Help Ease the Recital Jitters for your Students!

Recital is Approaching!

The count down has begun. Only a few more weeks of polishing steps, memorizing dances, and practicing smiles until the big day. Dance Recitals are an exciting way to show friends and family how hard we worked throughout the year, but it can create butterflies in the stomachs of less experienced dancers.  Here are some tips to help your child feel more comfortable performing their skills.

Practice at home with a video.

I always publish a video on the web for the younger classes so students can practice with me at home. Often times when a student gets home to practice they have a hard time remembering the steps or doing it without the music. With technology these days, the students can pull up their dance on any device and practice with their teacher in the comfort of their own home.

For the older students I ask the parents to come in and videotape the choreography. Often times they have different parts therefore we need to customize the video for the individual who is recording the dance.  I perform with the class doing that student’s part so they have the correct steps for their at-home practice.

Practice gathering family members and friends to watch.

Have your student perform practice shows for anyone who will watch. Gather the audience and find a special place where they can show you their dance. Ask your teacher for the name of the song and artist so you can download the music for their “performance.”  Remember to clap after a job well done.

It is also fun to show your student what it is like to watch a wonderful dance show. Use role-play to perform a dance for your child. Get up there and strut your stuff and if you can remember them, include movements from your child’s dance.  They will be thrilled to watch you dance and will gain an understanding for how great it is to watch someone you love perform.

Read books about Recitals.

Read to your child about the experience. Visit my blog for a comprehensive listing of many dance books about recitals and performances. http://mydance101.com/ms-emilys-favorite-dance-books/

Go to local shows.

Get out there and see dance. Whether it is a performance at a local high school or a Broadway show, support dance in your community. Talk to your child about the show and how he or she is going to be doing the same thing. Discuss how the dancers wait backstage, how they look onstage, and how the audience claps after each dance. Ask your child open-ended questions after the show. What did they see? What was it about? What were the costumes, music, lights like? Was the dance happy or sad? Did they dance together?

Then relate their answers to their own recital choreography. How do you feel when practicing your recital dance? Do you dance together with your friends? What is your dance about? How will your costume, music, lights look like?  This will help the student connect what they just saw to their own performance.

Visit stages to try it out yourself.

There are a few local stages that you can use for your student to practice their dance. Perhaps your church has one, maybe your school, or even there are various outdoor ones that you can do an impromptu performance on. No music needed just let your dancer feel what it is like to be out on the stage with the audience in front of them.

Videotape your child doing the dance.

Whether at home or during an in class showing videotape your student doing the dance and then show them. Sometimes it takes seeing a recorded performance to notice the level they are performing at. Have a discussion with them on what steps they might need to work on and what part they know really well. Ask them if they are showing the correct emotion?  Notice if they are listening to and dancing with the music. This process of self-evaluation can support new growth in their skill level, even with the youngest dancers!

Be there for showings in class.

I always invite parents, students, and other guests to watch during the class time, as we get closer to recital. There is nothing better than a real practice with the whole class in front of an audience. It can be nerve racking and distracting to have someone sitting right in front of you while you perform. Nothing builds self-confidence better then to show others how hard you are working. Be sure to praise the students afterwards for a job well done. Not only are the dancers working hard to remember choreography, but they also are trying to be entertaining as well. This is no small feat and every student should be congratulated for his or her attempt to do this well!

If you have incorporated these ideas into practices at home the dancers should be well prepared by the time we get to dress rehearsal for their Recital experience. They have worked so hard all year towards the Annual Recital and are always excited to share what they know. If we can help to ease the nervous jitters through these activities your student can put their costume on, go onstage and just have FUN!

About the Author:

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Emily Finch is Owner and Artistic Director of Dance 101 in Tempe, Arizona. Emily, a native of Marshalltown, Iowa, began her dancing career at the age of three. Always knowing she wanted to be a dance teacher, Emily attended the University of New Mexico to study dance and transferred to Arizona State University where she earned her BFA in Dance Education. She was the Outstanding Dance Education Student for the ASU Department of Dance and the 2001 winner of the Arizona Choreography Competition.Following graduation, Emily danced with two Valley modern dance companies. Ms. Finch then moved to Iowa where she was an Instructor and Studio Director for her childhood studio in 4 neighboring communities. Emily was a core member of Des Moines’ only professional modern dance company and has performed in Canada and Minneapolis with them.Since moving back to the Valley in 2006, Emily has taught for local studios in Scottsdale, Chandler, Mesa, and Tempe. Ms. Finch has 17 years of experience instructing classes in pre-school dance, creative movement, ballet, modern, pointe, lyrical, jazz, tap, contemporary, pom/cheer, yoga and fitness. Emily is thrilled to be celebrating Dance 101’s 7th season. Ms Finch also shares her love of dance with her two beautiful daughters.

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