It’s that crazy time of year, y’all. #recitalseason All dance teachers, rejoice – WE ARE SO CLOSE!
As many of you already know, I’m all about a deal and I’m always here for products that make my life simpler, more convenient and ultimately more joyful. Here is a rundown of my most recent Amazon finds that may help you during #recitalseason too! 😉
All of the items below are less than $30!
This is the SECOND time I’ve shared a water bottle on our blog. Recently, I’ve purchased a gallon-sized bottle that is saving my life (quite literally)! For 2 months, I’ve been able to keep this up. Some days I miss the mark, but I can’t tell you how much BETTER I feel now. (Also, some days I need even more. Craziness.) I’m just now realizing how dehydrated I lived for YEARS.
Recently on a Weekly Wine Down, Leah and I discussed inserting elements into your busy recital prep days that bring you focus and joy. I mentioned that listening to audio books does just that for me! Do yourself a favor and snag an Amazon Audible membership. You’ll receive one book credit per month with your subscription. It’s a fabulous deal as all new releases are credit-eligible! I listen to books in traffic, while I’m folding laundry, while I’m resting and when I’m doing busy work! Love a good story!
So, I offer this book to you as a slice of sanity. This will change your perception of your students, for sure. Ever find yourself trying pointless, useless tactics to get your students to behave or understand you? As educators, we need to be informed on what our students’ brains are experiencing as they develop. I’m still in the middle of this one so I can’t speak to it’s entirety, but so far I think it’s a great read that will make me a better teacher ultimately.
Shocker. 3 of my 9 suggestions are book related. I promise we’ll move on after this one! “The Road Back to You” is all about the Enneagram. This is a wildly fascinating personality system that helps one understand their motivations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed diving into this topic over the past several months, and you better believe that most of my family trip this summer will be spent analyzing each other through the lens of the Enneagram. My sisters are obsessed already. Mom, you’re next.
This stuff is concrete in a can, I swear. I’ve been using this exact brand since my pageant days. (Don’t be tempted to fall down a google rabbit hole… Just trust me. I lived, ate and breathed Miss Georgia and Miss America for a decade straight, back in the day. Good times were had by all.)
I don’t know about you, but I sweat big time during recital shows. We’re running around, lifting props, setting up, tearing down, dancing in the wings, shaking hands, kissing babies, taking countless photos, smiling, chatting up the room, basically running a marathon. I.don’t.have.time. for my hair to be falling and looking a hot mess. Because we perform with our smallest dancers on-stage in our class-demonstration model, I wear my hair in buns on show day. This stuff keeps me looking the same way after shows from when I left the house at 8am. You need it, just buy it.
I just went on a trip to Maine with my husband this past weekend for a little getaway before my weekend schedule gets crazy. I’ve been hearing about this travel pillow on Instagram for quite some time now. I decided, “what the heck?” and gave it a go! Guess what! I slept on a plane for the first time IN MY LIFE. I’m into it, y’all. I could see this being so helpful during show season. Have a break between rehearsals? Run out to your car and grab a little cat nap. Have an hour between shows, find a cozy spot in a quiet dressing room. I’m convinced that sleep and water are our only hope in surviving until June. And wine. Lots of wine.
Keep those allergies at bay! Ain’t nobody got time to get sick.
Reference back to my statement in #6. SLEEP, PEOPLE. You need it. This over-the-counter sleep aid is just the trick to help my stressed brain relax. According to the label, it’s non-habit forming, so I say go for it!
As I mentioned, our shows are run as a demo of an actual class. Our students stay on-stage the entire 20-25 minute show, and our instructors put on a show for each of their classes. (We’re an on-site dance company! If you haven’t checked out our sister company Studio Go yet, visit our website HERE!) All of that to say, our teachers need dependable sound systems that are portable and get the job DONE. After I had one “die” on me during the school year, I found this one on Amazon and have LOVED it. The sound quality is amazing! The best part is that this thing is waterproof, so that means listening to that audiobook or my favorite playlist in the shower at the end of long, exhausting show days. Do yourself a favor and treat yoself!!!
I hope something in here brings you a bit more peace, health, knowledge, rest, or practical help otherwise! Comment below with Amazon finds that you can’t live without!
— Cheers! Lauren
(P.S. Studio To Go is an Amazon Affiliate, which means we may be financially compensated for sales.)
