Prepping for Performance Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are just a couple weeks away from the recital, can you believe it!?

With that in mind, we’ve created this checklist to make sure you’ve prepared, planned, and packed!  And of course, we are just a phone call or email away if you have any questions.

  • First things first: find a few quiet minutes to review your recital information.  This is absolutely our #1 request because you will not only feel informed, you’ll have peace of mind!  Our team spends hours making sure we’re organized behind the scenes, and we want you to be caught up on all of the pertinent details, especially arrival/dismissal times and security precautions.
  • If you have guests outside of your immediate family who are attending the show, make sure you have shared with them the need-to-know info, particularly about tickets, parking, and audience etiquette.
  • In the days leading up to the show, encourage your dancer to keep a balanced schedule: help them get lots of rest, healthy snacks, plenty of water, and make sure they aren’t putting too much stress on themselves from school or dance.  Even young dancers can internalize outside pressures, and we want to keep recital preparations feeling fun and exciting for them.
  • Label everything!  Add your child’s name or initials to the tags inside their costume, tights, shoes, and any other important items in their dance bag or garment bag.  An easy way to do this? Write on a small piece of masking tape or painter’s tape and stick it inside the item.
  • Consider packing a small “backstage” kit to keep in your child’s dance bag.  Add in any supplies that might come in handy at the last-minute, such as safety pins, Band-Aids, cotton balls, hair spray, or bobby pins.  A spare pair of tights doesn’t hurt either!
  • Remove your child’s nail polish prior to the big day (it can be distracting from the stage) and have a practice session with their hair and make-up.  Not only is this fun, it will ease any nerves you have about making sure they are confident and ready-to-go!
  • Before leaving the house for the recital, make sure your dancer’s costume, tights, shoes, and accessories are packed!  This seems obvious of course, but in the busyness of the day, it helps to double and triple-check before heading out the door.  Remember to leave valuables at home so they will not be left unattended in the dressing room.

And hey, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for being an awesome parent!  We truly have some of the most attentive, involved, and supportive parents (and grandparents) here at SDC, and we’re happy you’re one of them.  We appreciate your dedication to your dancer at this extra-special time of year!

– Ms. Julie

Changing the Mindset Behind “Being Pushed”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At SDC, we’re sometimes asked by parents if we can “challenge” or “push” a child more in class.  The answer is not as simple as you might think, which is why we’ve brought the answer here to our blog!

The first part of the answer is that it’s a misconception that dancers must be pushed by someone else in order to succeed.  We believe a teacher should encourage, instruct, support, and inspire … but not push, which implies that they would force a child to do something they are unwilling or unprepared to do.

When it comes to being pushed in dance class, our goal is to teach that it comes from within.  In our experience, dancers who push themselves will see much bigger, brighter results than those who expect to be pushed by someone else!  That inner drive is what’s most motivating.

So how do our teachers make a difference when it comes to challenging your children to do more?  If the push comes from within the dancer, then what are the teachers doing to develop each student’s progress?  How do they respond to the push?

They pull.

Rather than prodding a dancer along, our teachers nurture the spark that has already come from within.  It’s a spark that every child already has—and they’re in charge of igniting it themselves.

Each teacher on our team is trained in pulling the best out of each dancer.  When the students are pushing themselves to work hard, this allows the teachers to hone in on the abilities that shine through.  They also strive to strengthen each child’s growth areas, inspiring new directions for that inner push to go. This is the push/pull effect in action!  And its cycle continues over and over again throughout a dancer’s journey at SDC.

We strongly believe that this philosophy gives our students the healthiest possible dance education.  We’ve seen the proof that it sets them up for success! 

– Ms. Julie

Setting the Right Expectations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a topic we’ve explored on the blog before, and we wanted to expand on it this season!

Performing in the recital is a brand new experience for most of our young dancers.  And while some will find it exciting, others might be a little nervous. In our experience, one of the keys to recital success is encouraging your child to do their best and reassuring them that you are proud no matter what.  

