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The Recital Planning Process & Recital FAQ's

By: Mrs. Brandy

For any readers in project management, this wheel may seem all too familiar, but like you know, the project management process is one that is natural and ensures success when used appropriately. A Recital is a major project for a dance studio. The dates in the example above are referencing the June 2021 performance at The Movement Dance Experience in Las Vegas, Nevada. A performance in June 2021 initiates in January 2020. This blog post and further FAQ's are outlined in such a manner that the reader will be able to see how the studio uses the project management process in preparing for their annual performance.

The Movement Dance Experience hosts two major performances a year. The first is the large, yearly Recital. This is a celebration of all the dancers have learned over the previous dance season. The second performance is the Winter Concert. This concert is when the Company showcases their talents. They take the stage to demonstrate the director's vision for concert dance. This is where the real magic happens. In both cases, the dancers shake with excitement to perform on stage for their family and friends. It's a vibration you can feel in the air if you work backstage with them. Our performing dancers range from ages 3-18! They gather backstage in the dressing rooms with their friends decorating coloring books, spending time with their teachers, anxiously awaiting the call from the stage to line up. The Recital and Concert are two shows that can't be missed!

Over the years we've received many questions about Recital. We have created a list of some frequently asked questions. This list is organized along the project management timeline. This will also allow the reader to understand when each fee will be due and at what point they should be concerned with it.

What is the process of planning a Recital?

The process of planning a recital is extensive and sometimes overwhelming. It takes at least 1.5 years to create a jaw-dropping performance, sometimes longer. The studio categorizes our process in these phases: initiation, planning, execution, performance & control, and closure. Initiation Phase - 1.5 years prior to performance date: thinking of theme, vision, schedule and cost. Planning Phase - 1 year prior to performance date: refining theme, paying deposits, assigning teachers to classes, scheduling meetings, and planning curriculum. Execution Phase - 7 months prior to performance date: directing and managing staff, solidifying class themes, music, and costumes, ordering costumes, scheduling photographer and videographer, making necessary deposits, direct communication with each other, creating show order, creating dressing room assignments, scheduling deliveries, and much, much more. Performance & Control Phase - the day before and day of: leading the performance, managing the risk, monitoring the progress and controlling changes. Closure - 1 week after the performance date: assessing the execution of the event, documenting lessons learned, recording room for improvement, and evaluating staff on their performance.

In the example of this year's June 2021 Recital, the Initiation Phase begins in January 2020. This is when the Artistic Director begins her planning for the theme and vision. She also determines who the cast will be and when the show should be. She schedules the date with the theatre, and puts the date on the studio calendar. Here are some questions parents may have that arise during the Initiation Phase:

What is Recital? Recital is an end of season performance for our dancers, in Recital performing classes, to showcase everything they’ve learned and accomplished throughout the year. All choreography is learned during the students’ regular class time. No additional rehearsals are required to learn choreography except for Dress Rehearsal, which is normally held the day before the performance. Costumes are distributed to all students during regular class period during Costume Week, and Recital photos are taken by a professional photographer during Photo Week.

Are all dancers required to do Recital? No, although we stress the importance of the event and suggest that all dancers have the opportunity to take the stage and participate. Would you sign up for a baseball team and not attend the final tournament? Dancers who opt out of Recital still attend class on Costume Week and Photo Week and may feel left out of these important moments and memories.

The Recital Planning Phase began in June 2020. The catalyst for this phase is the payment of the deposit for the theatre and/or equipment rentals. At this point the teachers begin to plan their curriculum for the July 2020 - June 2021 season. Unfortunately, due to the prolonged government-mandated closures, we were unable to begin our recital preparation season until September 2020. However, our teachers did not miss a beat! They planned their curriculum in June and began teaching the curriculum necessary for dancer success for the June 2021 Recital! The Artistic Director refines the theme in June. This is crucial as it allows the teachers to begin planning choreography and music for December exams. The staff meetings necessary for the Recital planning process are scheduled and the dates are finalized. Here are some questions parents may have that arise during the Planning Phase:

Will my dancer be automatically signed up for Recital? Yes! All TMDE students who are enrolled in Recital performing classes are automatically signed up for Recital. You can opt out of your Recital participation any time before the last Saturday before Holiday Break. Students who enroll at TMDE between January and February are offered to perform at enrollment should the studio be capable of producing a costume for the dancer in time for Costume Week. Students who enroll after March 1st will not be permitted to perform in the current season’s Recital, but will be automatically signed up for the next season’s Recital.

