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A New Understanding of Performance













There’s something quite special about the way dance performances impact our students. It’s hard to describe, but we’ll try to put it in words!

Dance is, at its core, a performing art. When our dancers practice their technique and skills in class, it is to gain both competence and confidence. When they practice their musicality and showmanship, they are building artistry—in some cases delivering a choreographer’s vision, and in other cases, discovering how to express their own emotions. Even our youngest dancers are building the foundation of how to be a performer. They are learning what it means to improve through the repetition of “muscle memory,” and they’re learning how to entertain with their skills, showing off their best effort.

Performing, for our students, is a bit like having their batteries recharged. It’s a time when everything they’ve been working on culminates into one big moment; it’s a time of excitement, overcoming nerves, trying their hardest, and feeling pride in themselves—a sense of accomplishment. And then, after the dust (or glitter!) settles, they begin working towards the next performance opportunity, and the next after that.

Whether your child is new to dance or more experienced, suffice it to say that they are always preparing to perform; to touch that moment in the spotlight. Much like the way Olympians train for years on end, or the way professional sports players build up to a match or a game, dancers continually work their way up to a much-anticipated performance time.

As we found out last spring, dance performances earned new meaning beyond what we were accustomed to for “recital.” When the pandemic set in, we needed to get creative with the definition of performance! And our fellow dance studios around the world did the same, so we knew we were in good company.

Now we know that performances can be anything we make them—as long as our students feel the greatness of the moment. Performances can be done solo or in groups; they can be virtual, live-streamed, in the studio, or on a stage. They can be held inside or outside, simply produced or with the latest technology. The details, we’ve learned, matter less than the experience itself—an experience that can lift a child’s spirits, give them more confidence, prove their grit, and boost team morale. An experience that holds lessons for a lifetime.

At SDC, teaching dance is our way of life, and one of the most rewarding aspects is seeing the progress our students make from their lessons to their performances. The positive impact of a performance is incredible, and it drives us to make sure our dancers have those opportunities whenever possible. We used to take for granted that performances would be held a certain way, at certain venues, and at certain times. Now, we know better. Those certainties aren’t guaranteed, but one thing is: The show must go on!

This year’s shows might look a little different, but how lucky are we to be in a theater for a live performance? Very lucky. And very grateful.

– Ms. Julie


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