Recital Season.

It is recital season and I am here to tell you…

YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

If you are wishing you could crawl into a hole with a bottle of wine and a whole cheese pizza, then you are not alone. I did that yesterday.

Kidding people… I am a responsible adult!

Day in and day out, we live to share our passion for dance. But sharing our passion for dance means we also have to be business people. At recital time that means attempting to be organized and sane all while planning performances for 250 dancers and 800 of their family members. You no longer enjoy daylight or sleep, and at stoplights you are choreographing to showtunes while picking glitter off your stretchy pants. Fortunately, you are not alone. I have a few tips to keep your cool when the going gets tough.

  1. Make a master list. If your notes are disorganized, you will be too. Sitting down and making a master list is the best way to stay organized. You will be able to see what tasks you can delegate in addition to monitoring task completion. Ideally this is done at the start of the season, but its never too late to take an hour to wrap your head around this giant project you purposely put yourself in charge of.
  2. Take a break. I basically have a permanent butt imprint in my work chair because of the amount of sitting I do, but that’s not really healthy. I have read a hundred articles about taking regular breaks and none of them tell me that breaks are bad. In fact, breaks – particularly outside – actually make us more productive. So take ten minutes to reset and rejuvenate. Maybe even a power nap if you are a better sleeper than me!
  3. Set communication boundaries. Our job is to serve our clients, but if we cannot provide them our full attention, we are doing them (and us) a disservice. The time all parents want to ask you ten gazillion questions about the performance is when you are rushing between classes trying to get three year olds to their spots, costumes to the teacher in the next studio, and music from the back office. Have someone designated to answer questions during those busy times or set a policy for how parents should communicate (email? phone? during specified time frames?). My clients hate when I ask to call them back, but I am of no help when I am frantic and my attention is divided. Set some boundaries and be diligent about focusing your attention on communication when the time is right.
  4. Ask for help. Not like – go to a mental institution – kind of help, although that may be right where you think you are headed. But alas, I am referring to those parents with time on their hands or teachers looking for a few extra hours. Maybe even a temporary virtual assistant. Anyone can buy costumes from a master list of measurements and stuffing programs is not my idea of using time wisely. So do yourself a favor and ask for help.
  5. Remember the why. Take a minute to write down your why. Why is this important to you? Why do you do it? Whatever your why may be, it is imperative you don’t push it aside because, in the grand scheme of things, that is all that really matters. The typo in the program or the mistake with the lights will be forgettable. You will find joy and success in the midst of the chaos because you have dedicated yourself to serving your why.

That’s all I’ve got, folks! I am wishing you the best of luck this recital season. Take it from someone who is in the middle of the tornado I like to call “Dance Competition Season.” One step forward is movement. It might be slow but you aren’t dead yet!

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Movement Energy Qualities

I’ve mentioned this before (and practically every time I teach or adjudicate), but one of the things I always harp on is movement energy. I learned about movement energy in high school, but it wasn’t until my choreography class in college that I really understood its importance. Here’s the thing, no one wants to watch a movie where the actors talk monotonously. Why would we want to watch a dance that is equally as boring and bland?

There are six movement energy qualities in dance.

Collapse – A release of tension; gravity is permitted to take over.

Percussive – Movement is sharp, aggressive, and has a forceful initiation of energy which is quickly checked or stopped.

Suspended – Movement results when the pull of two opposing forces is even. For a brief moment the dancer seems to be held by the air, handing in space, a denial of gravity.

Sustained – Movement is smooth, continuous, and has no accents or stops. Sustained quality requires maximum control. There is a steady, equalized release of energy.

Swinging – Movement is pendulum-like. There is usually a beginning accent or starting impulse, then energy is released as a the movement reacts to the pull of gravity and the effect of momentum. The final portion of the swing is an unchecked follow through along the path of an arc and a momentary pause before repetition.

Vibratory – Movement is quick, recurring successions of small percussive movements.

In choreography, using various energy qualities will allow the movement to match the tone of the music and the story being communicated. We have a variety of emotions through the day… heck, in the same minute! So dance performances should also have different emotions and a variety of textures.

