411: Recital Tips Redux
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.
411: Recital Rundown!
With SRL’s annual Showcase recital just around the corner (we hope you’ve marked your calendar: Saturday, June 18th!) we’re on the blog tonight with a rundown of all you need to know! After the past two years getting paused for the obvious reasons, we know many of our parents and dancers have never participated in an annual Showcase, so we’ve gathered all the info here for you to refer back to.
First up: beforehand prep! While all dancers should have their costumes all set at this point, we recommend double-checking them now so nothing’s missing day of (no one wants to go looking for a second poodle sock in a scramble at 8 am for that afternoon’s performance.) And parents, if you don’t have your ticket yet, it’s time to buy! There are two kinds of tickets available: the Gold tickets, which allow you in to the auditorium at 2:45 pm to get priority seating, or the Standard, where you’ll enter at 3:00 pm for the 3:30 pm show! Remember: tickets are nonrefundable, but they are transferrable. If something comes up, you’re able to pass your ticket along to a family member or friend! Since this is a private event, all parents have received the link to buy tickets in the monthly announcements…but if you’re having any trouble locating it just reach out to email@example.com.
Now, the big stuff: day of! Dancers should be dropped off by their parents at 11:30 am at the East Catholic High School auditorium in Manchester for the all-important dress rehearsal (Tiny Jig dancers will arrive a little later at 1:30 pm.) The reasons for this early arrival are many. Dress rehearsals help newer dancers (and the experienced ones!) get used to the stage after only practicing in the studio, tamp down their nerves, get in some last-minute practice, and let dancers receive any last-minute corrections and tips before the big show! For our staff, it makes sure we can nail down things like lighting and cues, while working out any logistical kinks. Also, since dancers are backstage for the majority of Showcase, it gives them a chance to see the show!
In the case of our littlest dancers (Tiny Jig and Pre-Beginner classes only,) one parent is allowed to attend rehearsal with each dancer and stay throughout the day until showtime. As only one parent (and no siblings, friends, etc.) are allowed to join each dancer, we understand that some parents may need to drop off their dancer—don’t worry, each class will have a parent volunteer assigned, so there will be plenty of supervision! While dancers Pre-Beginner and above will head back to backstage once they’ve performed, our Tiny Jig dancers will have a special place to sit to watch the rest of the show. One last bit of info for all ages: make sure your dancer eats before rehearsal and comes with plenty of snacks! It’s a long day, and we need our performers properly fueled!
Then, on to the show! The Showcase will begin at 3:30 pm, wrapping up around 5 pm. This is our 8th Annual Showcase and aims to celebrate all our dancers—from 2-years-old to our Championship dancers—doing everything from showing off the new skills they’ve learned this year to displaying the best Irish dance has to offer in fun, exciting numbers! It’s also an opportunity to celebrate our 2022 graduates, scholarship recipients, and do some all-important fundraising for the studio. Make sure to check out all the incredible prizes we’ll be offering in our raffle this year, from Hartford Yard Goats tickets to Bear's Smokehouse gift certificates, and so much more!
The final reminder? To have fun! Performing can be stressful, especially for young or new dancers, so our biggest focus is to make sure the fun of performing is emphasized for them so they’ll be excited to return to Irish dance and all its innumerable benefits next year! While performing isn’t necessarily every dancer’s goal, it can be a confidence-boosting and exciting experience that helps dancers mark their progress after a year of hard work. We look forward to seeing you, your dancer, and your enthusiasm there!
This post is part of a series. Read our last 411 post, all the parental role in a dancer's development, 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.
THE FINAL WEEKEND LINEUP!
Looking for some fun events to celebrate St Patrick's Day? Here are our final public events where you can catch the dancing for this year's high holy day!
WHERE YOU CAN CATCH US NEXT...
Scoil Rince Luimni shares Irish dance with everyone in our community this March and our youngest fans can catch us perform at:
It's parade weekend and you can celebrate the season with us there - or at one of our other public events this Saturday or Sunday!