So, what’s it going to be like when the big day rolls around?  What’s reasonable for you to expect from your child? We’ve put together some of our best advice for a rewarding recital experience with your little one!

Remember that ….

Dancing on stage in front of hundreds of people is a pretty big deal! Some dancers are shy and others ham it up.  However they react, ALL of our young dancers are gaining a tremendous amount of confidence by performing in front of a crowd.  Through this process, they are learning about self-expression, managing their emotions, and gaining a sense of accomplishment.

Strong emotions might occur, and that’s totally OK!  We’ve seen dancers who are so excited to perform they can hardly stand still, and others who suddenly become worried that they can’t see mom and dad way out there in the audience.  In our experience, most of these big emotions dissipate after dress rehearsal. But we do have a few special tactics to calm and comfort our littlest performers when needed, so rest assured they are always in good hands!

Live performances can be unpredictable—and often in positive ways. But you may wonder whether your little one will forget the dance routine or if they’ll have a case of stage fright.  Though those things do happen sometimes, they don’t mean your child’s future in dance is over. (In fact, far from it!) We know we can’t predict exactly what will happen, but we can guarantee that we are as proactive and prepared as possible.

Our curricula is designed to focus on gross motor skills and dance fundamentals.  Our students are being taught age-appropriate movements that align with their physical development.  Don’t expect your little one to perform with the same knowledge and skills of a dancer who is older or more experienced!  Technical progress comes over time as each dancer moves through our class levels at just the right pace.

Success come in many forms, and we do not promote perfection as one of them!  Instead, we talk in class about the dancers trying their best and having fun while they perform.  Success is both the child who comes off stage beaming with joy AND the one who shyly admits she enjoyed it; it is both the child who remembered every step AND the one who forgot a few but worked super hard.  We want to celebrate every version of recital success!

We hope you enjoy watching your dancer onstage at the recital and seeing how far they’ve come this year!

– Ms. Julie

Practicing at Home for the Recital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We absolutely LOVE it when our students say they want to practice their recital dance at home.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, and then everyone in the class wants to practice at home too!  

But as a parent, how should you go about encouraging this?  Is there such a thing as a too much practice? We’ve got all your practicing-at-home answers right here:

Should I make my child practice their recital dance at home?

The short answer here is no.  We don’t believe practice should be forced, or it can become completely unenjoyable.  But we do think it’s helpful for you to encourage it! You might say, “Why don’t you practice your dance for 10 minutes and then we’ll play freeze dance together …  are you in?” (Of course, then you have to follow through on your promise to freeze dance!)

When my child practices, there seem to be a lot of forgotten or rushed steps.  Does this mean she’s going to be a mess at the recital?

Nope.  Keep in mind that the recital dance is a group dance, and so practicing at home is completely out of context.  Your child is well-oriented with her group in the studio classroom, so remembering everything at home by themselves is a challenge.  Remember also that every child develops memorization skills at their own pace. It will “click” for them in time!

What if my child expresses that they’ll be nervous onstage?

Know that this is completely normal and expected for nearly every dancer.  Reassure them that it’s OK to feel nervous (that most people do) and their familiar classmates and teachers will be with them during the show.  Talk with them about building up the courage to do their best, and remind them that you’ll be smiling and clapping for them from the audience. Remind them that you’ll be proud of them no matter what.

Should I practice the steps with my child?

Not necessarily.  We recommend that children practice on their own in order to build their self-reliance and confidence, without mom or dad swooping in to help.  Practicing for the recital is not like studying for a test, where you might be able to cram the material into a short amount of time. We want the recital to truly reflect all of our students’ abilities and progress, not what they drilled at home.

What else helps with practicing at home?

Listening to the recital music is really helpful, even if it’s in the car on the way to school.  Knowing the music is key to understanding the counts and rhythms in choreography, so the familiarity can make a big difference in your child’s learning curve and confidence. (We’ll be sharing music links to you soon!)

