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In Step With DC
Backstage at Recital: The Making of Hard Knock Life
Written by Erin Sforza on July 24, 2018

Every year at our recital, we have a group of performers who work incredibly hard to kick off recital with a fantastic production number. Those performers range in age from 7 – 20+ years and come together to create something wonderful that lets our audience know they are in for one entertaining show. This year, however, things were a little different. Our Recital Company this year had two separate groups performing two separate numbers, and they youngest company members were given the ultimate opportunity to shine by having the stage all to themselves. They still got the benefit of spending time with and watching our Junior and Senior Companies as they worked on their performance as well!

Our Petite Recital Company comes to the same 2-hour audition process as our Junior and Senior Companies, but their process is more for the learning experience. Miss Mary firmly believes in helping young dancers to reach their potential by including them according to their current skill level and giving them something to work toward for next year. The choice of “Hard Knock Life” from the Broadway musical Annie, though it was chosen prior to auditions, seemed to fit the spunky group of young dancers perfectly.

Miss Mary knew they were going to do well with this number from the beginning. “You could tell they were all very excited. We had a pretty large group of dancers to work with who all may have had different ability levels, but all certainly had a lot of character!”

Miss Donna and Miss Victoria with the tutoring help of Miss Emily got to work right away on casting featured parts and beginning to see what groups would be dancing in each section of the song. This was an all new experience for many of the dancers, and the rehearsal time was longer than most of the classes that they were taking during the week. The group adjusted to it pretty quickly though and the older, more experienced members of the group helped to set the example of what was expected as far as focus and effort. Our petites were introduced to being evaluated and swapped into and out of different parts of the dance according to their ability level and began to understand how important individual practice and effort was when it came down to who would stay in certain parts of the dance.

Miss Donna, Miss Victoria and Miss Mary found someone to make the orphan costumes from scratch, just like the costumes for Beauty and the Beast, insuring the number would look exactly the way they wanted. They gathered props for the girls which included everything from rags for cleaning to literally including the kitchen sink! Meanwhile the Petite Company parents traded info on where to get the boots and socks needed to complete the costumes.

After weeks of work and adjustment to the choreography, the teachers added levels to the dance. Buckets, mops, and beds to jump on were added to the set, and Miss Mary began coming in regularly to check the number’s progress and help evaluate and fine tune who would be dancing in each section.

Costumes arrived and the excited group was fitted and ran into the studio right away to try out their performance fully costumed. You could see how much more visible their character choices became just by the addition of costumes. It was a lot of fun to watch. From this point on they would run the number at least a few time every rehearsal with costumes.

There were tutoring appointments going on constantly and it kept Miss Donna, Miss Victoria, and especially Miss Emily very busy in the weeks lading up to the recital. The group showed up to Dress Rehearsal ready to go and was able to set lighting and spacing in one rehearsal! They were even able to have their second rehearsal that week shortened to just a few polishing run throughs. That’s a pretty big achievement, especially for dancers so young.

This adorable group opened the second act of our recital with a ton of energy and fun, and the whole studio, their fellow Junior and Senior Company members and especially their families could not have been more proud. They did so well that “Hard Knock Life” may be put into competition this coming year for our Competition Team!

If your dancer is 7 years of age or older and would like to be part of our Recital Company, auditions will be this coming January, and we would be so happy to see them there! It really is a special opportunity that we are sure they will love!

Erin Sforza

Erin is the Public Relations Coordinator for Dance Connection. She studied dance from childhood through college and continues to be an active member of the Long Island theatre community. Erin received a BA in both Musical Theatre Performance and History from the University of Tampa, and has utilized aspects of both degrees working in the hospitality industry, as an Event Coordinator for the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, and as the PR/Marketing Coordinator and Group Sales Coordinator for the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale. In addition to being a part of the Dance Connection staff, she is a Travel Consultant affiliated with MouseEarVacations.com and CruisingCo.com.