I am not a competitive dancer, but I am competitive. I like to set goals for myself and I like dance teachers who recognize this and use goals in their classes as well. I like to challenge myself and to be challenged. Nonetheless, I am a perfectionist and I do not like to perform pieces I do not feel good about. Maybe that is why I personally like only a small portion of the choreography that I have performed. What I have loved about those is that special vibe when you know you are going to work hard for this. All the nerves, the anticipation – for me that is what makes a recital special.
It is difficult to choreograph for a recital, that is a fact. If the piece is too simple, students get bored. If the piece is too difficult, they feel embarassed about it. Personally, I tend to dislike practicing a dance not during a part of a regular technique class but throughout an entire technique class. Also, I think that if a group needs month of rehearsals to ,,clean” a dance, the dance is too difficult. On the one hand, I dislike dances that I feel uncomfortable with, because they are too difficult and have never quite worked out during any rehearsal, as well as dances that on the other hand are too simple.
As a teacher, I have made a different experience though. I have also come to appreciate recitals as a chance to challenge the students and to set a certain goal. Especially with advanced dancers and with teams that already were familiar with each other, there is a completely new atmosphere if you announce that the combo they are learning at the moment will be performed. It adds a sense of ambition to the class.
With other groups on the other hand, I have felt different about recitals for a variety of reasons. First, rehearing for a recital takes time away from technique practice, which is why I do not like to put groups that are in the middle of gaining new technique on stage. Second, the anticipation an upcoming recital adds to practice sometimes does not lead to the students working hard but to more complains – about each other, about the choreography, about practice.
Ever since I have been dancing, my mother has seen this from another point. Not wanting me to feel pressured, she wanted simple routines that were nice to watch but not so difficult I would fear the actual day of the recital. For her a choreography was just right when it summed up what we had been learning the last year without adding anything new.
I assume that by watching a choreography a dance teacher put on stage you get a sense of who the teacher is. Someone who wants to play it safe? Someone creative? Someone who likes to focus on technique? Someone ambitious? And as students are just as different as teachers are, I do not think we will ever find the perfect recital choreography.
As dancer, what do you like best about recitals?
And as a teacher, what do you find especially important when it comes to choreographing for a recital?