How do I opt out my dancer of Recital? Cancellations for Recital are due no later than the last Saturday of before the Holiday Break. You must submit a Recital Cancellation Form which you can find on our website under “Documents and Forms”. We cannot take Recital cancellations over the phone, by email, or in person at the studio.

When is the deadline to opt out of Recital? The deadline to cancel Recital participation is by close of business on the last Saturday before the Holiday Break.

Why is the Recital deadline so early? We order costumes from companies on the east coast. The companies do not stock costumes and will not start making costumes until they have been paid for in full. If we do not order costumes by January, they may not be ready by Costume Week. Based on the Recital cancellation forms we receive in December, the studio begins solidifying plans over the Holiday Break by: scheduling and holding paid staff meetings to create understanding of future plans, begin choreography and formations, pre-order the necessary costumes and props, pay any remaining balance due to the theatre or stage rental (base deposit is already paid 12 months prior to the performance date), create show order and dressing room assignments, order T-shirts for performers, book and pay the photographer and videographer, AND MORE! Putting on a show is no easy feat and is extremely expensive and time consuming. The studio does all these things and fronts these payments for our clients before any funds are received to ensure our studio families are not overwhelmed with additional fees over the holidays.

Does my dancer have to do Recital with every class they take? No, you can choose to participate in recital with none or all the classes you take at TMDE. Only dancers who have completed a Recital Cancellation Form for the classes that they do not want to participate in Recital for before the deadline will be released from their payment and performance obligations. Non-recital classes will not be required to fill out a form. Dancers enrolled in Pointe Artistry MUST perform in all their enrolled Ballet classes.

What if my dancer chooses not to do Recital, do they have to quit the class now? No. If you choose not to participate in Recital, you will still learn the routine, but you will be placed on the side of the formations and you will not perform it on stage with your class. Your dancer will still be expected to attend class during Costume Week and Photo Week with submitted tuition, but will not be permitted to participate in these activities. Class will still run, this is just a small portion of class lasting 15-30 minutes. To ensure your dancer does not feel left out, we stress the importance of participation in Recital by all students.

What are the fees to participate in the Recital? This year, costume fees are due by the 31st of January. They are $124.63 cash/check/ACH auto-debit or $130.63 card. Recital fees are due the 28th of February. They are $150 cash/check/ACH auto-debit or $156 card.

When is the Recital Fee & Costume Fee due? All Recital and costume fees are posted to the account on January 1st. Costume fees are due by January 31st. Recital fees are posted to the account on February 1st. Recital fees are due by February 28th. Your account will be auto debited for those amounts on the due dates if you have not paid the fees before the due dates.

Why do you charge a Recital fee? TMDE charges a Recital fee to cover the administrative costs of organizing and preparing for a Recital, to rent the theatre and/or stage, seating, and sound/lighting equipment and engineers, order Recital T-shirts for your dancer, the dancer’s nude leotard that goes under their costumes, to pay the photographer and videographer, to pay the Instructors for their time at Dress Rehearsal and the performance, and to provide the dancers with lunch and/or snacks and refreshments on the day of the show.

What does my dancer get for their Costume Fee? When you pay your costume fee you receive a costume and all accessories (headpieces, gloves, etc.), a pair of tights (except for costumes that do not require tights), any alterations and adjustments that may be needed, white glove packaging and primping service by our staff, and a photographer on Photo Week with online access to order your photographs. You are responsible for the dance shoes needed for each recital dance (except for costumes that include shoes).

Do you have Recital payment plans? If so, when do they start? Yes. We do offer Recital payment plans, and they can begin as early as August 1st (or the first day of each new dance season). Recital payment plans will not be accepted for any reason for current clients after January 1st, except for new enrollments after January 1st that express interest in the Recital. Understand that when you do not do your duty to request a payment plan before the deadline you are taking time away from the studio’s current obligations to other work to request that they create one for you. Come January, our staff is busy executing the success of the show and in order to assist you last minute they are risking not meeting deadlines and also putting the studio in unforeseen financial hardship as we wait longer to be reimbursed for funding fronted for your dancer.