We'll be marching with the town of South Windsor at the Greater Hartford St. Patrick's Day Parade - look for the red, white, and black Irish dance squad!
We are also performing Saturday night at the Indian Valley Family YMCA Childcare Center's Multicultural Fair. The event showcases different cultural arts from around the globe and a great way to catch unique entertainment.
On Sunday we have our St Patrick's Day Irish Dance Lesson & Open House! at our South Windsor studio. Our Beginner class still has some openings and you can visit the event page for information on how to save your spot.
And finally, Sunday afternoon we'll be performing and giving a mini lesson at the Farmington Libraries, CT at the Main Branch from 2:00-2:45pm.
Hope to see you over the weekend!
It’s recital time! At Scoil Rince Luimni, we call our recital our annual Showcase. It started as a dinner dance and has evolved into a more traditional recital as our student body has grown. To keep true to our earlier days, we have two great receptions available before and after the show for families to connect, friendships to flourish, and keep a more relaxed and family friendly atmosphere.
The spring and early summer is always jam packed with activities, recitals, concerts, field days, graduations, communions, and everything from the academic year coming to a close. Especially if you’re a first timer to our Showcase, you may wonder how your dancer will cope with it all. The truth is - we really don’t know! You know your child inside and out but until they’re on stage for the first time, anything could happen.
In our classes we approach the Showcase with a pretty low-key attitude. True to our dinner dance roots, we speak to students about the Showcase as a way to share their new skills and joy for dance with their favorite family and friends. Instead of playing up the role of the audience, which can be an overwhelming and frightening thought for a young dancer, we make the role of the dancer shine. We talk about doing our very best and showing our best skills. We practice looking straight ahead and focusing on our technique so there’s no difference whether your dancer’s teacher is watching or a room full of hundreds.
When the realization of the audience does come up, we talk about how it’s a friendly audience. It’s a room full of supportive moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and siblings that are there to cheer everyone on. It’s an audience that understands it’s okay if you make a mistake and understands this is a learning experience. The audience appreciates great dancing but also doesn’t expect a class of beginners to be professional dancers. Often our dancers expectations of themselves is exponentially higher than the expectations of their parents or teacher.
Your dancer might show you nothing at home and then go out and nail it on stage. Your dancer might practice 24/7 and be the top of their class but go on stage and freeze. Your dancer might go out and do the hokey pokey despite knowing their reel inside and out. We don’t know and there’s only so much worrying we can do about it. As a parent, we encourage you to celebrate your child getting to the stage. Every year we have parents who swear their child is too anxious or too shy to get on stage - and then they do it. We often underestimate how much celebration this calls for and how amazing your dancer will feel afterwards. Conversely, if your dancer gets on stage and freezes or decides to freestyle - don’t assume they’re not cut out for dance or that they didn’t soak up any knowledge this year. Performing on stage is no easy feat and takes practice over time. You might consider doing some more casual performances throughout the year to help build your dancer’s confidence and give them experience. Remember, this is just the beginning of the road.
Many dancers will leave the Showcase feeling inspired by seeing all of the older and more experienced dancers perform. For some, this will be their first glimpse at what all those weekly lessons add up to over the years. Many will leave wanting to dance like this dancer or that dancer, or be able to do this trick or that trick. This is something to be celebrated too - seeing your dancer get excited, passionate, and more deeply interested in Irish dance as a whole. If your dancer is of the quieter, more reserved variety, they might not express this excitement aloud. Instead you may find them drawing or writing about dancers they saw in the Showcase or you may glimpses of them ‘practicing’ the hard shoe or championship numbers.
We are so excited for you to join us next Saturday! Our show begins at 5:30pm on May 19th at East Catholic High School in Manchester. Tickets are available through 5/12 online or for $25 cash at the door.
Our annual Showcase is Saturday May 19th beginning at 5:30pm. This year we will be holding our event at East Catholic High School in Manchester, CT. Each year our Showcase features all of our classes and dancers as well as scholarship and award winners to recognize each dancer's achievements and growth throughout the year.
