Read our original post on this subject here!
At SRL Irish Dance Academy, our annual Showcase (aka our end of the year recital) is just around the corner! We have more first time Showcase participants than ever this year—both because of our bounty of new students, and the pandemic having paused the tradition for two years. We’re here to provide some tips that will hopefully help our dancers (and, by extension, their parents,) have a stress-free and fun time during this performance that’s more celebration than anything else!
First off, we make sure to frame the recital in a casual way, and recommend you do so at home, too! We don’t stress this being a big, cumulative performance, but rather talk about it as a fun, low-key way for our dancers to share the skills they’ve learned this year (and the joy of dance) with friends and family. The audience isn’t the focus of the conversation—the dancer is! When they practice in class, we emphasize the importance of doing our best and showing our best skills, looking straight ahead and focusing on technique—not who’s watching them.
However, the audience is there and the dancers, no matter how little, will realize it eventually. Just make sure they remember—this isn’t any audience, it’s a friendly audience! It’s an auditorium full of moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and grandparents and friends that are there to do one thing: cheer each and every dancer on. Mistakes will happen, but no one in the audience will mind—they’re there to support and know that everyone on that stage is learning! Your dancer’s expectation of their self is likely higher than yours, just make sure they know that!
And if they’re still feeling nervous? Practice makes perfect isn’t just a saying! There’s lots of way in this last week or so before the performance to help soothe their nerves. First off, try to make sure there’s no mirrors around while they’re practicing, so they can get used to an environment without them. However, feel free to record them performing for them to watch back—self-critique is an important skill to practice, and this is a fantastic opportunity. Lastly, try to work up a “mock audience”—this may be just your family, all their stuffed animals, or some friends from the neighborhood—the key is to help them treat the practice like the performance so it will feel normal day of.
But our biggest tip? Don’t stress it! When you talk with your dancer about performing the emphasis should always be on the fun of performing. It’s a good idea to discuss what happens if and when they mess up—after all, even the most professional dancers still screw up on stage—and it comes down to three words: just keep dancing! This Showcase is supposed to be a fun time for them—if they fell down while playing tag, they’d get right back up and keep on running! Framing the performance as just another fun thing they’re doing with their dance friends is the best way for nervous dancers to keep going if they get scared.
Don’t stress it goes for parents as well. Your dancer might freeze on stage, or decide to freestyle, or do everything backward. And that’s okay! It doesn’t mean they’re not learning in class, or not cut out for dance, or not cut out for performing—and we can guarantee there’s no mess up that will scar them for life. It’s important for both of you to remember this is the beginning of the road, emphasizing the achievement of going out on stage no matter what happens, and helping build their confidence on that bedrock. We have parents every year that swear their dancer is too shy or not ready—only to have that dancer go out on stage, and come back more independent, confidence, and proud of themselves then they were that morning. Just like Irish dance, performing is a skill that takes time to build, and this is just the beginning!
For our new and younger dancers, Showcase has a second opportunity in store for them: there’s no way they won’t leave inspired by the performances of the older and more experienced dancers. Many of our younger dancers will have never seen Irish dance performed at a higher level live, and can be a real moment of motivation for them—to see something like an “end” goal. Highly talkative dancers will likely leave and chat on and on about the hard shoe or Championship numbers, while our quieter dancers might show their passion for Irish dance in subtle ways—practicing more while no one’s watching, or writing or drawing about the Showcase. In any case, it’s the kind of excitement we’re looking to foster!
Remember: the doors open at 2:45 pm for gold ticket holders and 3:00 pm for the rest of the audience. (Need to buy your tickets and can’t find the link? Email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP!) There will be opportunities before the show to enter our raffle for some fantastic prizes, the proceeds of which will go to SRL’s fundraising efforts towards new costumes, competition stipends, scholarships, and equipment. We can’t wait to see you there!
This post is part of a series. Read our last 411 post, our recital rundown, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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