At our recitals, we always have onstage assistants for our intro and mini dancers. (The age range for these classes is 2 1/2- to 5 1/2-year-olds.) Our onstage assistants are usually 9- to 12-year-old junior/intermediate competition dancers—their height makes them less obvious than having an adult onstage.
The assistants lead the little ones on and offstage, and they demonstrate the choreography in the left and right corners of the stage. Often, they’ll say the next step of the choreography out loud so the kids can hear them. Having assistants onstage also means they maintain control of any free-spirited young dancers who decide to take a stroll.
So that their presence onstage doesn’t look too distracting, we try to dress assistants in a costume to fit in with the theme of the little ones’ dance. As an example, for an intro to ballet class dancing to “A Spoonful of Sugar,” the assistants dressed as Mary Poppins.
In the past, we’ve tried having our assistants demonstrate the choreography from the front wings, but I didn’t like seeing all of our little dancers look sideways for the entire routine.
Joanne Chapman is owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.
Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman