Make Recital Planning Fun!

by on Nov 9 '16

November is here! It feels like we just kicked off our new dance season, but it’s already time to start planning for our year-end show. Recital planning is a major undertaking, especially if you put on a big production! There are so many important details, and many of them require you to make decisions early (hello, costume selection/orders)!

More than a decade ago, we found what we think is the absolute best way to tackle these details and make significant progress in the planning department: a recital planning retreat! This has turned into a huge event for us that we now could never live without. Our recital retreat involves a lot of around-the-clock hard work, but is also a great time for faculty bonding.

Following are some insights on how we’ve made ours successful and tips for planning your own retreat!

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Location

We have learned that we must get out of the studio and into a serene environment. Being in Georgia, we are fortunate to be close to both mountains and beaches, but with our retreat in the Fall, we prefer the beautiful North Georgia mountains. We rent a large cabin with plenty of room for everyone to sleep, but also enough living space for different groups to divide and conquer.

If you don’t have time to plan an entire weekend, consider doing a day, afternoon, or one night somewhere and have a brainstorming session about concepts, themes, and/or costumes. It will help give you inspiration, as well as get your staff excited about the theme!

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Attendees

We bring about 6-8 faculty members with us, including the directors for each of our performing companies and our Office Manager. Following the long weekend retreat, we organize a faculty meeting with everyone to share all the details!

We highly recommend involving your faculty in the planning! You are sure to get amazing, creative ideas from the ones who work with your dancers every day. And, the added bonus is that it is a great time for faculty bonding!

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Make it Fun!

There’s no doubt that the work that we crank out during our recital retreat is serious business, but we also work hard to make the weekend fun! As the studio owners, we arrive a day early so we can set up and get organized before our staff arrives. We buy a ton of yummy food (and drinks!), decorate the cabin and assemble goodie bags for everyone with fun items related to our show theme. Dani even crafted some super fancy t-shirts for everyone this year! And, by super fancy, I mean she ironed on some super fun gold glitter letters! We started the weekend by watching the movie together and shouting out ideas (both good and bad) during the movie! It is so awesome to get multiple points of view!

Making it fun does not require you to have a huge budget! Just by adding a few fun details like snacks, decor, photo ops and/or a fun goodie bag, you can elevate what would otherwise just be a meeting to a fun event!

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Task List

There’s no doubt that our task list is a beast (no pun intended!) but it’s the most important part of our retreat. At Rhythm, we have six different shows for our recital, so having clear objectives of what we need to accomplish is very important! We outline every major task for the weekend on a piece of poster board that hangs prominently in our cabin, and we don’t leave until it’s all completed! A few of our most critical tasks include determining which classes are in which shows, deciding on themes and music for all routines, selecting costumes and editing music for all classes, setting a dress rehearsal schedule and identifying props and backdrops needed for show. Once this is done, info for the show including show dates and times, dress rehearsal dates and times, and costume costs goes out to our parents and students the Monday following the retreat!

We find it very motivating to have a visible checklist that we can definitively mark off as each task as done. Add some fun stickers and doodles, and you are on your way to adding more fun to an otherwise mundane list!

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Recital Planning Spreadsheet

As we make decisions in each category, we build a master spreadsheet where all the information lives. We love using Google Sheets for this, as multiple people can be in the document at the same time making edits. Over the rest of the season, we will reference this spreadsheet many times!

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Promote your retreat on Social Media!

This is also an excellent time to use social media to give your followers some behind the scenes and teasers! We use Snapchat for our #bts (behind the scenes)! I posted a few pics on our Instagram account, but all the fun stuff went on Snapchat! Your students and parents will love getting a sneak peek into all the hard work and time that goes into planning your show! It’s a lot of work, so why not make it fun!!

And, no retreat is complete without its very own hashtag! In case you didn’t already guess, our theme this year is based on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, so our hashtag is #beastretreat!

So, in summary, here are our key tips for planning your very own recital planning retreat:

  • Set aside focused time whether it is a day, a night or a weekend
  • Bring your faculty with you
  • Make it FUN! A few added touches will go a long way
  • Set clear objectives for what you want to accomplish
  • Keep good notes and records of every decision you make to make it easier for you throughout the year
  • Engage your social media followers in the process to build excitement for you theme
  • One last very important tip…Throw confetti (or in our case, rose petals) to celebrate all you accomplish during this productive session!

Happy Planning!

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7 Comments

  • Your ideas are always enjoyable to read thru…love it!
    And nice to know that minus the actual retreat itself…we do think on the same track!!
    Thanx again for my fantastic goody bag…it so so so made my unbearable accident happening so much more bearable! I love that I still have plenty of pages to color as I am still in the BBB-big – black – boot!!!

  • Can you share the spread sheet and check list?

    • Hi Valerie! There is a photo in the post that shows our checklist (we made it fun with stickers and doodles)! As for the spreadsheet, some of it is specific to our studio, but a lot of it may work for you. Here are the row headers across the top of our spreadsheet in case you want to create your own. We use pieces of the spreadsheet throughout the year, including for communication to parents, our tech week rehearsals, dress rehearsal and more. Hope this is helpful for you!

      CLASS DAY
      CLASS TIME
      TEACHER
      ROUTINE/THEME
      SHOW DATE & TIME
      DRESS REHEARSAL DAY
      DRESS REHEARSAL TIME
      DRESS REHEARSAL RUNNING ORDER
      DRESS REHEARSAL TRACK NUMBER
      COSTUME CATALOG
      CATALOG DESCRIPTION
      COSTUME STYLE NUMBER
      CATALOG PAGE NUMBER
      COSTUME COLOR
      WHOLESALE COSTUME COST
      COSTUME NOTES TIGHTS/ETC
      SHOES
      HAIR
      PICK-UP STATION
      LEADER
      HELPER
      TECH DAY
      TECH TIME FRAME
      SHOW TRACK NUMBER
      EWM or PS in BO (enter with music or pre-set with blackout)
      BACKDROP
      LIGHTS
      NUMBER OF PERFORMERS
      LEADER
      PROPS: YES or NO
      LIST ALL PROPS
      ENTER STAGE: RIGHT or LEFT
      ORDER OF DANCERS IN WINGS: STAGE RIGHT
      ORDER OF DANCERS IN WINGS: STAGE LEFT
      PS/K NUMBERS
      PS/K LETTERS
      MISC NOTES

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