Americans spend more than $13 billion a year on chocolate, proving that while we may be trying to be more health conscious, we just can’t resist the sweet stuff. And, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out in theaters this summer, now is a great time to take on a candy-themed performance. For your next recital, develop a ballet that takes place in a candy store or soda shop, or dress your older dancers in candy maker outfits and red wigs à la Lucy from “I Love Lucy” and choreograph an adaptation of her infamous candy factory episode. Your students will have fun, and your audience will leave with a sweet aftertaste.


Eye Candy


  • When it comes to setting your scene, use bright colors to keep a lighthearted, whimsical atmosphere. You can also design the lighting to reflect individual sweets (red and white for peppermint, pink for cotton candy) or holidays (pastels for Easter, orange for Halloween).

  • Visit to create your own candyland. Here you can order larger-than-life lollipops, candy canes, chocolate bars and peppermints. For backdrop ideas, check out

  • At the end of the show, have a few of your dancers stand outside the theater holding plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins full of candy to give to audience members as they leave. (Make sure to place garbage cans nearby, so that they have a place to throw away the trash.) You could also have your dancers toss soft candy like Tootsie Rolls or mini-chocolate bars into the audience during the finale—but don’t forget to check with the theater beforehand to make sure you’re allowed to have food in the auditorium.


Candy Couture


  • Don’t just decorate the stage; dress up your dancers as various candies such as lollipops, chocolate bars or gumdrops. For a less literal look, use costumes with colors and patterns that mimic those found on popular candies: Try unitards covered in spirals and swirls to represent candy canes, or tutus with brown polka dots for chocolate chip cookies.

  • Candy-themed makeup doesn’t have to mean a stage filled with red-and-white–striped peppermint faces. For example, try basic pink lips and cheeks, along with a little glitter. At left, New York City–based makeup artist Mia Sarazen used pink and purple hair extensions and pastel eye makeup to create a sugary sweet look.


Candy Rappers


Sure, there are lots of candy-inspired melodies out there, but keep in mind that even if a song doesn’t specifically relate to sweets, you can still connect it to your theme. For instance, dress your students like Hershey’s Kisses and play “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” by Betty Everett (1962) or Cher (1991), or “Kiss” by Prince. Use “Gimme A Break” by the Ritchie Family for a Kit-Kat–styled disco or “Tootsee Roll” by 69 Boyz from the Jock Jams, Volume 1 soundtrack.

  • Many of the best candy-themed songs are golden oldies, such as “I Want Candy” by The Strangeloves and “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. “Lollipop” by The Chordettes would make a cute number for your beginner tap class.

  • Don’t count out more recent tunes, either. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard could be used for your advanced jazz dancers. “Candy” by Mandy Moore works well for an intermediate group.

  • “Candy Man,” sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. and used in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, would make a great modern ballet score.
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