Should you dance in your own recital?
I know it may not be everyone’s jam to perform in their own show. The recital, after all, is about the kids and we certainly don’t need to add another thing to our to-do list. But, I want to offer a different perspective, share some helpful tips, and encourage you to get on that big stage next time around!
The number one reason you should be performing in your recital is to SET THE EXAMPLE. We can talk “the talk” all we want, but if we want our students to encompass all that is necessary to become a successful dancer, performer, entertainer, artist, and human being, we must show them.
When we perform, we show our students…
- The power of a strong technical foundation. Showing your students that a strong technical foundation can lead to decades of performing is a great example of why they should take their technical training seriously. Even though we probably don’t get to take class as often (if at all) anymore, we can still work that turn out. Maybe our leg doesn’t get as high as it used to, but a strong foundation will still shine through. The ONLY reason we can still dance well into our 40s, 50s, and beyond, is because we have a solid foundation.
They think “Wow, Miss A has a really pretty arabesque. I’m going to work harder in class so I can be like Miss A when I grow up.”
- Mistakes happen. Yep… even to the pros. When mistakes happen on stage, we show our dancers how to get up and keep moving. We don’t miss a beat and we keep on smiling!
They think “Wow, Miss A messed up and she just kept going. I can do that too!”
- What performance quality really means. Even if you’re not a strong technical dancer, you can still shine on stage. Your students will take notice of how you connect with the audience, the emotion and story you portray, how you always look up and project out, and how the energy flows through every fiber inside of you and radiates the space around you.
They think “Wow, I like watching Miss A dance. I want to perform like her.”
- Proper rehearsal etiquette. Showing up on time, being prepared with costumes and make-up/hair supplies, staying quiet while the technical team works on lighting cues, spacing through the dance on your own or with each other, working quietly through the choreography in your head, being ready when needed, etc… shows your students how professionals behave during the rehearsal process.
They think “Wow, even Miss A is quiet on stage, I should be quiet too.”
- How a team works. When the pros are working together, students observe how you speak to one another, help each other with choreography, and give and accept feedback. These are crucial attributes for successful communication in life.
They think, “Wow, Miss B told Miss A that she was using the wrong arm and Miss A didn’t get mad at her. She thanked her!”
Time is probably the biggest factor keeping many teachers out of the spotlight. Consider performing choreography that has already been created. We choose dances from past recitals. As you can imagine, our students get excited to see our interpretation of their old dances. Using recital videos, we learn the choreography on our own, then come together for 2-3 hours to rehearse. Remember, we are professionals performing choreography intended for our students… It's less stressful for us but really special for the students who were in the dance and those who remember the dance from previous years. Parents love it too!
To build suspense and add an extra touch of fun, let your students vote on the style you will perform. In the past, we created ballots of four different styles. The dancers choose the style they want to see us perform and add a dance request (if they have one). They don’t know which style won UNTIL the rehearsal. It is a fun surprise!
Lastly, your dance families WANT to see you on stage. If you were lucky enough to see your teachers perform, you know the magic it creates inside a little dancer’s heart. I specifically remember watching my “Miss A” perform when I was little. It is one of the reasons I got into this biz. I thought, “I want to be just like her!” Fast forward and here I am planting those same seeds in my dancers’ dreams. How cool is that!?!?
Andrea Trench is dedicated to helping dance teachers create and deliver content that is research-based and developmentally appropriate for children under the age of 6. Her primary focus is classroom management, conceptual teaching, and foundational movement skill development in early childhood dance education. In addition, Andrea uses her 12 years of experience as a partner in a dance studio to inspire, equip, and empower educators.