Year-end recitals are an important milestone for dancers to demonstrate what they've learned throughout the year. Not to mention the revenue boost they bring—often 15 to 20 percent of a studio's yearly budget. But how do you hold a spring recital when you're not able to rehearse in person, much less gather en masse at a theater?
"I struggled with the decision for a month, but it hit me that a virtual recital was the one thing that would give our kids a sense of closure and happiness after a few months on Zoom," says Lisa Kaplan Barbash, owner of TDS Dance Company in Stoughton, MA. She's one of countless studio owners who faced the challenges of social distancing while needing to provide some sort of end-of-year performance experience that had already been paid for through tuition and costume fees.
Creating a Safe Costume Pickup Strategy<p>Recital prep starts almost a year in advance at Dance Concept with ideation, theme selection and costume previews. Students get measured in November; orders are placed in December. Costumes are part of a non-refundable performance bundle based on how many classes a student takes, and it includes tickets, tights and a recital T-shirt.</p><p>"Usually we pass out costumes in classes, but in virtual land, everything is different," owner Debbi Jo Thibeau says. That's why she developed a three-day curbside pickup schedule, with costumes and accessories bagged, alphabetized and boxed in advance. Her staff wore masks and worked in shifts to make it a fun drive-through experience.</p>
Photo courtesy of Dance Concept
Rehearsing and Editing Choreography Via Zoom<p>When your canvas is no longer a stage but a Zoom gallery view, it means reimagining formations and partnered lifts. It also means adjusting for any student attrition. "We kept the same recital theme, but some of the dances didn't end up being in the show," Schwenzer says. "We had a lot of success with ages 2 to 10, but some of the older dancers weren't participating in rehearsals."</p>
A Zoom recital rehearsal.
Photo courtesy of Studio A Dance & Performing Arts, LLC
Hosting a Live Premiere<p>TDS Dance Company's "Castle of Dreams" recital will be pre-recorded and premiere online, with Barbash and other faculty members dressed up at the studio and emceeing the show in front of a green screen, à la the Oscars. A video production company will host the event on a dedicated web page connected to the studio's online store, so viewers have the option of simultaneously shopping for studio-branded hoodies, shirts and phone covers and can download a digital file of the show once it finishes airing.</p>
A TDS student takes virtual class at home.
Photo courtesy of TDS Dance Company