Beginning in January of the performance year, the staff meets over holiday break to order costumes, finalize music edits, and solidify the class themes. The teachers come into January with finalized choreography. They base their choreography on the finalized Recital participation rosters they receive the Sunday before Holiday break. The studio moves forward with finalizing dates with the photographer and videographer. Show order begins to come together as well as dressing room assignments.

Here are some questions parents may have that arise during the Execution Phase:

What happens if I cancel my dancer's enrollment and/or participation in Recital past the opt-out deadline? Dancers who withdraw from a Recital performing class past the opt-out deadline will STILL be liable to submit their costume fees, Recital fees, as well as a Recital cancellation fee of $100. This is non-negotiable. Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency to the studio or require a solution. The Recital dates are always announced by July 31st of the previous year. This allows for ample planning for our studio families, and the studio will not be held liable for any last minute changes you have. The show must go on.

Why do you charge a Recital cancellation fee if I cancel my Recital participation after the deadline? If you have not submitted a Recital Cancellation Form before the deadline, our studio is in the understanding that your dancer will be performing in the Recital 6 months later when we go into our planning and funding over holiday break. We spend the Holiday Break including your dancer and their commitment to reimburse the studio for what we have prepaid. Those who fail to complete their duty on time put the studio in financial hardship and have wasted our previous planning efforts. When you cancel your participation past the deadline it sends the entirety of our staff back to the drawing board to adjust, and sometimes completely re-do, our plans for your dancer’s class and sometimes the entire show. We have to clear the slate for the class that a dancer cancels their participation in and restart all planning efforts to include: choreography (paying the teacher extra for their time), potentially reordering new costumes for the entire class if the changes do not fit the previous vision, closing classes and having to refund families that planned and paid for their participation that can no longer participate in that class, combining classes, changing show order, and, worst of all, a teacher may lose income over a closed class. We also lose money on your dancer’s costume and funds towards the theatre or stage rental, staff wages, Recital T-shirts, any food or snacks provided to dancers on the day of the show, and the list goes on. The Recital cancellation fee does not even begin to cover the loss of what the studio has already pre-planned and paid for your dancer and is just a consolation to the Instructor who now may be asked to work extra hours or lose their classes. If you love your teacher, do not do them this disservice and hold true to your commitment.

Can I get a refund or credit if I decide not to do Recital after the opt-out deadline? Recital and Costume fees are non-refundable, and no credits are given. We order costumes as soon as the deadline for payment is passed. Costume companies do not allow returns, refunds, or credits so we cannot give you a refund or credit. Once the deadline to opt out has passed, you will be responsible for your child’s costume fee even if they do not perform. We will call you after the Recital and you may pick up your child’s costume. If a costume is not picked up by the end of the 1st week in July’s Summer Session, the costume becomes property of the studio. If you choose to opt-out from Recital after the deadline, you will also incur a $100 penalty as our Instructors have worked very hard on choreography and will have to rework choreography without your child. You will also be responsible for the Recital fee as leotards, shirts, and other items have been ordered that cannot be returned.

Are costumes custom made? Sometimes. Most of our costumes are ordered from costume manufactures on the east coast that TMDE has done business with for many years, although if these costume manufacturers do not have what we are looking for our in-house Costume Designer will create the garment from scratch. We measure each child in their regular classes starting in January and compile that information for ordering and creation. Costume orders are done according to a size chart and we do allow for growth of children. We will always order the next size up if the main measurement is very close to the top end of measurements in the size chart range. Costumes can not be exchanged with these costume manufacturers, which is why we offer alterations by our Costume Designer. Should a garment we have ordered not fit your dancer, it will be modified by our Costume Designer to fit for the show.

How do we handle boys’ costumes? In most cases boys’ costumes are coordinated to match the color of the girls’ costumes in the class. In some cases, the boys’ costumes are the same as the girls’ (usually for Hip Hop). If the boys' costumes are not the same as the girls’, the Costume Designer will source pieces to coordinate a costume.

