You've probably noticed that Hollywood's hooked on superheroes. With movies such at Superman Returns, Batman Begins, X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 2 drawing crowds at the multiplexes, why not capitalize on the allure of comic books for your next recital?
1. Have your advanced jazz dancers mimic The Flash's extreme speed. Use sharp isolations and fast jumps and leaps coupled with a strobe light to create the feeling of velocity. For music, try a techno song such as Etienne de Crecy's "Fast Track."
2. Forget the damsel in distress: Cast a boy from your advanced group or a dad as a Louis Lane and have a class of Wonder Women come to his rescue. Choose your favorite cover of "Holding Out for a Hero" from the Shrek 2 soundtrack.
3. Create an aerial dance number for your advanced modern class. WIth the help of a rigging expert, your students can become a flock of airborne superheroes accompanied by a pretty instrumental such as Masashi Hamauzu's "A Dream in Flight."
4. Calling all villans! Your ballet dancers can use their slinkiest moves for a nnumber full of evildoers, such as The Joker, Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom and the Green Goblin to Michael Jackson's "Bad."
5. From The Powerpuff Girls- Heroes and Villans soundtrack, use "Buttercup (I'm a Super Girl)," for an upbeat jazz number for your youngest dancers. Dressed in pastel dresses, your students will love performing to this high-energy, kid-friendly punk rock routine.
From the simple to the snazzy, the comic-book theme provides fodder for exciting sets.
1. Set a dance about lonliness and reflection in Superman's Fortress of Solitude with this 'Ice Palace" backdrop from Backdrops Fantastic (www.backdropsfantastic.com).
2. Stage a rooftop Spider-Man sequence by building plywood platforms that simulate roofs and water towers. Add an urban touch with Charles H. Stewart's (www.charleshsteward.com) "New York" backdrop.
3. Brighten your stage with old-school "Pow!" and "Kaplow!" signs painted on your cardboard as an homage to the 1960s "Batman" TV show.
4. Ask your crew to build some telephone booths for a dance about transformation. Clark Kent becomes Superman with a quick wardrobe change, but your number can have dancers working with slow, languiud movement on the way in, and fast choreography on the way out.
5. Borrow a chalkboard and desks from a local school to create a routine based at the X-Men Academy. Your students can demonstrate their super-human abilities in a tap or modern number.
Props & Accessories
4 extras to make your recital extra special.
1. Breakable chains and bendable steel rods from Oriental Trading Company (www.orientaltrading.com) can help you create feats of strength onstage.
2. To represent Kryponite, use green glow sticks, such as these from Extreme Glow (www.extremelgow.com).
3. While your dancers may be flexible, they may not have the stretch of Elastigirl from the recent movie The Incredibles. To create this effect, attach super-long sleeves to a soloist's solid colored leotard. The sleeves can be rolled up when she takes the stage, but as the dance progresses, her partners can pull them out.
4. For a dance about the Human Torch, use the officially licensed Fantastic Four Torch Gloves from BuyCostumes.com with a red unitard. Create the illusion of flames with red, yellow, and orange ribbon sticks.
A few hero-themed songs to get you going
1. The Flaming Lips, "Waiting for Superman": A techno-pop song perfect for a large production number to open your show.
2. They Might Be Giants, "Particle Man": An up-tempo classic, great for young dancers or a tap routine.
3. Sufjan Stevens, "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts": This song's melody was made for a lyrical number.
4. The Ramones, "Spider-Man": Ideal for a creative movement number in which dancers try out spider-like moves, it will creat a flood of nostalgia for your audience.
5. XTC, "That's Really Super, Supergirl": Great for a jazz number, this catchy song has a fun rhythm.
6. Don't forget movie soundtracks. Superhero movies often have lush instrumentals perfect for ballet or jazz numbers.
For an extensive archive of songs sorted by superhero, got to www.urbangeek.net/supersongs. DT