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I still remember my first ballet recital. I was 9 years old, and I have to admit that it was the biggest event of my life. My whole class practiced for months, and we were all very excited to perform in front of our families. My tutor gave out the dance recital programs a month earlier. I think my mother still has mine. As you can imagine, it was designed all with white and pink elements and a ballerina figure on the front page.

A Dance recital is one of the most significant events dance studios throw. If you run a new dance studio, a dance recital is an excellent opportunity to invite potential students and market your business. You get to showcase the talent of your instructors through an astonishing performance from your current students. What is as important as the dance recital itself is the dance recital program.

Your dance recital program is the very first thing you show student families and people you want to target. So, it is safe to say that the recital program is your first impression, your marketing strategy’s front-liner.

Creating a dance recital program is simple because all programs consist of the same four information segments. What matters here is the design of your dance recital program. Not all new dance studios have a graphic designer, and not all studio owners know how to design a program. So I wrote this blog post to teach you how to create your own and included some templates and dance recital themes for you to use!


What Is a Dance Recital Program?

A dance recital program is an invitation to your dance recital event. Think of it as a booklet that contains all the information about your event. Who’s going to perform, the time and date, and more information about the dance recital theme and your studio itself. The reason why you need to pay attention when designing this program is that it is a way to market your dance studio and also a good opportunity to get sponsors for your event. You can design the program based on your dance recital theme. What you have to ensure is that all the information is there and the design is in line with your studio’s brand identity.


How to Create a Dance Recital Program

Each dance recital program consists of 4 main sections:

  • Information about the dance studio
  • Setlist
  • Information about the dancers
  • Sponsors and advertising information

These sections have to be simple, informative, and straightforward. You can also add extra content like quotes to make it amusing. Your dance recital program’s design must be simple too. Let’s first talk about the content included in the program, and then I will give you some tips on designing the recital program.


2. Information about the dance studio

The first piece of information you need to share on your dance recital program is a summary of your dance studio. You can write a “director’s note” to thank the attendees and give them detailed information about who you are, what your dance studio’s purpose and values are, and what the dance recital is about. Basically, give your audience a brief review of your dance studio history, your directors, yourself as the studio owner, recital choreographers, and what the inspiration behind the dance recital is. Then give some details about the show itself and prepare your audience for what they are about to see. Try to keep this information brief and short. Don’t bore out the audience with non-related information, and certainly, don’t give away the whole plot of the show. You need to give them just enough information to keep them excited to see the show.


2. Setlist

The set list is a complete view of the show’s schedule. All the songs and dance groups should be listed in the order they are performed. The music has to contain details like the composer, songwriter, and song title. Below is an example of what your music details should look like:


Get Lucky


Performed by Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, Written by Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, Produced by Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo


After adding each song’s details, write the names of the dancers performing with that song as the dance group. Also, if you have any intermissions or breaks, remember to include them. This way, attendees will have an idea of when they can communicate or take snacks.


3. Information about the dancers

The most important part of any dance recital is the dancers themselves. Your dancers are a valuable asset because they reflect what your dance instructors are capable of. You have to showcase them each. There are two ways to include your dancers in the dance recital program. You can either add them to the setlist, as I mentioned in the earlier section, or dedicate a couple of pages to the complete list of their names. Whichever you choose, add a group photo of them all together with their choreographers and dance instructors.


4. Sponsors and advertising information

Having sponsors for your dance recital is a great way to earn some extra bucks for your dance studio. There are some companies that can give services and products for your recital, like rental agencies and caterings, in return for advertising them in your recital program. You can include a page or two for advertising spaces. You can sell these in full pages, half pages, and quarter pages. You can also add their business cards to your program if you do not wish to have dedicated spaces for advertising. You can rate your prices like this:

  • Full page: $20 – $200
  • Half page: $10 – $70
  • Quarter page: $5 – $45
  • Business card: $5 – $20

Using advertising is a good way to get the word out about your dance studio through your business associates. It is both beneficial to you and the companies that work with you. However, if you don’t want to do advertising, you can still earn some money using your program. You can give parents the option to buy space to honor their children. What you have to do is to provide spaces in your program and ask parents to submit a photo and an encouraging message for their dancer.

