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.