Creative Dance “Recitals”

Kaitlin  asked: How do you think a creative dance class could lend its self to a recital?  To me a class for parents to observe is enough but I’m not sure how the studio where I teach would feel. At the same time I don’t know how I feel about creating a set dance for a recital in a creative dance class as I feel that it is not what creative dance is really “about.” Any ideas?

Kate says:

Here’s the Youtube link to a recent informance where parents and children danced together.  Children were 6 and 7 year olds.

One of the things that we love about creative dance is that  it strikes such a nice balance between organization and freedom.  We want the ‘freedom’ to shine through. For all activities, don’t over rehearse.  Keep a light touch.

Some “Explore” Activities that have a dynamic beginning-middle-end make for a great recital activity.  Depending on the age, and example is “Water and Ice.” Music: Eric Chappelle, Contrast and Continuum, Vol 1 #4     It has a thematic shape to it, with room for both improvisation and some ‘set’ movement if you choose.  Do it on a day when you are teaching “Free and Bound Flow” that falls close to the recital deadline.

Other good recital choices are the story-type dances. Examples are Little Seed, Snowflake  from AlphaBeat.  Or Haunted House from Brain Bop.  Or a story of your own that you love to show.

Younger children love Two Lands dances: like Giants and Babies (Eric Chappelle, Contrast and Continuum Vol. 1 #14)


What about Natural Disaster dances?  Assign small groups different disasters to choreograph. Props are optional. Tsunami, forest fire, earthquake, volcano.

Invented folk dances, with children designing their own movement ideas.

Notice how all these ideas are COMMUNAL and group oriented.  Not about frontal presentation but relating to and supporting one another.

The philosophy behind this is “dance feeds the body, mind and spirit.”  The ‘skill’ we are showing is how to express joy, creative and critical thinking and our humanity.


May 16, 2011. Recitals.


  1. Marianne replied:

    If you want creative dance in a concert, let the children create the dance! I worked in a studio that had large recitals twice a year. Luckily the director recognized that modern dance (or contemporary, whatever you want to call it) has a different kind of merit than the flashy jazz pieces from the other class. She gave the modern instructors our own concert. She called it “Choreographers Concert” because all the pieces were created by the teacher and students in collaboration. That was a wonderful way to showcase creative and modern dance, but I know that kind of opportunity is rare.

    When I choreograph with children, I come up with a choreographic idea, based on whatever the theme of the concert is. Then I present the idea to the students through ‘exploring’ activities. We practice each improvisation several times until we all feel comfortable with it. I might use a few different music selections, not necessarily the one we’ll end up performing to. Then we explore another aspect of the dance idea with a different exploring activity and create another section of the dance. Sometimes the idea I’ve come up with doesn’t work, so then we try something else. You can brainstorm ideas with your class.

    After we get 3 or 4 of these sections, we string them together with transitions, entrances, and exits, and put it with the music. There may be a phrase or two of set choreography, that either I or the students come up with, it’s not all improvised. The finished piece is usually a balance between set choreography and planned improvisation. For younger children, the dances are shorter (2 minutes, tops) and less improvised. For older children, age 6 and up, depending on their experience, nearly all movement ideas come from the dancers themselves.

    There is also a lot to be learned in putting an entire piece together, as opposed to short, unrelated activities. I’ve found the dancers remember their dances a LOT better, and perform with more confidence when they’ve created the dance themselves. The BYU Young DanceMakers do this REALLY well. The Young DanceMakers are part of the BYU children’s creative dance program. Check out a recent press release at

  2. Andrea replied:

    I use my 1st-4th grade Creative Dance classes as an introduction to Modern dance. The first semester we learn and explore the dance concepts and the second is used to introduce basic modern steps (prances, triplets, etc.) while incorporating the ideas learned in the previous semester. For our summer concert I use a ton of props and stories. I give the dancers different improvisation exercises to get their brains thinking then I use those ideas to create a piece. I often have a section of the dance as improvisation or something they have choreographed. By giving them the tools in the first semester, they are excited to incorporate them in their dances. I love the freedom of Creative Dance, but I also have to prepare my students for their modern classes that they will be starting in the 5th grade. I find it to be a nice balance.

    Here are some dances I have created for my 1st-4th Creative Dance classes with assistance from the dancers:

    A parachute dance using an instrumental song from Kate’s Step on the Beat CD

    A story about teddy bears and sharing to the can can

    A sleepy dance with an oversized blanket

    Dance with Scarves to Enya’s Orinoco Flow

    Hope this helps!

  3. Kerry replied:

    Yes, there is a lot of pressure to put on a huge recital. It is hard to not get taken along ofrthe ride. People are already asking me, what is the theme of the recital this year?

    Is it necessary to have a theme? Is it more appropriate to have an informal showing for a studio highlighting what we have learned? I hate drilling dances and like all the ideas above. I sometimes feel that all my energy and time is going to the “end results” to impress parents and families and not as much as I would like into teaching. As everyone know it takes so much energy and time to plan costumes, themes, programs, ect,,,,,,

    Just looking to further the discussion………Thanks!

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