If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ve more than likely heard us talking about our sister company Studio Go, which is an on-site dance education company. You may have found yourself asking, “What in the world are they even talking about?” Or, you may have seen other companies out there attempting this business model and (how do I put this lightly?) not necessarily executing it very well…
Today, I’m going to introduce you to Studio Go, and I plan to dispel some myths about our approach to dance education. Lastly, I will tell you why your studio should have an on-site leg as well. If you’re not a studio owner, you may be an on-site one by the end of this blog post. 😉
First, I encourage you to visit our website by clicking HERE! Studio Go is a mobile dance studio committed to providing the best in on-site dance and movement throughout Atlanta, Athens, Charleston and Chattanooga. Basically, we partner with schools, churches, preschools, synagogues, rec centers, and community centers to provide dance instruction to a variety of ages, mostly focusing on the preschool ages. We realize that we are tasked with more than just teaching dance, we also aim to create a caring, nurturing environment where kids can be themselves. In our program, children learn proper technique and concepts of dance, all while learning self-awareness, grace, poise, social skills, and much more inside the comfort of their own learning environment.
The long and short of the company’s inception is that Leah (and I) both worked for a different company that offers the same type of services. But, Leah had fabulous ideas for taking it to the next level. We wanted to bring dance education into the 21st century with technology, current educational trends, and modern music/resources that best serve the young family of today. Studio Go is dominating our industry in the Southeastern US, if we must say so ourselves; however, our parents & location partners say the EXACT same thing.
“I have known Leah for three years both as a colleague and as my son’s movement teacher at the Alefbet preschool. As a teacher in the preschool I have had the opportunity to observe Leah’s professional skills as well as interpersonal style. She is always pleasant and full of energy, with a big smile on her face. In her class she makes sure to welcome each child and provide individual attention. The children love her and look forward to her class every week. The classes include both a mix of routines that the children love and new activities and music from week to week to keep expanding their skills.
Leah has been very professional in working with the rest of the staff at the preschool in cases where children are delayed in gross motor skill development. She has provided good advice in helping us with activities to encourage development in needed areas for these children.”
— Parent & Studio Go Partner Employee
2. Dispelling the myths!
A- This is a cheesy, rag-tag approach to dance.
Simply put, NOPE. It’s all about your approach. Scroll back up and look at our SG logo. Does that branding/messaging read “we don’t know what we’re doing and these are super corny, cheap classes.” Not in my book!
If you put quality content at the top of your business’ priority list, you won’t face this problem at all. A perfect example of this is our monthly preschool dance subscription. It was created for Studio Go initially, but is now used in physical dance studios all over the world. Shameless plug. 😉 Our curtains are currently closed for enrollment, but they’ll open back up in the summer of 2019! If you have questions, email us email@example.com and we’ll fill you in on all the juicy deets!
Whether you own a physical studio or an on-site one, you control your own quality. Your instructional skills and desire for solid classes will follow you, whether you’re teaching a kid how to perform a “tendu” in a beautiful NYC ballet studio, in your local gym, or in a church fellowship hall. WE PROMISE.
B- The kids won’t receive a top-notch education because there are no ballet barres or mirrors in their classes.
This is a very common statement that we hear in our line of work. Let’s talk, dance professional to dance professional for a sec. Remember when I said that we mainly focus on preschool ages? That’s typically the “meat” of our clients. I’m going to say 3-5 year-olds are about 95% of our clientele. In what dance studio is this age-range allowed at a ballet barre? Mayyyybe that’s the case for a 5 year-old at the very end of the school year, who has been taking dance since the age of 2. However, to maintain a proper class for the others who may have started dance this year, most ballet teachers will NEVER let kids this age head to the barre. It’s not the right size for them yet, it’s a behavioral distraction to deal with the temptation to swing on said barre, and the technique that they are working on simply doesn’t require this tool yet.