Also helpful? Encourage your child to ask questions if they’re not sure about something in the dance! Our teachers welcome their communication so we can make sure everyone feels confident.  

The excitement for recital is HUGE for some dancers and a little scary for others.  Keep the conversation going at home by supporting your dancer’s efforts to practice without any added pressure.  We want to keep their spirits high and their insecurities low!

– Ms. Julie

Building Confidence with Dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance is the ultimate performing art, and dancing onstage at the recital serves as a powerful tool for building a child’s confidence in themselves—a confidence that easily carries over into a dancer’s home life, schoolwork, and friendships.

So how can one special event create such a big difference?  Well, it’s not just about that day.  It’s also about the process leading up to it, followed by the culmination of all that hard work.

In our experience at SDC, a rise in confidence begins with effort in the classroom.  Our students begin learning new steps and choreography, and as they make the effort to execute those skills, their confidence builds.  With compliments and corrections from the teacher, each dancer becomes more determined to improve.

In some dancers this confidence boost comes easily over time, but in others it can be more daunting.  For example, sometimes there’s a student who feels down on themselves when they aren’t learning a step or concept fast enough.  We teach them that everyone learns at their own pace, and with their continued practice and perseverance, they’ll make progress.  And when that student begins to see their effort paying off, their confidence soars!  Overcoming that temporary “slump” actually helped them see that they can rely on themselves and be stronger for it.

As we get closer and closer to the Spring Concert and the choreography for each recital routine is complete, we’ll usually see a spike in confidence along with their excitement for the big day.  The more these kids practice, the more assured they become.  They can also begin to picture themselves performing, and that visualization inspires them from the inside out.

Of course when recital day is finally here, sometimes shyness, nerves, or anxiety can make a dancer’s confidence waver.  But if they’ve already built up their “confidence muscles” in class, they can quickly conquer those fears and dance onstage with no worries at all.  We’ve seen many students over the years who’ve overcome their stage fright—and then never want to leave the stage!

One of the most magical confidence-boosting moments for a performer is hearing the audience applaud, knowing that family and friends are there!  It tells the dancers hey are appreciated for dancing their hearts out.  It is such a rewarding feeling to realize that your hard work has paid off, and that the audience loved your performance.

The pride our students feel in themselves at that moment is well-earned.  The sense of accomplishment after getting out there and performing is a triumphant feeling like no other, and it’s not an exaggeration to say we’ve seen it transform lives.  The confidence our students develop is truly one of the most valuable benefits there is when it comes to the recital!

– Ms. Julie

Teamwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s an invaluable life skill that everyone needs?  Teamwork!  And dancers must do a lot of it.  By working with their classmates on a group performance for the recital, our dancers of all ages learn how to work together to create the best possible result.

As you’ve probably seen in class, it’s never too early to begin developing teamwork skills.  At SDC, even our preschool students are learning how to follow the leader, make a circle, or change spots with a friend—all skills that they build upon throughout the season and may demonstrate in their recital routine.

As our students mature, they also begin to see the importance of reliability on each other—that as a group, they are helping one another pave a successful path to performance time.  The process of learning a recital dance and practicing together becomes just as important as the final performance itself.

Throughout their educational journey, your child will likely be involved in quite a bit of teamwork.  And eventually when they enter the workforce, their teamwork skills will be put to the real-world test.  Being able to collaborate on ideas and cooperate for solutions, presentations, and shared goals is something everyone will encounter at some point or another.  Through dance, our students are already developing a comfort level with this type of work!

That’s not to say teamwork is always easy.  While practicing their recital routines, our students are understanding how to recognize each other’s strengths and communicate effectively.  Different learning styles and personality styles mean that teamwork can be tricky to handle at times, and there may be bumps in the road.  But learning how to navigate those bumps now, at a young age, is a major advantage!  And with our experienced instructors guiding the way and nurturing these skills, we know our dancers will grow to excel in any teamwork environment.