To practice these qualities:

  • Create a movement and attempt to manipulate it using each type of energy.
  • Create a six movement phrases – each phrase utilizing a different quality.
  • Use a variety of sounds to match the type of movement energy it relates to.
  • Create a phrase using each movement energy.

Having watched a lot of dance in my lifetime, I highly recommend experimenting with movement energy! As an example of what this could look like, here’s a clip of a rehearsal of one of my favorite pieces of all time: Reality of a Dreamer by Sherry Zunker.

Also. I can’t claim to have invented this concept, so I am crediting Choreography: A Basic Approach to Improvisation by Sandra Cerny Minton.

Make Tap Great Again

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Growing up I wasn’t a big fan of tap. I mean, I would probably rank it above hip hop… so there’s that. If I’m being honest, I’m really not that bad at tap dancing. It does take me a little longer to remember the combinations and my left foot is slower than my right, but with a little practice I can perform a combination fairly well. Tap was required at my studio in order for me to compete and I’m so glad. Being a well rounded dancer is extremely important to me. And now that I am older, it is a challenge I welcome and accept.

With that being said, I think tap gets kind of a bad rap. I mean, how many “famous” tap dancers can you name? I know dance and I still can only name a handful. Think Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Bojangles, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly. Of course… there’s some Broadway stuff too like the Rockettes and the freaking awesome dancing in 42nd Street like this scene:

There have been some steps to embracing tap dance again – like National Tap Dance Day (May 25), performances on shows like So You Think You Can Dance or World of Dance, and of course HAPPY FEET!

Honestly, though, even with  the recent reprise of tap dance in today’s culture there is still this stigma that tap isn’t cool or entertaining. Or maybe, like me, people just think its hard. A great tap dancer is really a musician. They are percussionists who can create rhythms and melodies with their freaking feet! The challenge is never quite comparable to a more traditional dance technique so on shows like World of Dance, tap dancers struggle. But I say, lets bring tap dance back! Ya know… without having to include it in a Beyonce music video. #MakeTapGreatAgain

Favorite Things: Part I

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I’ve been doing a little spring cleaning and spring buying (whoops!) in preparation for spring. Because its winter. This has encouraged me to encourage you to replace the old with the new. That totally rhymed without me trying at all. This week I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things! I have so many favorites that I need to break it up. Today I’ll talk dance wear and we’ll hit some other key favorites somewhere along the line.


Discount Dance Supply (DDS) is my favorite place to purchase dance wear. They’ve got great prices and a great selection. Need I say more?


I absolutely hate dancing barefoot because I have the. worst. feet. When I get pedicures I always have to apologize. I mean, they aren’t like cavemen feet but they’ve got some personality. Anyway, growing up we wore all kinds of dance shoes and then in high school it became soooo popular to be barefoot or wear socks. This trend has continued but not for me. I was like, heck no! So I wear these Capezio Adult “Juliet” Canvas Split-Sole Ballet Shoes.

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I wear them for every class, except tap of course. But they are thin enough that you get the feeling of the floor without the burns and callouses. I also love the way they shape my feet since I have a weak arch. So yeah, these are my seriously my fav.


I’m old so you aren’t going to find me in booty shorts anymore. That is why I love these:

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I actually have a pair similar to these Sugar and Bruno Bubble Shorts, but mine are Funky Diva brand. Sadly, it doesn’t appear the Funky Diva ones are still being sold. Anyway, the reason I love these shorts:

(a) I can wear bloomers underneath instead of booty shorts
(b) they cover all of my problem areas
(c) they are soooooooooo comfy
(d) I still feel hip and sassy


So, I love sports bras with cute back straps. My favorite ones are from Old Navy (Light Support Strappy Sports Bra) but they rotate their stock pretty frequently. I always buy mine on clearance… because I’m cheap and also because nothing at Old Navy is worth full price. Check out this similarly adorbs KOS-USA Womens Gathered Sports Bra. It will totally give you cool-girl vibes, but with support. You know what I mean, ladies?!

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And to top it off, I love to throw on a long sleeve before and after class to keep my body from a state of shock. I’m totally going to tell you an almost, not really secret… I shop clearance at Walmart a smidge too often. This Athletic Works Men’s Long Sleeve Practice Tee is cheap and kind of the best thing ever. I got a small and its loose, comfy and totally practical. Plus its less than $5.