As for the mirrors, y’all. Y’all. Y’ALL! That’s one of my biggest pet-peeves when teaching 3 year-olds in a studio. Love it, love them, love my job. Truly! But, they are so incredibly distracted by seeing themselves in that massive mirror. I’ve met instructors who don’t allow preschoolers to face the front of the room in class due to this problem. You know! I don’t blame the little guys. It’s quite appealing and interesting to see oneself in that way. It’s pretty, sparkly and drives the imagination to exciting stories and thoughts. I get it! You’re little and you’re mesmerized, but we have a class to run here! Trust us, not having mirrors in our classes is NOT a bad thing. 😉
(We do instruct several toddler classes down to a year-and-a-half or two. Same thing I stated above applies here. They won’t be anywhere near a barre for a lonnnng time. Additionally, we do offer several Elementary classes that range from Kindergartners to “3rd-ish” grade. Keep in mind, most of these kids are recreational dancers. They are looking for an activity to keep them healthy and active. In most of these situations we are contracted by a 3rd party afterschool program who is looking for vendors to provide skills and services to their clients to keep kiddos entertained and busy in the 3pm-5pm range of time after school. Again, these parents are more than likely not looking to send their kid to Julliard. We are there to teach them a new skill, expose them to art, and keep them active! Those are 3 things that are totally possible without a barre or mirrors.)
C- I’m going to miss my physical ballet studio if I leave it and open an on-site studio.
First of all, you don’t have to leave your studio to open an on-site portion of your company. In fact, this route could end up being a feeder program to your studio. Offer classes during those coveted daytime slots at schools and local facilities that offer young childcare. Then, when they “graduate” and are still serious about continuing their dance education, badda bing badda boom… Come on over to my studio in the afternoons! (You can thank us later!)
Secondly, there are MUCH fewer overhead expenses for an on-site studio. $$$ That means higher profits for you! $$$ You’re not paying a power bill during this class time, you’re not repairing ruined marley floors for these classes, and you’re not having to staff a front-desk worker for it either. And those examples merely scratch the surface! You may miss the beauty of your studio room, but you won’t miss paying for that expensive heat in the middle of the winter!
Also, if you did decide to go solely the on-site route, you can still teach at another dance studio in the evenings if you miss the physical space and older kids that much. We have many instructors who work for us up until 4pm, and then they head straight to the studio afterwards! Take our word for it… Again, you won’t miss paying those bills, constantly refilling the toilet paper dispenser and wondering where ALL OF THOSE d@#$ CRUMBS KEEP COMING FROM in your lobby!!!! Been there, done that.
D- How do you teach a dance class in a school cafeteria, gym stage, or preschool classroom?
E- I have no clue where to even start in creating this kind of business.
I’m going to loop “D” and “E” into one answer with a pretty little bow on top. Beginning Feb 22nd, we are launching our online course “Beyond the Studio,” which has been created with these very questions in mind. We will walk our customers through the process from setting up the business, to hiring the right people (they are very different from studio-only teachers), to establishing proper systems of a remotely run company, to equipping your staff to teach on the go, to legal considerations that are unique to this business model. This is a brief overview of the topics we’ll cover, but we are very thorough and no stone is left un-turned from our YEARS of experience successfully running an on-site studio!
More on this course will be announced later… For now, join our waitlist HERE to stay “in-the-know!”
3. Why you should open an on-site studio!
Please refer back to everything above. Haha! Seriously, we could talk about this topic for hours and share the multitude of benefits that this company has had for both Leah and myself. In fact, we have two more blog posts coming your way that detail more of these perks soon. Lindsey, one of our Studio Go teachers, will be sharing on-site dance from a teacher’s perspective, and Leah will be sharing some major benefits to her company specifically revolving around her family life. Spoiler alert. Her family life has enormously changed for the positive since she began operating on-site many years ago!
That’s all I have you today! Thanks for reading along and learning more about why I love on-site dance. I truly hope you’re interested and excited to here more about our “Beyond the Studio” Course. Don’t forget to sign up for the waitlist HERE, and send us a message if you have questions thus far!
I love sharing little tricks that help me do my job better, keep me sane and make my life easier. I’m so excited to let you in on several Amazon finds that are my favorites right now!
Fun Fact: I’m known as the “deal finder” in my circle of family and friends. Is a coupon available online? Can I buy that in bulk and get a better price? You heard of a “diamond-in-the-rough” store that has crazy steals? Sign.a.sister.up.
All of the items below are less than $22!
I’ve really been trying to get better about drinking more water lately. Typically you can tell what time of day it is based off which cup I’m holding – a coffee mug or a wine glass. 😉
Here’s a water bottle that helps you keep track with where you should be throughout the day in regard to your water intake. Let me add this one to my own cart real quick! 😉 #takeyourownadvicefool
You may already be on the face mask train. If so, good for you! One of my closest friends Sallie recently told me that she’s making it a priority to do a face mask and have “me time” every Sunday night. While neither of us can make it happen 100% of the time, I think she’s wise in her goal.
