Quick Tips to Make Your Recital Tech and Dress Rehearsals Count

Don't run everything full-out. Danie Beck's competitive dancers mark and space their routines and practice entrances and exits. "They've been dancing those numbers all season at competitions," she says. "But we do have to go through lighting and tech cues with them, since they don't have those in competition."

Give your babies longer tech slots. "Our preschoolers get 25 minutes on the stage during tech, no matter what," says Joe Naftal of Dance Connection in Islip, New York. "We think it's important for them to have that time—then they're much more comfortable onstage during the recital. Fewer will cry or not go on."

Let the cameras snap and videos roll Naftal allows parents to take photos and video during dress rehearsal, when students are in full hair, makeup and costume. (Neither are allowed at the performance.) For optimal digital viewpoints, he reserves the first 10 rows of the audience for parents of whatever number is onstage. "You're going to get a better photo and video during dress rehearsal that way," he says.


  • Students should practice entering and leaving in a blackout.
  • Run your dress rehearsal in the show's order to get the overall timing down pat.
  • If you're designing lighting or sound cues during a dress rehearsal, seat a dependable teacher in the audience to keep an eye on students' spacing, energy, timing and precision.
  • Assign a veteran backstage dresser to keep track and warn you of any surprisingly quick costume changes.

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Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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