,” five teachers discuss how they successfully manage recital logistics to avoid disaster.

 

- The heartwarming experiences related by the studios of “A Nutcracker with Extra Heart” show it’s worth the effort to include children with emotional or physical challenges in classes and performances.

 

- In “Telling New Tales,” three schools switch up their recital routines with an original story ballet.

 

- And in “Running on Empty,” we learn that sometimes taking a brief time-out for yourself is enough to ward off total burnout.

 

Assistant editor Jenny Dalzell and photographer Matthew Murphy hopped the train to Philly this month to meet and photograph the gorgeous Arantxa Ochoa. We love the cover image they brought back.

 

“We basically staged a mock class for Arantxa and a few students,” says Jenny about the visit. “But the intensity and integrity that she brought to the session were remarkable. She was really coaching the students—they were sweating and sore by the end.” Furthermore, she says that Arantxa was so genuine and understated about her role with the Pennsylvania Ballet School, which recently reopened with its first class in 20 years. “Matt had to keep reminding her to get in front of the camera. She was doing it all for the girls.”

 

We’d love to hear about your unique take on holiday concerts. “Like” us on Facebook and join the conversation.

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