These are the main sections you must include in your dance recital program. Now, remember I talked about amusing elements you can also add? One of them is adding dance-related quotes. For example, these are great quotes to add to the cover of the recital program:


“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” – Martha Graham

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful…This is power, it is glory on earth, and it is yours for the taking.” – Agnes De Mille

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment.” – Erol Ozan

“Dance is the poetic baring of the soul through motion.” – Scott Nilsson

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.” – Oprah Winfrey

“People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.” – Martha Graham

“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.” – Ruth St. Denis

“Dance is an art that imprints on the soul. It is with you every moment, it expresses itself in everything you do.” – Shirley MacLaine


Dance Recital Programs — Print or Digital?

There’s a whole controversy around printing dance recital programs. The issue is whether you should print them or send them via email, and there are people advocating on both sides. If you think about printing, it’s a nice gesture as you give your dancers and their families a token for a precious memory. But, printing has its own disadvantages:

  • There are bleed and margin aspects you have to take care of.
  • Because of the whole problem around RGB and CMYK color codes, the colors look different on screen and on print.
  • It’s an additional cost and not exactly cheap if you want high-quality results.
  • It’s terrible for nature. You don’t know how many programs are kept, recycled, or simply thrown away.

These are some of the reasons why we see more and more dance studios turning paperless and using email instead of print media. Knowing these, digital invitations and recital programs are a great solution to prevent errors and additional costs and if you want to run a green business, this is definitely the way. Of course, emailing the programs yourself can be hard work and end up feeling impersonal — if you have more than a handful of students in your class (or more than a few classes in your studio), you can’t exactly write out each email by hand. And what if you want to send different recital programs to each class? That’s exactly one of those places where you’ll need a dance studio management software like RunSensible.


How to Manage a Dance Recital

Planning and managing a dance recital is a complicated job. Especially when you want to generate new leads and impress potential students. You need an organized guest list and effective communication with planners, caterers, vendors, and rental agencies. You also need to make sure dancers and instructors are attending classes. You need to develop a marketing plan to guarantee your invitees will attend the event. There’s just so much scheduling and managing to do. But, I have a solution that will help you manage everything without going crazy.

Invest in a dance studio management software

No matter if you are new to the business or running a huge dance studio, you can always benefit from using a dance studio management software. Think about all the administrative work you do in a day. Handling student sign-ups, scheduling classes, paying staff members and instructors, calls, text messages, emails, and the usual daily to-do tasks. Now think about software that can handle all of your work for you. Sounds pretty impossible. But, well, nothing’s impossible, right?

Studio management software is apps created to manage and automate your workflow. They can help you schedule classes, automatically send emails and text messages, collect information from sign-up forms, and so much more. They are a smart tool to use if you need to put down some weight off your shoulders.

There are different types of studio management software, each focusing on one or a few main features. This means that you have to buy at least 3 different software to run your business. My solution is going for the all-in-one tool, RunSensible. With RunSensible, you get all the features you need without emptying your pockets.

RunSensible can help you organize your classes and appointments online. You can automate all your tedious and repetitive daily tasks. One cool feature is the timesheet. Each instructor can be a user on RunSensible. They can track their class times so you would have a clear idea of how much you should pay them by the hour.

Why do you need RunSensible for planning dance recitals? Schedule it on your online calendar, use the email marketing tool and design studio to create an email template, and then automate sending your dance recital program to your email list. Need more? Handle all your business phone calls from RunSensible and coordinate all communications with the catering and rental agencies.


How to Design a Dance Recital Program

Designing a recital program can be a tricky business. You either need to have a graphic designer or hire one. That’s just another additional cost. Chances are that the design would not turn out the way you like. This is a sensitive subject because you don’t want to overuse different design elements, you need readable fonts, you have to manage everything in 6 to 8 pages maximum, and you have to ensure the program is designed within your style guideline rules.

The best way to ensure everything turns out the way you like is to use recital program templates. You don’t actually have to be a pro-designer to personalize templates. Everything is right there in a template. You just have to take care of colors and fonts and add your own information. I created two templates for you. Every element in these templates is customizable. You can also edit and add design elements to match your dance recital theme.

If you have the basic knowledge of using Adobe Illustrator, download this template. It comes as a PDF file. You can edit all the layers and personalize the template to your needs.

If you are new to graphic design, use this Canva template. Canva is a web-based design tool that is simple to use and full of design resources. You can find any font, shape, image, or even gradient and stickers by searching.