Why not take care of yourself for 15-20 minutes each week? There are a ton of affordable masks out there, but here’s one that I’ve tried and love.
#3: Hair Emergency Kit
Guys, I don’t wash my hair every day. Not even every other day. Ok. (Mom, close your eyes.) Not even every 3-4 days.
If you’re still washing your hair every day either A- you have incredible magical hair or B- you’re not up-to-speed on the latest findings about the chemistry of human hair.
I’ll let you do your own research and decide what’s best for you, but I can tell you with full certainty that my hair is much healthier without constantly striping it of nutrients and natural oils. I have several tricks, but the 2 biggest ones are dry shampoo and cute hats.
Here’s the dry shampoo I’m loving right now. I prefer the “Beach Babe Texturizing” version in the blue can, but I promise you’ll love either one!
I own felt hats similar to this one in about 3 different colors. I wear them out! This one is available in several different colors. My personal favs are the vintage red, beige and black. Hint: They go with evvvverything!
(I’m proud to say that I get my hat skills from the ultimate hat guru, my sister Whitney. Lu ya!)
I am not lying to you when I tell you that I’ve had this book on pre-order since like March. Kate Morton is my absolute favorite author (other than J.K. Rowling of course #truefangirl). If you’re into historical fiction and sweeping novels that take you back in time, buy this book. Thank me later.
She plays with the concepts of time, place and home so beautifully. There are several story-lines going on at once, all in different eras. It’s breathtaking work, truly.
I can’t give you my full opinion on the story just yet. I’m seriously having to pace myself so that I don’t gobble it up in one sitting. Oh how long will I have to wait again for one of her books?! Welcome to my nightly (and weekend) getaway!
I know some of you out there are probably picky about the cleaning products you use in your household. Please for one second, let me tempt you to give this unicorn sorcery a try. Fabuloso is probably what heaven smells like. I’ve caught myself adding it to our shopping list a good bit recently, so last week I bought the motherload from Amazon. I’m flippin’ pumped.
How nice would it be to hop in your shower after a long day and enjoy an audio book, your favorite podcast or a lovely playlist of songs perfectly matching your current mood? Let me tell you… It’s amazing!
After working with little ones, sometimes I just need to hear adult conversation. My audio books are my saving grace some days.
(My sister Courtney has one of these for each of her kiddos. Sounds a little nightmarish, slash super convenient. No matter where they go, they’re a partay!)
#7: Christmastime is riggggght around the corner…
I know it’s early, y’all. But, the temp in the mornings dropped to the 60’s this week and all my fellow Georgians are rejoicing. While it might be up to 81F right this second, in my head it’s December 24th.
With that said, why not get a head-start on your holiday shopping? I LOVE this personalized necklace from Amazon. I ordered one for my sister for Christmas last year with her step-sons’ names and her husband’s name engraved on it. She thought it was precious!
I hope you’ve found something that you just can’t live without. I’d love to hear your comments below. What’s saving you right now?
— Cheers! Lauren
(P.S. Studio To Go is an Amazon Affiliate, which means we may be financially compensated for sales.)
It’s list-making, boo.
This is the part where my closest friends, family members, husband and co-workers all roll their eyes. What an anti-climatic blog post this turned out to be for you! #snoozefest #letdown
I’ll be the first to admit that I absolutely do NOT have it 100% together all the time. I am a Type-A list-maker though. Yes, I enjoy the satisfaction of striking a bold mark (with of course one of my favorite PaperMate Flair pens orrrr Zig Writers if I’m feeling froggy) through my to-do items. However, I’ll let you in on the cold, hard truth.
If I don’t write it down, there’s a 90% chance it’s going to be forgotten.
I love knowing all about the different work styles out there, understanding various methods of remembering tasks, and how brains file away information uniquely. Part of this is my odd fascination with my own shortcomings and successful moments when it comes to my work-life and productivity in general.
All of this to say, when my schedule gets a little crazy, I step in to hyper-list-making-mode. It’s a scientific term. That I made up myself. So it’s not scientific at all actually. Ok, fine. I made it up.
