Recital day is upon us—Saturday June 4—and I have the jitters. Are my girls prepared? Many of my Thursday evening girls (ages 7 and 8) could use two or three more weeks; I’d say half are stage-ready. I know they’ll all look adorable in costume; smiling from ear to ear and full to the brim with backstage excitement. But when the time comes to dance by themselves on stage, I’m not exactly sure what will happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely proud of each student—they’ve worked so hard this semester and have all grown as dancers and people. Yet despite their successes in the classroom, I suspect there have been some obstacles working against us.
— Time. We meet once a week and class is at 6:00 on Thursday evenings. And by the time we start practicing their routine, it’s 6:30. They are tired, unfocused and although well-behaved, they’re antsy after a long day.
— Unforeseen absences. While attendence is usually terrific, girls do get sick or have after-school activities and miss class.
— A few weeks into the semester, I had to change my music—and thus most of the routine—because another class was using the same minute of Tchaikovsky. I highly suggest planning ahead and double checking that everything’s a go. This change threw many of my students for a loop.
— (I admit, this one’s on me.) I taught the routine facing the mirror, because I thought it would help some girls learn the material, but I did not turn them around soon enough. The mirror has become a crutch.
(Tip: Instead of taking the mirror away late in the game, teach the choreography without the mirror from the start. Another instructor at the school told me: “This year, I taught every routine facing the wall, and it could not have worked out better. One of my students even thanked me.”)