Spring recitals are coming up, so how can we help our very young dancers to be able to enjoy performances rather than dread them? Some children are born performers and it doesn’t faze them at all to get out on a big stage in front of hundreds of people but there are also a lot of students who struggle with that aspect of dancing. There are ways to make these performances a pleasure for all and if we, as studio owners, are able to give our students tools to help them overcome their fears and insecurities it will be something these young dancers will carry with them always no matter what path they take in life.

Spring recitals are coming up, so how can we help our very young dancers to be able to enjoy performances rather than dread them? Some children are born performers and it doesn’t faze them at all to get out on a big stage in front of hundreds of people but there are also a lot of students who struggle with that aspect of dancing. There are ways to make these performances a pleasure for all and if we, as studio owners, are able to give our students tools to help them overcome their fears and insecurities it will be something these young dancers will carry with them always no matter what path they take in life.

Some years ago we decided to separate our very young dancers from the big show that we do at the end of the year. So often the children of 3-5 years seemed to be so overwhelmed by the size of the theatre and all the preparation going into the yearend show or recital. Having them in the main show also made it extremely long and as we say in Showbiz, 'Leave them wanting more!!' We always like to have our shows no more than 1 ½  hours long which makes it a much easier sell to the dads and outside people and it also ensures that the whole audience stays to the end, instead of just showing up when their child is on. Having been a performer for a number of years I know that there is nothing worse than performing to a half empty house. We start our dancers in the main show at 6 years old and they are only in our matinee performance. We mix the younger dancers with numbers from different age groups and a few company numbers so that the show is well balanced as far as entertainment value. It is also very important for the parents to see the different levels that their child could perhaps aspire to. It is just another way to reinforce to your current clientele why they should stay with your studio.

For our pre-school dancers we do two shows during the season. Each one is at the end of the 15 week session that we offer. It is a great way to demonstrate to the parents how much their child has been able to learn and retain even in a 15 week period. We arrange for a Sunday from around 11:00am to 4:00 or 5:00pm. We hire a community center for the day, one that has a small stage and enough available seating for families. These community centers are not usually overly expensive and they provide a more intimate setting than a big theatre or high school. The way we break the shows down is by teacher. In other words, if a teacher has 4 classes those dancers will all be in the same performance and each performance will last no longer than 45 minutes, the same amount of time as their regular classes are scheduled for. We have four teachers who do pre-school classes but even if you are the only teacher you would still break down the amount of classes per performance in the same way. Each group is broken down according to what style of class they are in, we offer, Ballet, Tap and Jazz/Hip Hop. The teacher will demonstrate with each group a small portion of their class work so that each child will be seen individually.

We may show ballerinas jumping and spinning over hoops or an across the floor combo for Tap so that they can move across the stage one by one or two by two and Jazz or Hip Hop is always a cute addition. Usually each group will spend approximately 10 minutes showing technique then each class will show the audience a short choreographed piece in whatever style they are taking. The families absolutely love that the whole performance is short and sweet and not overly taxing to the dancers. We allow parents to take their own videos and photographs at these performances they also are not required to buy any costumes for it. We keep a number of different sets of costumes for different genres and themes. We tell the dancers to come in their class leotard (without any skirts) and whatever tights and shoes are appropriate. They look adorable with our costumes over the top and at no extra cost to the parent. For the small amount needed to invest in the little costumes it is well worth it to keep everyone happy and wanting to continue on at your studio. Once they are old enough to go into the main show they will be charged for costumes. We have had so much success with doing our performances this way that our pre-school program has increased tremendously.

The key with all performances is to make them palatable enough and attractive enough to make your customers feel excited and eager to have their child be part of what you do at your studio.