When I’m drowning in one of these paralyzing ruts personally and/or professionally, I find that it is extremely difficult for me to move forward into a productive mode without initially creating a list. I then analyze, prioritize, and strategize. I view it as an ATTACK. That process makes it possible for me to function AT ALL when I’m stressed out. Otherwise, my eyes are darting in 75 directions, my life feels out-of-control, and my mind teeters on the verge of “Forced Shut Down.” (We all fear the wheel of death…)
My best advice to you during this hectic time at the beginning of a new school year is to WRITE IT DOWN. My family loves recounting this mantra that Mrs. Welch, my high school AP US History Teacher and Cheer Coach, repeated over and over. My twin sisters who were almost a decade ahead of me in school (sorry for aging you Court and Whit!) first heard this advice from Mrs. Welch when they had her back in the day, and her message hadn’t changed a bit when I came through as well. *Insert my deepest desire for you to be able to hear the theatrical way she relayed this and quite frankly ALL of her famous phrases. Trust me, you’re missing out.*
Why did she repeat this saying over and over and over in class? Well… First of all, history repeats itself. If we didn’t have records of what happened in the past, we’d keep making the same mistakes again. But, she also applied it to a written code of laws. Those are important for several reasons. Number one being that they create a shared reference. Number two is that if you can read the law (or if someone reads it to you), you can ultimately follow the law. Thanks, Mrs. Welch. I hope I’m still making you proud at 30 years old! 😉
Thoughts are fabulous. Ideas are even better. If we didn’t have creative brains that fantasize and eventually produce, we would have a bunch of problems with no solutions. However, if those abstract schemes do not make it to paper, it is extremely difficult to reign them in, analyze all possible outcomes, work through the potential obstacles, and finally execute them beautifully. Bottom line, it is important to have “brain-dumps” from time to time. Get it out. Look at it. Decide what is most important. Find your answers and then drag them home.
This may not be great advice for brains that operate differently than mine, and if that happens to be the case for you congrats for making it this far into the post. You’re now dismissed.
For those of you who KNOW this works for you or you’ve never committed to trying it wholeheartedly, I encourage you to give yourself 10 minutes at the beginning of every day this week to spill out all those to-do items. Plop down a list of the emails that need to be sent, dance moms who need to be dealt with (bless your dear soul sweet friend), facility repairs that need to be made, lesson plans waiting for your attention, music to be cut, paperwork to be completed, etc. Buy yourself one of those fancy sets of pens that I drool over (links included above) and most importantly, select ONE notebook for this activity. Here’s one with a cute, durable hardboard cover that I like!
You’ll thank me later when you see your co-worker struggling to locate that one list in the pit of her bottomless purse. My dad calls that “no man’s land.” 🤣 Was it on the back of that empty envelope, or in the corner of that crumpled up receipt?
We’ll neeeeever know!!!!
When I’m on the go, teaching class, or in a meeting away from my handy-dandy old-school 1995 notebook, I like to send myself emails. I sort my emails by “unread” on both my phone and my desktop. Those are the only ones at the tip top. That way, anything that still requires my attention later, whether someone else sent it to me or I sent it to myself, it will get done. I don’t allow an email to be marked as read until I know that I’ve handled every action that it required of me.
My unread emails are incredibly low compared to others that I’ve seen. (You know, those inboxes that come daringly close to sending me into cardiac arrest.) I always click the box to the left of my unopened emails and delete them in batches every time junk mail comes through. You. Gotta. Go. That’s the only way I know what’s truly needed of me!
I hope these ramblings help you sort through the mountain of thoughts fighting for your time and attention this week!
Well, team. It’s been real. And your suspicions of my insanity are probably pretty close to being confirmed. Until next time, when I can push that opinion on over the edge into “100% confirmed crazy…” See ya here next week!
(P.S. I’m leaving this little trip down memory lane here for you as A– proof that I did in fact cheer and B– as documentation that I’ve always been the tall chick in the back. I wish I had a picture on my computer with Mrs. Welch to share with you. She’s one of a kind! I assure you, she was most likely the one taking this photo. Raney, Laine and Kristen, I miss these times, ladies. We made it count!) 😉
Hello from Atlanta, Georgia!
Guys, we are so very excited that Behind the Curtains Week begins on Monday, July 9th. It’s time to take you behind the scenes of The Concierge! We figured it may be a good idea to break down our Studio To Go terminology and explain what all of this means.
