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  • Writer's pictureCorey Burns

The Performance

A person much smarter than me coined the concept: “Begin with the end in mind.” The idea is to know what you want as the end result. That allows for a good plan, better process, awesome execution and eventually an accurate overall assessment of the whole project. For dancers, the process of learning to dance is fun and valuable, but the desired end result is very often the Performance.

Beginning with the End in Mind

Our studio’s big performance is the annual Burns Dance Studio recital. Traditionally done in mid-May, kids, parents, friends and relatives all gather to watch our students dance on the stage. Recitals are a HUGE deal for dance studios each year. There can be hundreds of kids and spectators, thousands of costumes and even more thousands of dollars all coming together for the annual recital. We work hard to learn and perfect dance technique. In the end, though, we want to use that hard work to present something captivating and exciting before an audience.

How do we get there? Our students begin the process of working towards their performance when they register for classes in August. Our studio spends months learning steps and combinations to become better dancers, so that when it’s time to perform, our students are prepared and ready. We don’t start recital routines until mid year. We ultimately plan for a successful performance on the stage, but we also want the kids to enjoy the process. After all, why spend all that time, energy, and money just to be on stage for 2-3 minutes. The recital is where it all eventually comes together, but the performance is MUCH more than the “end.” Every kid that goes through the process is gaining valuable life experiences. Performing allows kids to process anxiety and fear, learn planning and organization, and experience exhilaration and sometimes disappointment. The annual dance recital is a time for our youngest dancers to say to themselves, “I did it,” and for their families to celebrate their accomplishment, regardless of their ability level. It’s a time for older dancers to share a passion with people they love.

All the dancers, from preschool through high school, have attended classes every week for months. They’ve learned new skills, new routines, and new ways to overcome challenges as they’ve grown in dance and in life. And then, finally, all the hours of training culminate into the moment they’ve been preparing for - bright lights beaming down on them, hundreds of people watching, it’s their time to shine. And it’s a very BIG DEAL!

When the show is over, the make-up goes away, costumes go to a closet, flowers to wherever they go, and guests go home. BUT the confidence kids gain and the memories they make will last forever.

Beyond the Recital

For other kids in our program the performance, or performances, may go beyond the recital. They may showcase their skills during the year at basketball games, community performances, dance competitions or spring concerts. These families have chosen to upgrade their dance experience.

Since 1987, we have been the only local dance studio to put together a unique routine for performing at the halftime break of basketball games in the area. This has been a group of 40-80 kids (depending on how we structure the season) who learn choreography and get a special costume. These kids are also enrolled in a separate class at the studio. The idea is to increase performance opportunities outside the recital. In January, this group travels to local basketball arenas on Fridays or Saturdays to perform. It is a very exciting time, and many families get to see their kids and their kids’ classmates, churchmates, and friends shine on the gym floor.

An Upgrade

The next “upgrade” is our Squad Program. These kids are in a program that allows them to attend a regional dance competition. The kids must be enrolled in a separate dance class as well. This is our first year with Squad. Some kids in our halftime program are also in Squad. Squad dancers learn a routine for a competition stage. The choreography is a little bit harder, and the performance standards are higher. They will eventually compete in a recreational category of a competitive setting. This year we plan to attend Encore Dance Competition in May. At the moment, due to the large turnout, we have Squad I and Squad II. We are thrilled to offer this experience and look to grow this program next year.

Performing Company

The highest level of performance opportunity goes to our Performing Company. These are the families that have a high commitment to their kids’ dancing. Kids in this program commit to attending technique classes each week in tap, ballet, jazz, and contemporary. In addition to classes, they attend choreography sessions with guest artists brought in from other areas of the country. They are grouped according to age and ability and can perform in as many as 8 routines in a given season. This group also attends dance conventions where classes are taught to hundreds of dance students in large ballrooms. (Check out last month’s blog on dance conventions!) Competitions are a big part of the Performing Company program as well.

Our Spring Concert is a performance we put on in March. During this concert friends and family can see the high level competition routines of the Performing Company all in one show. Competitive dancers at our studio begin learning competition routines in August and continue through December. The routines are then performed at competitions throughout the next several months. The Spring Concert gives the company dancers a chance to share

the incredible choreography they’ve been able to perform. It also gives them the opportunity to showcase the hard work they’ve put into these routines. Their friends and family who may not see them in competitions, which aren’t always local, are able to see what these kids spend all their time doing! The Spring Concert also allows us to celebrate our graduating seniors and wish them well as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.

Join Us

In Aiken, Burns Dance Studio has the most performance opportunities for the most kids in our area. We are blessed with great instructors who can choreograph, teach, polish routines and attend performances. Our parents are very supportive before, during, and after the performances. It is all a wonderful experience, and it is the “end” we have in mind when we begin each year, the “end” we hope and plan for. Our performances pull together a long process of classes, choreography, costuming and rehearsing. We provide our students with opportunities to grow in unexpected ways, share parts of themselves and their accomplishments, and make memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime.

For more information on how you can join us at Burns Dance Studio, follow us on Facebook or check our website each month for the newsletter. We’d love to have you perform with us!

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