Best Dance Recital Themes for 2022

Have you planned a theme for your dance recital? It’s a perfect idea because it will give you the inspiration to choreograph the dance and even come up with a storyline. Below is a list of trending dance recital themes that will be fun for your students to perform and engage the audience:

1. Music at the movies

  • You can choose a “movie night” theme.
  • Choose famous movie soundtracks.
  • Have a red carpet for the dancers to walk down.
  • Offer popcorns as snacks.
  • Award dancers with Academy Awards Oscar-like trophies.

Song example: Night Fever – Bee Gees


2. Music around the world

  • Ask students to choose a song from their country of choice and choreograph a routine based on the song and heritage.
  • Create a map as a decoration piece. Have each dancer mark where their song is from.
  • Design the program to look like a passport.

Song example: Japan Garden – Howard Kasschau


3. A tribute to my hero

  • Have each dancer choose a song that is related to the hero in their personal life (e.g., a grandfather’s favorite song)
  • Ask each student to bring an object that reminds them of their hero and display them as decorations.
  • Include each dancer’s hero and a short description of them in the program.


4. All that jazz

  • Ask a jazz ensemble to play the songs live.
  • Jazz and blues songs are perfect for contemporary choreography.
  • Decorate the venue like an open-mic cafe with a stage for the dancers to perform.

Song example: My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone


5. The Great Gatsby

  • Decorate the venue in dark green, black, and gold. Choose patterns according to The Great Gatsby movie.
  • Choose songs from the movie’s soundtracks.
  • Design 20s-inspired costumes for dancers.

Song examples: Green Light – Lorde


6. A musical journey through history

  • Choose songs from different musical eras that introduced genres like Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Rock and Roll.
  • Group songs based on the time periods.
  • Design costumes based on the time periods for dancers.

Song examples: Four Seasons – Vivaldi


7. Disney Classics

  • Great for a children’s dance recital.
  • Include elements like Mickey Mouse and Disney princesses in decoration.
  • Use the famous Disney castle on the cover of your program.
  • Choose the music from the Disney classics.

Song example: Friend Like Me – Robin Williams


8. On Broadway

  • Great opportunity to come up with a storyline.
  • Preferably, book a theater as the venue
  • Choose songs from Broadway musicals.
  • Design costumes based on the acts dancers are performing.

Song example: Schuyler Sisters – Hamilton Original Score


9. Elemental

  • Divide the recital into four sections to represent fire, water, earth, and wind.
  • Choose decorations that would resonate with the elements.
  • Choose different genres for each element. For example, upbeat pop music for fire and classical flowy music for water.

Song example: Earth Song – Michael Jackson


10. High School Musical

  • Great for a teen’s dance class.
  • Choose songs about high school days.
  • Decorate the venue like a classroom.

Song examples: Get’cha Head in the Game – High School Musical Original Score


11. Icons of music

  • Decorate the venue like a hall of fame.
  • Ask students to pick songs from music legends.
  • Display chosen music legends in the program.

Song example: Burning love – Elvis Presley


12. Once upon a time

  • Another great dance recital theme idea for a children’s class.
  • Choose a fairytale and dance through the story.
  • Use fairytale elements in decoration.

Song example: Swan Theme – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky


13. Boogie night

  • Use disco elements to decorate the venue. Definitely have a disco ball.
  • Choose music from the 80s
  • Design colorful 80s-inspired costumes for the dancers.

Song example: All Night Long – Lionel Richie

These are just some examples of a dance recital theme idea. You can absolutely come up with your own dance recital theme. Choosing a theme depends on the dance types you teach at your studio, your recital dancers’ age range, and your students’ level of dance skills.


To Wrap Up

Dance recitals are a great opportunity to be the talk of the town. Parents will talk about their children performing at your dance studio. You can invite interested students to have a ‘demo’ of what you teach at your studio. Choose the recital theme that best represents your studio and classes. Create your dance recital program by the guideline I gave you in this blog post, and you will be good to go. Preparing for a dance recital is a hefty job, so make sure you use a dance studio software. you have RunSensible on your side. RunSensible will handle everything from marketing and lead generation to invoicing and payment — all you have to do is enjoy your dance studio’s special day!



What is a dance recital program?

It’s the invitation booklet containing all the information attendees need to know about a dance recital.

What tools should I use to design a recital program?

You can use tools like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and Canva.

Should I have a dance recital theme?

A theme can give your dance recital a meaning or a storyline so choreographies and other important elements of your recital can get organized.

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