How do I know what my costume will look like? Soon after the costumes are chosen by the teachers, the Recital costumes are posted on the DSP Parent Portal under the costume tab.

What shoes does my child have to have for Recital and do I have to provide them? Your child’s costume will require the same shoes they wear in their classes. It is your responsibility to provide the shoes for Recital (except for costumes that come with shoes).

Can I keep my Recital costume? Yes. After the performance it is yours to keep and should never return back to the studio.

Why do I have to pay regular tuition during Costume (Photo) Week? Costume and Picture week are charged as regular classes. The teachers are present and working with dancers during both weeks and the studio is open for business.

Does my child have to have a specific hairstyle or wear makeup for the Recital performance? In March we will release a flyer that outlines exactly how the hair and makeup should be styled. While there is no specific type or manufacturer recommended for makeup, you should generally match your child’s skin tone for the base makeup and use a complimenting red lipstick for recital. Boys should wear gentle powder if needed, but that is all. We will not be assisting your dancer with hair and make-up for any reason during Photo Week, Dress Rehearsal, or the Recital. We may have done so in the past, but moving forward with COVID regulations, our studio will not help with these tasks.

The Performance and Control Phase begins the day before the Recital and the day of the Recital. The most important item on the checklist is to manage and control risk until the very last dancer leaves the theatre after the performance. From the moment the Artistic Director, now Mrs. Mandy taking the role of the Stage Manager, arrives, she is planning lights, sound, and more. All of this occurs within an hour before the first dancer arrives for dress rehearsal. During dress rehearsal, she is calling lights, changing and mapping new plans for stage directions, and ensuring that the staff is managing their roles effectively backstage. Mrs. Mandy's experience really shines through her performances. Many times, some dancers don't show up, even after preparing all season and committing to Recital. Dress Rehearsal and Recital Day can feel chaotic to first time families. With the government-mandated closures of our public library theatre, we have taken our performance success into our own hands. This year we will be hosting the Recital behind the studio. We have teamed up with RSVP Party Rentals, and they will be executing the vision and level of perfection that we require for our performances.

Here are some questions parents may have that arise during the Performance Phase:

How can I purchase Recital tickets? Recital tickets may be purchased online starting in February using the ticketing link advertised through TMDE’s communication channels and website. If available, tickets may also be purchased at the door before the Recital. Ticket sales will end 15-minutes before showtime on the day of Recital. No tickets will be sold at the studio in-person prior to the show or at Dress Rehearsal.

What types of tickets are available? Reserved (VIP and General Admission) tickets (with a specific row and seat number sold online prior to the day of show) and “Day-Of” Tickets (first come first served sold from ticket booth on show day) will be available.

Can I buy Recital tickets at the studio? No. You can purchase them online or at the Recital on show day; however, tickets purchased on the day of the show will be more expensive than pre-purchasing online.

Can I exchange my Recital tickets or get a refund? No. Once your tickets are purchased, they cannot be refunded, exchanged, or re-sold to a second party. You must be attending the Recital with the purchaser of the tickets. Families who try to submit tickets purchased under a different family’s name will not be permitted to enter with those tickets.

How many numbers will my dancer be in? Your dancer will perform in as many numbers as they have classes. If they are in 3 Recital performing classes, and you did not cancel their recital performance in any of those classes, AND your account is in good standing, they will perform in 3 numbers.

When will I know when my dancer’s class will perform in what order in the show? We will post the show order at the studio prior to Dress Rehearsal and via email to the account holder on file.

Will I know ahead of time when, specifically, my dancer’s routine will be in Recital? We cannot guarantee the exact time your dancer will be performing. The show must always go on, and the numbers may change order at a moment’s notice. We ask that you pay all our dancer’s respect and stay for the whole show. We do not allow audience members to leave the show for any reason while dancers are performing on stage. Audience members may get up to use the restroom only between numbers when dancers are not on stage, and may leave the performance only during Intermission or after the show has ended.

