3 Recital Themes With Lots of Options

Hooray For Hollywood

“Everything was from a movie," says owner Dale Lam. “The backdrop was a Hollywood set."

  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Lam recycled Styrofoam lollipops from her Christmas show.
  • Alice in Wonderland: A big throne chair for the Queen of Hearts was an easy, flashy prop.
  • “We're All in This Together," from High School Musical: Boys wore band uniforms and girls wore dance team shorts and tops with pom-poms.
  • Blues Brothers: Lam remixed Motown songs, like “Respect" and “Think," and dressed her dancers in black suits with narrow ties, fedoras and sunglasses.


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Use Poetry to Inspire

Tori Rogoski's dancers wrote their own poetry to be recorded for the show.

  • One dance was based on Shel Silverstein's popular book The Giving Tree. During rehearsal, Rogoski asked students what the book meant to them and how they could relate that to movement.
  • Another piece was inspired by a poem about an autistic child the students read. The dancers journaled about the poem and created movement from their journal entries.


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Circus Capers

Danie Beck divided her recital into three acts: “Under the Big Top," “Our Mammoth Menagerie" and “A Sensational Sideshow." Though she used music from Barnum, Beck says clever, alliterative titles and costuming can make any music work for a theme. For example:

  • Acrobatic routine title: “Klever Klown Kapers."
  • For “A Beguiling Big Top Ballet," she used fanfare-sounding ballet music.
  • “High Wire Honeys" carried parasols as props.
  • “Rockin' Ringmasters" brought small rope whips onstage.

The Case for No Theme It can be frustrating to tie every single recital number into one overarching theme. “Stacey Tookey just choreographed a piece called She for us, all about human trafficking," says Joanne Chapman. “How can you incorporate that into a theme?" Instead, Chapman includes a themed production number at the end of her show. It's usually 10 minutes long and a medley of songs. Past favorite production-number themes include The Beatles, Despicable Me, Madagascar and prom. “This year, we're doing Trolls," she says. “We'll use the music from the movie but include other songs, like 'Whip My Hair.'"

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