First, The Concierge is our subscription program that brings preschool ballet and/or tap content straight to your inbox monthly (August-May). Our material revolves around character development themes that help you shape your preschool dancers into kind, generous, thoughtful humans. After-all, dance is about so much more than movement right?!
What’s included monthly?
- 4 pieces of choreography per style (in a “follow-me” format)
- themed playlist
- 2 lesson plans
- parent newsletter (promoting what you’re teaching in class)
- take-home color sheets (to reinforce lessons)
- sticker downloads (end-of-class rewards)
- and plenty of classroom ideas
Our choreography is super simple to follow – we provide typed notes AND videos. Your teachers will never have to overthink preschool classes (or feel extremely repetitive) ever again!
We only open enrollment to The Concierge twice each year because we prefer to operate within a consultancy approach. That simply means we offer our customers a boutique experience. One of the perks is being included in a private Facebook group where we treat you to all sorts of free “extras.” You never know what you may receive: graphics for your studio’s social media, in-class teaching tools, summer camp content, staff training, admin documents… The possibilities are endless!
In addition, the Facebook group is super helpful in providing you access to our expertise. Leave your questions in our group and you’ll have a reply (full of customized help & advice) in no time at all!
So, Behind the Curtains week is simply a time for you to “test-drive” being in our Tribe. Free content like the items mentioned above will be sent to your inbox July 9th-July 13th. All you have to do is leave us your email address to be part of the fun!
Click HERE to sign up!
Curtains open for enrollment July 13th for ONE until July 20th (11:59pm EST). They won’t open again until January 2019. We hope you choose to start changing your preschool program into the hot spot in your community.
(It sure revolutionized our business. Our sister company instructs over 700 kids across the Southeastern US and 90% of them are preschoolers, y’all!)
Hope to see you behind the curtains! Remember to sign up HERE. Cheers! 🥂
Lauren + Leah
Preparing 3 to 5-year-olds to perform on a huge stage, under hot lights, in front of hundreds of people is an ART. Some of us have been successfully (and at times not-so-successfully) doing just that for many years.
I personally have been teaching this age-group for a decade, and I have gathered an arsenal of tips and tricks along the way. Are they 100% fail-proof? Nope. Not one bit. Preschoolers can be unpredictable and as their instructors, our number one job-requirement should be flexibility. I have discovered several do’s and don’ts that are the backbone of my initial approach to fostering stage-readiness in children though. Let’s review!
#1 Do: Build in extra time for transitions.
I’m always shocked at teachers who created formation transitions to quick music with only one 8-count allotted. GUYS, give them longer than you think they will need.
If the dancers get to their spots quickly, great! Have them perform pliés to the beat until we get to the next bit of choreo. Have them go through a port-de-bra with their arms until it’s time to move on.
Some children need an extra second or so to hear your request, process it, execute it, and then get back on track to tackle the next step. Help them do this well by not rushing them. Keep in mind, kids this age can be 2-3 seconds behind you throughout the whole piece!
#2 Do: Simulate an audience.
If you need to bring a whole bag of stuffed animals into class to be your “audience,” do it! Remind them over and over that lots of faces we do not know will be in the auditorium and they are excited to see us dance, twirl and glide across the stage! They are not there to make fun of us or judge us. They are there to ENJOY us. Prepare them for giggles and laughter. This is a good thing! It means they like our dance!
Sometimes bringing in actual people into the dance room helps. This is wise whether you invite folks sitting in the lobby to come in at the end of class, or whether you invite other classes that are happening simultaneously to “share” dances. Having actual breathing, smiling, staring, giggling, and clapping people in the room helps a ton.
#3 Do: Prepare them for the day.
The more you can do to explain the flow of show weekend, the better. Cover as much as you can from having to leave mommy for a bit, to wearing an itchy (but gorgeous) costume, to going to the potty before we put our costumes on, to not eating in our fancy outfits, to what we do if we forget our dance, to what we do if our shoe falls off on-stage, to how we wait to talk to mommy until after the show, to staying quiet in the wings, to how dark it gets in blackouts, to how hot the stage can feel, to how loud the sound system can be.
It is our job to make sure they are mentally and emotionally prepared for what the day will feel like so that it is not a shock to their system. Too many instructors only focus on the physical aspect of performing and forget to cover the rest!
#4 Do: Write a song.