We like to say that “dance friends are forever friends” and we think teamwork exemplifies this in every way.  Through their cooperative efforts in class and onstage, the dancers are also developing a camaraderie and support system.  When our students learn and grow alongside each other, sometimes for years and years on end, they form connections through their shared experiences—and their shared love for dance.

The bonds created through teamwork are truly immeasurable.  At SDC, we have seen just how necessary—and how meaningful—these group bonds can be among our students.  And there’s no better place to see teamwork on display than at the recital!

– Ms. Julie

Creating Lifetime Memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDC’s Spring Concert is known for creating special memories—both for our dancers and for their family and friends.  It is a sentimental moment in time for many parents, watching their child perform in front of an audience!  For most of our dance families, it marks the closure of one year’s journey in dance and “sets the stage” for the next.

After the recital, costumes become special mementos, programs become keepsakes, photos become scrapbook centerpieces, and DVDs often become your household’s most-watched entertainment!  The time may have passed, but the souvenirs remain … along with the personal growth each student has achieved.

One comment we often hear from parents after the Spring Concert is how their child won’t stop talking about it!  The excitement lifts them up long after the curtain has come down.  We love hearing about this kind of enthusiasm, and we hope you’ll keep the dance conversation going at home.  This is an excellent time to listen to what your child has to say about what they liked best or what was challenging, PLUS it’s perfect timing to discuss what style of dance they may want to study this summer or next season.

Sometimes the memories made at recital aren’t the ones you’d expect.  Maybe your dancer became distracted at one point onstage and made a silly face that made everyone laugh, or maybe they forgot a step during the dance and seemed discouraged.  Live performances can be a little unpredictable like this, but with a growth mindset, you and your child can still choose to see the positive outcome.  Like how that silly face was sweet and entertaining, and grandma loved it.  Or that forgotten step?  What a way to show perseverance!

The lifetime memories made at the recital enrich our students’ knowledge and understanding of what a performance encompasses.  They create context for other performing opportunities, such as in theater or music, and they build the kind of confidence only experience can deliver.

Performing onstage is an incredible opportunity for dancers to share what they have been learning in class, and to showcase their progress from the beginning of the year to the end.  Learning how to dance is a gradual process, and some skills take years to fully master—but however big or small the steps are, it is a major accomplishment for anyone to perform in front of hundreds of people!  All the hard work is worthwhile when a dancer experiences the high fives and smiles and congratulations that the recital brings from classmates, family, and friends.

Whether it’s a young dancer performing for their first time or a teen dancer performing at the end of her senior year, achievements at the Spring Concert are incredibly special to celebrate.  Lifelong memories are made—and for many dancers, a true passion for dance is ignited!

– Ms. Julie

Putting in the Hard Work

teaching hard work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At SDC, we talk a lot about the willingness to do the “hard work.”  It is a quality we strive to instill in every student.  Hard work, to us, means ALL the things a dancer can do to show their commitment to better themselves, improve their skills, and lift up those around them.

Hard work is:

  • Showing up for every class
  • Being prepared
  • Having a positive attitude
  • Giving 100% effort
  • Trying over and over again
  • Focusing on the big picture
  • Doing what’s right

What’s NOT part of the way we define hard work?  The answer may surprise you: it’s talent.  Talent isn’t required to be a hard worker and build a strong work ethic.  In fact, there’s a famous quote among athletes, from high school basketball coach Tim Notke, which states, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

We’re big believers in these words.  Having talent can be an awesome attribute of course, but it doesn’t define someone’s future.  What does define someone’s future is hard work put together with opportunity.  And anyone can develop the skills and habits needed to put in the hard work!

We want to teach every dancer to work toward their personal best, not perfection.  Effort is the goal.