Tickets go on sale tonight at 8pm - we have two ticket types, Gold and Standard.
Gold ticket holders will be admitted beginning at 4pm for a pre-show reception and early seating in the auditorium. There is no assigned seating, so gold ticket holders will have early access and first dibs on seats.
Standard ticket holders will be admitted beginning at 5pm to select from remaining seats. There are no bad views in this large auditorium and there are only 150 gold ticket available.
Both ticket types will have access to our post-show reception, our raffle baskets, and an amazing show!
2018 St Patrick's Day Tour
Thank you to everyone who spent St Patrick's Day with us at any point during the months of February and March! We performed at over 40 events and appearances, bringing smiles, steps, and Irish culture to thousands of people this season. Here are some of our favorite photos from this month, captured by dance parent Melissa Carter.
Bookings for 2019 will be open soon - make sure to snag your spot ASAP!
Our season of performing and sharing Irish music and dance with the masses began the last weekend of February but the main attractions are just around the corner!
Many of our events are private, but we've compiled a list of public events that anyone can attend! Some of these events do require reservations or tickets, so please check with the hosting venue for more information.
Farmington Library - Registration required
NBMAA Museum After Dark - Tickets Required
See you soon at one of our events! Happy St Patrick's Day!
With the New England Oireachtas coming to Hartford, this provides an opportunity for our dancers to have their local friends and family come see them compete without having to drive for hours round trip. I’m sure your favorite dancer would love your support, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you’re new to Irish dance checking out the Oireachtas, it can be overwhelming. Keep in mind that this is the top percentage of dancers in our region and it takes time and hard work to reach this point. At SRL, dancers are not required to compete so if this is too much you’ll never have to step foot into this little world again - you can enjoy performing and learning in class without stepping foot into the competition world.
Channel 3 Coverage of SRL at BDL
Channel 3 News was there to catch all the action on Friday for SRL's performance at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. Passengers arriving and departing from Bradley were treated to Irish dancing in Terminal A!
Check out the live video here:
Last Stand in Providence
The 2016 New England Oireachtas was held in Providence, RI from November 18-20 so New England's top dancers across three divisions could go head to head. SRL took 13 dancers and 1 team after many months of preparation, hard work, and sacrifice. Our dancers brought their best to the stage from our little first timers to our championship veterans. We had 4/5 soloists make the cut for top 50% of their age group with 3 qualifiying to the North American Championship to be held over the July 4th holiday in New Orleans, Louisiana!
Our traditional set squad consisted of almost exclusively first timers to the Oireachtas stage and their performances made us so proud! We had 3 dancers make the final cut for awards on stage with some fantastic results!
Our final division of competitors was our first ever ceili team! Our girls 4-Hand are the trailblazers for our school's ceili/teams program that will only grow from here. Teams are such an important part of Irish dancing and we hope to have all dancers experience this side of dancing in the coming years. Our team did not make the cut for awards, but they were pretty close to the recall line for a team that has only been together for a short time. Well done girls!
Next year the Oireachtas comes to our home city of Hartford! We plan to include even more first timers and teams to allow our hardworking dancers to opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd.
SRL on Tour
During the month of March, SRL dancers performed all around CT at different events, schools, libraries, media outlets, and even your local Whole Foods Market!
Among our favorites this year were NBC Connecticut on the morning of the Hartford St Patrick's Day Parade, on the ice at the Hartford Wolfpack game, on CT Style at their New Haven studio, and at Bradley International Airport as part of their Aer Lingus service to Dublin campaign.
The New England Oireachtas is the regional championships for dancers living in the six New England states. It serves as a ranking competition for dancers in all categories and for dancers who place highly enough to earn places in the 2016 North American Championships and 2016 World Championships. Dancers can compete in one of two divisions - traditional set or solo championships. In the traditional set division, dancers in the intermediate levels compete one round on stage to gain experience on the large stage to compete at the championship levels in the future.
