In the News

By Lewis, Kristin | Dance Teacher, November 2007 | Go to article overview

In the News


Lewis, Kristin, Dance Teacher


Use current events to inspire your next recital.

If you are stumped for recital themes, open a newspaper or magazine and you'll find more dance ideas than you can count! From that small, feel-good article about a local farmer to the latest Wall Street headlines, current events offer a world of possibilities. Here are some ideas for incorporating the news into your show.

Intro: Oh, What a World!

Song: "We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel

Discipline: 1980s-style jazz

Levels: intermediate and advanced

Our world is a crazy place, and the next generation will likely inherit it that way. Kick off your current events-themed production with a high-power number that addresses this concept. Play up the '80s theme by dressing dancers in neon-colored blazers with shoulder pads and high-top sneakers. Use as many dancers as possible.

Politics: The Elections

Song: Theme from "Hawaii Five-O"

Discipline: tap

Level: intermediate

The 2008 race for the White House is serious drama, with key players "dancing" around the issues. Set up the stage like a debate, with your students placed in a semicircle, as if standing at a podium. Dress dancers in suits, and distinguish the political left from right with blue and red ties. Then choreograph a rapid-fire tap-dance debate!

World Affairs: Global Issues

Song: "New Day," Kate Havnevik

Disciplines: contemporary or ballet

Level: advanced

In the global scheme of things, a little goes a long way. Play up the idea of large-scale change happening as the result of one small action. For example, many non-governmental organizations are now offering micro-financing programs in third-world countries. Here's how it works: A bank lends a small amount of money to an impoverished person (say, $50) to enable him or her to start a business, such as pottery-making. That person is then able to employ others, which ultimately raises the standard of living for everyone.

These programs have been very successful. Visit villagebanking.org or search "micro-financing" on YouTube to find stories about lives that have been forever changed. They'll inspire you (and your dancers) when you start to choreograph. Begin with one dancer executing a small, understated movement phrase, then build on that series with increasing complexity. Gradually add dancers until the entire stage is awash with color and big movement.

Local News: Hometown Hero

Song: "All Is Full Of Love," Björk

Disciplines: jazz or contemporary

Level: advanced

Look for someone who is doing great work in your town. Did an individual open an animal shelter or raise money to restore a historical building? Scan your local paper for uplifting stories. Firehouses, hospitals and schools are also good resources for ideas. Once you have your subject, interview him or her at length to decide what movement and music is appropriate. You might choose to take a multimedia approach, with video projections of him or her at work. Or, you could interview other people about your subject, and play the recording instead of using music. Let the subject's personality traits guide the choreography.

Hollywood: Celebrity Scandal!

Song: "Jailhouse Rock," Elvis Presley

Disciplines: tap or jazz

Level: advanced

The number of young celebrities in trouble with the law just keeps growing. Get some audience laughs with a dance that satirizes outrageous superstar behavior. Cast students as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie-all of whom have had police run-ins this year-and dress them in jail-bird costumes. Shoulder shrugs and head bops will allude to ditziness.

Crime: Priceless Paintings

Song: "James Bond" theme song

Discipline: jazz

Level: intermediate

2007 proved to be a busy year for art thieves in France. A gang of masked men stole four works in Nice-including a Monet-and two Picassos went missing in Paris (but were later recovered). …

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