Is there a Dress Rehearsal? Yes. The day before the performance all dancers must be in attendance to dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsal is entirely closed. No parent or guest will be permitted to attend the Dress Rehearsal with dancers. This is non-negotiable. Dancers are distracted when their parents are sitting in the crowd, and while we love that you are eager to help, it is easier for our staff to get in and get the job done as planned without parents or guests in the way. If you don’t trust us to get the job done effectively, please see #12 on how to opt out of Recital. We have adequate staff in attendance to watch over all dancers and keep them safe. You should be preparing even your youngest performer at 3 years old to attempt to change their costumes on their own. This is why we have all dancers wear a nude leotard underneath their costumes. Of course, our staff will assist them if needed with returning costumes to garment bags and keeping their things organized, as well as pulling up costumes if they need assistance. Do not pack electronics in your dancer’s bag; they will be confiscated and returned to you after the performance. Teens that have cell phones are not permitted to pull them out of their dance bags for any reason during the duration of the Dress Rehearsal (and performance) and will be allowed to contact you if needed after they are released.

Why can’t I video the show or take photos during the show? For the safety of our dancers, we do not allow any flash photography at any of our shows. We also want to make sure each person in the audience has a good view of the stage and their dancers. Tripods and anxious parents standing in the theatre to take photos/video of their children disrupts the show and ruins the viewing experience for others around them. This also takes away from YOUR experience. Audience members should be engaged in the performance real-time and have memories of watching their child take the stage through their own eyes, not a small screen. It is also very offensive to our Photographer and Videographer, paid for by YOU, that audience members take away from his work. Would you hire a photographer at your wedding and allow your friends to block his or her angle with their cell phones? This is why a digital download of all performances is included to all families in your Recital fees. An included digital download is not always the case and should not be taken for granted.

What do I do on the day of the show? You will be notified where to check your dancer in and at what call-time in the weeks prior to the performance. The office will not be lacking in our information sharing. PLEASE CHECK YOUR EMAIL. We will not be reiterating information directly to you during your visits to the studio, we will simply direct you to check your email and write us with any questions you may have. Your dancer should arrive dressed in their first costume, with any other costumes packed neatly in their garment bag(s). You will not be permitted backstage before the performance for any reason. Our staff will get your dancer set up in their dressing room. You should then allow yourself some time to relax by getting lunch or coffee before the house opens for seating. YOU DESERVE THIS TIME TO YOURSELF! This is a special day for you as well. When you return to the performance venue to be seated you will check your tickets at the door with an usher and will be directed to your seats. Then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show!

FINALLY! The show is over. You're at the door waiting for your dancer. The teachers are counting students and lining them up. Everyone is helping to clean the dressing rooms. We are so close! Only a week break stands between Recital and Summer Intensives. It moves so quickly. Oh! I forgot to mention! During this entire process, Mrs. Mandy was planning a Winter Concert running the same phases, but for a second show in November, as well as sitting in the Initiation Phase for next June's Recital. July 1 is so close, and that begins the Planning Phase AGAIN!

Here are some questions parents may have that arise during the Closure Phase:

Where do I find my dancer after the performance? After the performance, please do not congregate by the check-out area. It is important that our staff has adequate space and quietness to release each dancer to you safely. When a dancer has arrived at the check-out with all of their belongings your name will be called to approach the area and retrieve your dancer. Dancers will not be released in any particular order - first packed up, first out. Keep this in mind when you're packing your dancer’s Recital bag; the less packed the less there is to repack, and the faster they can be released. This process can sometimes take 30-45 minutes depending on the amount of cast members, so we ask that you please stay patient as our staff works their magic backstage. Then it is time to celebrate! Enjoy a nice dinner or night at home with all your family, and your one week off from dance for our 1st Summer Break.

Does my dancer have dance on Monday? No! Please enjoy the one-week break! Remember, we are a 12-month school and do not close for Summer. Your dancer's classes will still run in the evening. We also have Summer Intensives running throughout the day during July. This is a great opportunity for your dancer to learn while also utilizing the intensives similar to a day camp program! Check out the information here:

I hope this information can be found useful to you! If you think of any other question outside of these FAQ's, please send us an email at

By: Mrs. Brandy & Mrs. Mandy

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