Little Suzie is on her way to the theatre. She is dressed up in pretty tutu, has her hair in a bun, and her mom has her ballet slippers ready in hand. Suzie isn’t going to the theatre to watch a show. Suzie is about to take the stage for the first time in her young dance career. She is just three years old. She has been in dance class for a few months and has been anticipating showing her moves on stage for weeks. Her teacher had told her about the difference between the studio and the stage. She also told her what to expect before, during, and after the show. Suzie has been practicing at home in her living room, putting on little performances for her older siblings. She is full of excitement backstage. There are lots of kids back stage and lots of new faces. Teachers, parents, friends, and relatives are all there to see her dance. The teachers line up the dancers backstage and make their way to towards the wings. The lights dim, the music comes on, and it’s her turn to take the stage…
This is a scenario that will play out for many of you on our performance days. Performance days offer us a full range of emotions. Dancers may experience excitement, like Suzie, but they may also be anxious, nervous, giddy, or seem unaware of what is about to happen. As parents we tend to feel anxious with anticipation before the show and then a sense of relief, pride, and joy once we see our little one on stage.
We at Small Fry Dance Club tailor our performances to the preschool age dancer. We try to avoid the pitfalls that occur with this age group at traditional recitals. There is no endless waiting back stage and no 2 hour long recitals. We have created our preschool program and performances to be separate from our older dancers. That is what sets Small Fry apart from other studios. Having produced shows for 10 years now we know (mostly) what to expect. However we are working with preschool age dancers, and they are by nature, unpredictable.
Below we have list the 4 most common types of dancers we see on stage during our shows. We have also added some tips to help you better prepare your little one for their next, or first, performance. Enjoy!
Be sure to scroll below down to read our 5 tips!
Most dancers will fall into this category. Performers seems ready to take the stage when they arrive at the theatre. They are excited to be there, and seem to know what to expect. In many cases these are the kids that have done our shows more than once. In our shows the kids come out one at a time at the beginning for their moment in the spot light. (HINT: Makes for a great picture) The performers will come out with big smiles on their faces, and a confident stride. They will give a big wave to the crowd, and take their place in their lines. The performers will follow along with the teacher on stage and do most, if not all, the movement.
Within the performer group there are always a few dancers that won’t be shy AT ALL. They will yell hello to their parents from the stage, come up with their own dance while everyone else follows along with the teacher, and generally try to steal the show. (which we love). The funny part is, we can’t predict which kids will be THAT comfortable on stage. Sometimes the kids in class that are always active, always at the front of the line, always participating, will get on stage, and freeze. It also happens that kids in class that are shy and quiet, will get on stage with huge smiles on their faces, push to be in the front row, and dance their booties off! You just never know what to expect.
Sometimes a child will get on stage, take their spot, and just watch. Give them some popcorn, and they’re set! It’s not uncommon especially for first time performers to do this. Some will sit and stare at everyone else dancing for one or two songs before joining in with the group. Others decide they will just watch the entire thing. If this happens to your dancer, know that it is okay! At this age, just getting on stage is half the battle! The fact that they didn’t run off stage crying is a win, and something you can build on towards their next performance. They are in a new setting, with lots of new faces, lights and sounds. It’s a lot to take in for a three year old. It takes guts to be on stage in front of a crowd, remind them how proud you are that they got out there!
THE ANXIOUS DANCER
As we stated above, being on stage in front of a crowd takes guts! For a preschooler, being on stage for the first time can be overwhelming. Your dancer may have last second butterflies, and refuse to get on stage with the rest of the group. Your dancer may get on stage, and start crying. It does happen, but it is more rare than you might imagine. In these cases our staff will try to comfort the dancer, get them on stage, and maybe just hold their hand throughout the performance. When needed we invite moms or dads into the wings to help comfort their child as well. We know that this is what give you as parents anxiety. Remember that many of our staff are also parents with young kids, some of whom dance with us. We will do our best to make sure your dancer is comfortable either on stage or if needed, in the wings. If it comforts some of you to know, we only see average of 2-3 kids cry out of the 160+ that take the stage on show days. Again, if it does happen to you, just be supportive, and let them know how proud you are that they tried to get on stage. They can always try again!
We’ve all seen the viral Youtube videos of kids that just steal the show. Usually this happens when one of the kids goes off script, and starts talking to his or hers parents in the crowd, says something funny, or just starts doing their own dance while everyone else follows along with the teachers. If this happens to you, you may have a star on your hands! Having a child that lives for the spotlight isn’t a bad thing. We will of course, gently encourage any child that goes too far off script to follow along with the rest of the group, but as long as they are having fun, and not being too distracting to the rest of their friends, it’s all okay. Preschool dance shows are meant to be loose, fun, and super cute!
5 Tips To Help Your Preschool Dancer Succeed On Stage
This is something we address with all our families in the weeks leading up to a performance.
- Get to class. This may seem obvious, but many dancers that don’t do well on stage are also the ones that miss a lot of weekly classes. Getting to know your teacher, the choreography, other dancers, and even other staff that will be present on show days can go a long way.
- Practice at home. For a preschool age dancer, practicing at home means something different than say, a 12 year old. Practicing needs to be more of a game. Let them use their imagination. Have them put on shows for you at home, in the living room for friends and family. Give them a big applause and let them get excited about the performance.
- Let your dancer teach YOU the dance. Letting your dancer play “teacher” can go a long way towards making them feel confident that they know the moves (even if they get them wrong). It’s okay if they don’t do all the move right, just follow along and copy what they do. It helps to get the list of songs, which we email to all families, and create that playlist at home. They will have multiple teachers on stage on show day to help them get through the dances. Just be the student. 🙂
- Play the music. Sometimes it just helps to reinforce the dances by playing the songs at home or in the car. No need to dance everytime, but your dancer will start to associate the moves the more they hear the songs from class.
- Attend a show. If the timing happens to work out, attending a play, recital, or musical in the weeks leading up to their own show is a great way to introduce the stage. It will help give them a sense of what to expect on show day. You can talk about the crowds, the performers, the lights, the backstage area, etc. You can even tell them their name will be in the program.
These are just a few of the tips we give our parents leading up to our shows. We hope it helps your little one take the stage no matter where you dance!
To learn more about our programs and to sign up for your FREE TRIAL, visit www.SmallFryDanceClub.com