SRL sent three traditional set dancers to the 2015 New England Oireachtas. All three placed in the top 50% of their competition to earn awards on stage. In the 17&Over age group, Siobhan Delorey of Falmouth, MA/Springfield MA placed 6th. In the Under 11 age group, Lilly Bluestein of Broad Brook earned 26th place. In the Under 9 age group, Colleen Williams of Hebron danced her way to the top of the podium earning first place!
In the solo division, where national and world qualifying places are up for grabs, dancers compete two rounds before a final cut is made to determine the final places. All three SRL dancers recalled to the final round and were eligible for awards (in most competitions, this includes the top 50% of competitors). In the Under 19 age group, Rebecca Kall of Farmington, CT recalled and ranked 9th to earn a berth to the North American Championships in Orlando, FL this July. In the Under 16 age group, Lindsey Hoffman of Columbia, CT placed 38th and will join Rebecca at the North American Championships. In the Under 15 age group, Tara Lynch placed 45th and is eager to join Kall & Hoffman in Orlando.
In May, SRL held our first spring Showcase at the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury, CT. The Showcase included performances by all SRL dancers, dinner & dessert for our families and friends, some ceili dancing, and fabulous raffle prizes donated by sponsors in our local community and the Irish dance community. The Showcase also served as a major fundraising event for the SRL Parent's Association which supports our dancers by providing stipends for costumes, competition, travel, and equipment. We are already looking forward to next year's event!
After the Showcase, dancers finished the final classes of the year before a well earned summer break. For some of our dancers, these classes were the final push before departing for the North American Irish Dance Championships held in Providence, Rhode Island. The NAIDC is an international major competition that serves as a qualifier for the World Championships in 2016. Dancers compete against the best from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, UK, Australia, and further afield for qualifying positions. Two SRL dancers represented us at the 2015 NAIDC, Brigid Cazzetta and Lindsey Hoffman. Brigid placed 16th and qualified for the World Championships and Lindsey danced beautifully at her first major debut. We are so proud of them and can't wait to see how Team SRL does at the upcoming New England Oireachtas in November.
Lights, Camera, SRL!
St. Patrick's Day is our Superbowl of performances! We perform at dozens of locations around Central CT for various audiences to spread our love of Irish dance with our community. A very special performance this year was at Bradley International Airport where dancers performed for arriving and departing passengers and handed out green carnations in the spirit of the day. There to catch all of the action was FOX CT News, the Hartford Courant, and Channel 3. In case you missed it, here are some of our media features:
FOX CT News: http://foxct.com/2015/03/17/on-st-patricks-day-bradley-airport-steps-up-for-the-irish/
For some December is a time to start winding down in time for Christmas, but at SRL we were busy spreading some holiday cheer! Dancers performed at Waxy O'Connor's Restaurant & Pub in Plainville for the launch of weekly Irish nights, held on Tuesday evenings. For many dancers at our Farmington location this was their first ever public performance; while there were confessions of a few nervous butterflies prior to the show all the dancers came off stage buzzing with excitement, adrenaline, and pride!
Next we headed to the Avon Public Library where we performed a holiday themed finale after a great showcase of talent from our smallest to tallest dancers. We had a large group of dancers performing and their performance skills & confidence continue to grow with each new experience dancing in front of an audience!
Fall Fun at SRL!
Dancers at Scoil Rince Luimni have been off to a fabulous start to their 2014-15 year! Here are some highlights from the first 12 weeks of classes:
SRL is so proud of our beginners who danced at their first competitions this fall. Each dancer who danced in the Beginner category this fall won all of their dances for a total of seven firsts over three competitions. We can't wait for the rest of our beginners to dance at their first competitions this winter.
Sporting the red, white, & Black:
We were all very excited to receive our new SRL merchandise this fall! Students proudly sport their red, white, and black in class and around town in a selection of tops, jackets, & hoodies!
Performance is an integral part of the student experience at Scoil Rince Luimni. Students gain experience and confidence while giving back to their local communities when performing at events, demonstrations, and festivals. If you want to catch our next performance, get on our email list for all of our upcoming appearances!
Find all of our latest news on our Scoil Rince Luimni Facebook page!