As teachers, we are committed to fostering the traits of hard work in our students and offering encouragement in the moments where someone falters.  If hard work is part of their dance life, our students might just carry it seamlessly into other parts of their lives too.  It’s pretty awesome to see what these kids are capable of!

– Ms. Julie

Taking Care of Your Child’s Costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s nothing else quite like a dance costume—it carries the excitement of performances yet to come, and of course, there are all those sparkles!  For many children, wearing a costume brings out the confidence and poise they’ve been working so hard on in class, and it is one of their most favorite parts about dancing on stage.  

Because dance costumes are made from specialty fabrics, they can’t be treated like regular clothes.  For this reason, we do not recommend washing them.  But a little extra TLC can go a long way!  Taking care of your child’s costume is simple if you keep these Dos and Don’ts in mind:

Do encourage your dancer to find a safe place at home to keep their costume.  You’ll have their “buy-in” for keeping it in tip-top shape!

Don’t allow playtime in the costume.  If something bad happens, it is too late to order a new costume and receive it on time, so save the dress-up time for after the recital.

Do keep tutus upside down on the hanger, unless otherwise specified by your child’s teacher.  This helps keep the tutu fluffy!

If the costume is wrinkled, Do allow it to “rest” outside of the garment bag.  Using a steamer is OK too if you are experienced with one.

Do write your child’s name or initials on the label of their costume, tights, and shoes.  This is a tremendous help if anything is lost or left behind.

Don’t forget that costumes are not custom-made, so small alterations (such as tacking straps or hemming pants) may be needed.  We include alterations in your Performance Package, so you can bring your child to meet with our seamstress on February 23rd and March 2nd.

Do make sure the costume is ready to go for Photo Week, which is April 1st-6th.  Make sure it is not crumpled or missing anything, and bring it with you in its garment bag.

If you ever have a question about the best way to store or care for a specific dance costume, please ask!  We’re happy to help!

– Ms. Julie

What is the Spring Concert?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve heard us talking about it.  You know it’s important.  You’ve seen it mentioned EVERYWHERE  You know there’s a lot of excitement around it … but what exactly IS the Spring Concert?

Just as soccer players have tournaments, football players have games, and gymnasts have meets, dancers have performances!  And ours is called the Spring Concert—better known to most people as “the recital.”

The recital is a memorable opportunity for our students to showcase their talents onstage.  From learning the first eight-count of choreography in class to the final bow onstage, the recital is one of the biggest highlights of a dancer’s year!

Consider this blog post your “recital primer,” where we break down a few key elements of what to expect these next few months—and why it’s all so important.

  • Choreography

Each class learns a particular routine to perform at the recital.  The choreography is the series of steps, patterns, and formations the teacher creates for each unique routine.  Your dancer will be learning and practicing this choreography during class time leading up to the recital.  This repetition allows our students to grow their confidence as well as their skills.

  • Costumes, Hair, and Makeup

Because dance is a performing art, this is where the “performance” aspect truly comes together!  As you’ve seen, each class will have a costume to wear onstage for their routine.  We will also be communicating specific instructions regarding their hairstyle and stage makeup.  These three things are the finishing touches that complete a performer’s look!

  • Dress Rehearsal

Prior to the recital, each class will have the chance to participate in our dress rehearsal.  The dress rehearsal is almost like the recital itself, except it’s just for practice.  It allows us the chance to rehearse our sound and lighting cues from backstage and helps us make sure the dancers are familiar with their new surroundings.

  • Performance

This is it!  After all the preparation and practice, this is each dancer’s moment in the spotlight in front of their family and friends.  The buildup of excitement is huge.  It’s like when an athlete performs at the Olympics … our students perform at the recital!

We understand that the thought of choreography, costumes, rehearsals, and being onstage in can be intimidating at first, so we’re here to show you what an awesome experience this journey can be.  Stay tuned here to the SDC blog for more valuable insight as we approach the big day!

– Ms. Julie