Teaching Tips

Recital Magic: Dance Academy USA

Father-daughter dance. Photo by Lisa Lee, courtesy of Dance Academy USA

Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

Dance Academy USA

Jane Carter

Cupertino, CA

Each June the 30-year-old school puts on a recital that consists of five shows performed by nearly 1,500 students.

Pro tip: "Ever since our first recital, I have included a father-daughter dance. I put together a number that the dancers perform with their dads, stepdads or grandfathers. I hold three practices for the number that really bring everyone together. The students involved have to be high school age, which makes it an extra-fun treat, because it's something the dancers look forward to from the time they're little. The dads just love it. It helps them realize what it is that they are paying for here."

On themes: "No theme. I used to have themes when we were small, but now we are just too big. Plus, I want my teachers to have the freedom to choreograph to whatever songs they connect to creatively."

Venue: "I chose our venue because it has good parking for our audience. Each year I make sure the theater knows where I would like the kids to be released after the performances, where I plan to have parents drop their kids off, and the places that I don't want parents to go. It's all about safety. Communicating with the theater keeps our dancers protected."

Logistics: "We organize the recital so the competition numbers are spread out across the five performances, but we try to organize the rest of the schedule so that the recreational students only perform in one show each. That gets tricky when you are managing recreational dancers with more than one dance, as well as various sets of siblings. All in, we get about 2,500 guests per show."

Costume strategy: "We order recital costumes in January. We have such a large group of dancers that we need to stay on top of it. I give my teachers certain parameters to follow (like no two-piece outfits), and then they are free to choose what they wish within those rules."

Media production: "We do a video through a company that comes in and takes care of everything. Once they finish putting it all together, they send it out to the families. I don't pay them to record or anything; I just give them my clientele. All I request is that they don't zoom in too much on specific children. We want to see the whole group and the whole number."

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