I’ve had countless experiences performing short routines multiple times for children during camps, school assemblies, and even preschools. It’s challenging because, I want to give them a full cultural dance experience but I also don’t want them to get restless or not be engaged enough. It’s a balancing act of moving the content along and giving them formulate information that will be a lasting positive lifelong memory. I certainly remember some of my school assemblies, not all of which were positive but definitely memorable.
I remember sitting in the gym in kindergarten with the entire school. A young girl was about to perform a classical Indian dance but boys were making fun of her attire. She couldn’t get it together. The heckling paralyzed her and she broke down. The teachers had her corner though and put to shame those bad kids. They encouraged her and she danced. It was a beautiful dance, so poised and professional. I wanted to be like her even though she was initially heckled. Nobody heckled her afterward and she got a standing ovation. It wasn’t a pity party, she floored everyone. I’m so glad she shared herself with the audience. We were all better for it.
Years go by and it’s my turn. The best program I offer is definitely the Hula aspect of my show. With past experiences and consultations, I have streamlined a format that really works with young people I an educational setting. It’s a shorter show for sure with lots of audience participation but still very effective.
When performing for a young audience, work with the administrators to decide how you think the kids would benefit most from it. Also, you are performing more than one show, so let that be known to the organizers that you will have to be compensated for more than one show while still working with their budget. It will be a great opportunity for everyone involved and make sure you make that happen in your presentation if you are a dancer, admin, or parent.