This sounds insane. I’m aware. Each of my dances (for little ones) has a corresponding song that I’ve created along the way. I sing the steps to my kids during class and for some reason it sparks a different area of the brain that helps a lot of children remember their steps.
Pro tip! Create a voice-memo on your phone, of you singing choreography over the music in a quiet space with no background noise. This will help you save your voice during that last crazy month of recital-prep. Just play your recording and the kids will hear you singing over the loud speaker! Now, you’re free to correct behavior and technique around the room while the recorded version of you is keeping the dance going.
#4 Do: Encourage and comfort the heck out of your students. 😉
Let them know that it is perfectly ok to be nervous about performing. I have always said through my own performances that nerves show passion. Embrace it as part of the experience! However, we do need to provide comfort and cheerleading to those little ones who teeter on the line between nerves and fear. Let them know repeatedly that they are important and enough no matter what they do on-stage!
# 1 Do Not: Create complex choreography that doesn’t have consistent patterns.
Kids this age thrive off of repetition. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. When a chorus repeats itself 3 times in a little one’s song, I’ll do the same phrase each time. Use your verses, intro, instrumental breaks and/or endings to sprinkle in some “spice.”
On that note, do not expect a three-year-old to dance for 3 straight minutes on-stage. Find what time-limits work best for your studio, director and kids. Then stick to it. For me, a 3-year-old dance will be anywhere from 1:45-2:15 if I can help it. Depending on the structure of your recital, it may vary. However, even if your kids do more of a demonstration type of recital (where they’re on-stage for 20 minutes or so), still keep the individual pieces short to give their brain and body a break between activities.
#2 Do Not: Space your students too closely.
This topic can quickly merge into an optimal class-size conversation, and that is not where I’m trying to go. Each studio has various approaches to class sizes, based on insurance requirements, preferred teacher to student ratios, studio availability, faculty availability, studio sizes, etc. Therefore, I am not going to discuss exact numbers. What I will do is advise all my dance education buddies out there to spread.these.itty-bitty.kids.out.
If a child is dancing too close to their friend, multiple issues can arise that all boil down to the basic laws of traffic. Give them their own space and it will not only help them focus better on the activity at hand, but your formations will look better overall as well.
I’m not saying to have four 3-year-olds dancing six spaces away from each other because that could lead to them feeling isolated and scared. Simply explore your options in creating enough personal space for each child!
While we are talking about staging, it is also important to tell them about the location. Talk about: lights above us, curtains to the sides and behind us, any stage decor or props that will be out there with us (no touching!), the fact that the mirror will disappear, and how we do not walk to the edge of the stage where it drops. These are all part of the scene for us as professionals now, but think about a Kindergartner’s perspective who does not have these visual cues already stored in his/her head. It is a lot to take in! Keep your numbers or “spots” on the floor consistent at the stage as well. Take a picture of your studio so that you can re-create the pattern at the theater!
#3 Do Not: Dance in front of your children and shout at the top of your lungs until show weekend.
In my opinion, we should begin the choreographic process “smack-dab” in front of our students, shouting as loudly as we want at the beginning. Then, we should slowly decrease our presence in the dance. You may find your own flow that works well, but this is mine.
About a month before the performance, I move physically to the side. After-all, I’m not going to dance in front of them on the actual stage. At about the two-week mark, I stop shouting quite as loudly as before. The audience does not need to hear us screaming in the actual performance. I have seen directors give the strangest look to a teacher who is shouting until she’s blue in the face during a recital. What are you doin,’ boo?!
You may have a group of tiny dancers that need your whole “choreography song” to be sung at the recital, and that’s totally fine! On the other hand, you may have more advanced kids who only need snippets of your song to remember transitions and tough parts.
Either way, begin lowering your voice during classes because I assure you, the monitors at the theatre are probably going to drown you out anyway. The dancers need to be able to “fly solo!”
#4 Do Not: Wait until dress rehearsal (or the show) to have them bow.
Many studios have individualized bow procedures, so determine early on in the semester just what that is for your facility. Expose your kids to this process from the start so that they don’t have the glazed “deer-in-the-headlights” look on their faces during the finale.
Many final bows involved a ton of dancers and this can be surprising to a little one. Explain what it will look like, go through how to hold hands, how to move in a line connected together, how to bow, and what to do next. Trust me, you will be glad you went over the specifics before the big day when you are frazzled and tired!
Well, that’s all folks! Good luck out there, and comment with your tools of the recital trade!