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But if you’re not interested in men’s long sleeve shirts from Walmart, I don’t really blame you. This Body Wrappers Adult Striped Knit Boatneck Warm Up Top is super cute too.

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I guess that’s it, folks! These are a few of my favorite (dance) things. I’d love to hear some of yours as I am always looking for great items… at a great price! Until next week…

Competition.

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I absolutely freaking loved dance competitions as a kid. Like, I can literally remember sobbing in the car after one competition because I didn’t want it to end. January marks the beginning of the competition season and I’d like to share some lessons learned and advice!

One.

Practice

Practice makes perfect. Seriously people. If you practice pirouettes once-a-week on Thursdays, two times across the floor you won’t improve as quickly as practicing every day. And to be honest, some days are going to be messy. I go to the gym almost every day and some days I just feel lazy, tired, or sick – I attempt to run three miles and I only get in one. But at least I tried. Same for you. Help yourself by putting in the time and energy!

Two.

clean

Next step… clean that routine! I always say this, but I’d rather see straight lines and proper technique then messy attempts. Some tips for cleaning…

  • Run the routine full out one time.
  • Walk through the choreography – about 30 seconds at a time. Review body lines, shapes, counts, directions, spacing/staging.
  • Run that 30 seconds with music.
  • Repeat.
  • Run the routine and have an instructor address notes two to three times.
  • Repeat the whole process no more than one week later.

Three.

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One time my mom picked me up from dance after having some kind of mouth surgery and she was on these pain meds. I was sent home with a costume that day and I never saw it again. So we bought a second one and somehow my mom lost that one too. Then we had to have one made because the costume company didn’t sell that style anymore. I don’t think I ever let her touch my costumes again. If your mom is like mine… or you’re over the age of 12, be in charge of preparing your costumes for competition!

I loved to make a list: Routine – Costume – Tights – Shoes – Accessories. Then I would lay each one out before I put it in my garment bag. If your fishnets have holes (not like, normal holes but those big ones) buy new ones. Actually, buy and pack two pairs. I can’t stand seeing dancers up there with less-than-perfect leg lines because you snagged your tights on the carpet while eating Taco Bell during your break.

Pack your bag(s) the night before and set it by the door. Don’t forget water and food and a pen/highlighter for your mom’s program. Can you tell how serious I am about being prepared?!

Four.

early

Get a good night’s rest and then wake up early. Take a shower, eat a good breakfast, and then BE EARLY. Better early than late. Plus you’ll have time to get familiar with the venue (if you have mad fast changes, this will be handy), do (or touch up) your make-up, warm up and stretch, and ya know… dance. Competitions can run up to an hour early. You don’t want to be the dancer everyone is waiting on!

Five.

Focus

Get in the zone. Take time to warm up and stretch (I said that twice. It is important!). Plug your headphones in and listen to your favorite jams… or the Rain Rain app – which I sleep with every night. Incorporate some yoga and some meditation – including affirmations like I am happy or I am brave or I am entertaining or I am confident. Whatever you need to hear to build yourself up!

Six.

fun

You know. Lighten up. Smile. Have fun. Laugh at the funny stuff. Remember not to take it too seriously. This coming from the girl who takes everything too seriously. But seriously. You’ll look back later and wish you had had more fun. There is almost nothing I enjoyed more as a kid then dancing and I would repeat in my next life… as a cat. Or Adele. Whatever the universe thinks I’d be best as.

Seven. Lucky Seven.

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Competitions aren’t just about winning… even though that is nice (but honestly, I really love winning). Competitions are about the experience of performing and improving. The feedback you receive from the judges is so invaluable because it is the perspective of a professional who doesn’t see you every day. People who might not know you but who can see areas you or your regular teacher/choreographer might miss. Accepting criticism is such an amazing life skill too. I ask for feedback at work all of the time because the only way I get better is by knowing where I am weak. So don’t fret a fall or a mistake. Instead, embrace the experience and the feedback you receive. Apply and re-try.

Well. I wish you the best of luck this competition season. Remember to value every moment and don’t take a second of it for granted. You’ll look back on this time and it will be some of your fondest memories.