How We Choose Recital Music & Costumes

For dance teachers everywhere, fall means it’s time to start planning for recital.  By August, many are scouring their music playlists and checking costume websites waiting for the new collections.  When classes start, we think about what themes might suit each class and consider if a song we love will work for the skills we’d like to showcase.  We try to find music and a concept that inspires us to create great choreography and that we think our students will love.

Veteran dance families know the planning and preparation for recital well – and we’re happy to shine some light on the process for new-to-dance or new-to-The-Pointe families.  Just in time for Costume Week at the studio, here’s a glimpse into the music and costume selection for recital.

Performing in the dance recital is the culmination of everything students learn all year long in dance class.  Even though we won’t focus on recital choreography until much later, the organizational work for this June’s recital has been happening behind the scenes for months.  Venue contracts are signed, the theme is determined, rehearsal and performance dates are set. Planning our three recitals truly feels like planning 3 weddings on the same day!

You’ll see the costumes and music selected for your dancer’s class(es) this week at the studio and on Facebook. (If you don’t already, follow us here so you don’t miss out!)  Here’s how we choose the costumes we select for each class!  Our instructors take great care in choosing the music and costume for each recital piece.

  1. What’s the theme?

    • Instructors vary in their method of determining their recital routines. Maybe they hear music on the radio, check the lyrics and content, then decide that catchy beat is perfect for their tap class.  Sometimes it’s hours of searching on Spotify or iTunes. Most teachers choose their music and theme before selecting their costumes. At The Pointe, our music selection is grounded by our YPAD Certification. We check the lyrics and ensure the messaging in the music is appropriate.
  2. Where do we shop?

    • There are dozens of dance costume companies that advertise to us. As a studio with 80+ recital classes per week and a thriving competitive program, we purchase a LOT of costumes. (Over 1,000 individual costumes per year!)  We choose to support costume companies that have proven to have great quality and stick to their advertised production and shipping timelines. We strive to be good stewards of the costume money we are entrusted with by our families and choose to support costume companies who produce age-appropriate and positive costumes for our kids.  One costume company is YPAD Certified! We encourage our instructors to order from this company whenever they can. We believe in voting with our dollars and supporting the companies who are doing the right thing by putting the integrity and health of dancers above trends. Additionally, we choose not to support costume companies who produce and advertise hypersexualized costumes for kids.
  3. How do we choose?

    • Teachers work within a budget to ensure we can keep costumes as affordable as possible.
    • All teachers submit their costume choices to the studio,
      • Miss Vanessa personally double checks each costume and recital song to make sure they line up with our YPAD guidelines – and to be sure we don’t have duplicate costumes in the same show.
  4. How do we order?

    • First, we measure dancers for costumes in class with a sizing kit from each manufacturer that we order from.  Companies use slightly different sizing charts, so having dancers try on a leotard that is the same size exactly as the costume we’ll order is the best system.  When a dancer is in between sizes, we always order the larger size and we always account for expected growth between measuring time and our performances.
    • Next, we reveal costumes during Costume Week (October 24 – 30).  We post on Facebook and show all of the students and parents during class.  It is SO FUN to see a class get excited about their recital routine!
    • After measuring, we organize our orders, double-check everything, and place our orders.
  5. When do they come in?

    • Costumes are ordered in November. Some may ship out in only a few weeks!  Others that are manufactured overseas or made-to-order will take up to 5 months to come in.  We know ordering costumes in November for a June recital sounds crazy, but we’ve learned through experience that this timeline ensures we have everything before picture week.
  6. What happens after they arrive?

    • We print labels for every costume, triple-check that everything is correct, label each costume, sort by class, and then distribute during class.  Dancers try on their costume in class to make sure everything fits before they take it home!
    • In May, we’ll have a day at the studio available to help any dancers that need a slight adjustment.  Taking in straps to create a perfect custom fit is easy and makes costumes fit just right!

When we start to receive costumes later this year, we’ll update the blog with tips on caring for and keeping costumes organized.  Costuming three full recitals is a big undertaking – and we are fortunate to have amazing instructors choosing beautiful costumes and some gifted organizers in at the front desk to make it all happen!