Dance Recital Themes: 7 Brainstorming Ideas

by Grosh Backdrops and Projections

It’s that time again, signing up new dancers, thinking of the incredible year to come and now… what are we going to do!? What performances will the troupe do?! What themes or shows will the company dance to this year? AHHHH! Decisions, decisions!!

One of the hardest tasks as a dance teacher is picking the perfect themes or shows for a new dance year. It could be rather intimidating going through the countless shows or possible themes that would best showcase the growth and talents of your dancers.  How does one pick a dance theme?  There are several approaches you can take to help ease the process. The following are some of the possible areas you can draw your themes and show ideas from:

What’s new on Broadway?

New productions are constantly arriving on Broadway, many with hot show ideas and songs that your dancers and audience will love. Keeping up with the latest Playbill news is sure to give you the jump on what will take the world by storm and put your dance company ahead of the performance game!

Grosh Digital Projections is one of the perfect sources if you want to use new releases and ideas to hit the stage.


Enjoy The Classics

You can never go wrong with classic musicals. Some shows have never stopped being a hot commodity in the world of dance and theater. Musicals like Wicked, The Little Mermaid, or Once on this Island will never go out of style, will always be fun to produce, and are a treat for all audiences.


Keep it Seasonal

The time of the year is another idea to keep in mind! Are there holidays coming up? Is it springtime? Keeping seasons and important dates on the table will help guide your thoughts and ideas and possibly determine the ideal show for your troupe.

For instance, a snow themed backdrop would be a perfect way to highlight your rendition of the Nutcracker or any other wintry performance. Maybe a flowery setting to welcome the arrival of spring? A haunted house or graveyard for that spooky dance number around All Hallow’s Eve? The dance steps almost create themselves!


Fun Locations and Events

Other ideas to consider include unique destinations or fun and interesting activities. Ask yourself, “Is there a particular destination I’ve always enjoyed? Are there cultures my dancers would like to showcase?” This is an especially great idea if you’re looking for ways to add more diversity to your classroom.

New Orleans Jazz? Africa? Europe? The beach? Check out this list of month-long national observances for some inspiration. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month–a great time to learn some Hawaiian-inspired dances!

Not sure about far away places? Then how about a fun event, instead? Transport your audience to Mardi Gras or a hootenanny! Turn your dancers into tightrope walkers, clowns, and acrobats in a Circus! The ideas are pretty endless.


Time Travel

How about getting far out with some fun 50s doo wop, 60s tie dye, 70s disco or 80s montages? Throwback music is incredibly popular and opens up the possibility of introducing new dance styles to your studio. Incorporate the Charleston as part of a Roaring 1920s theme, for example!

Retro events are fun and allow parents and grandparents to relive special times in their lives. It also gives parents a chance to connect with your dancers under that nostalgic light.


Popular Music

Celebrate the variety that the music industry has to offer and dance to it!

As Dance Teachers, finding music that your dancers can connect with and that gets them excited can often mean sorting through the latest teen songs. Pop culture can be hard to navigate (especially when looking for age-appropriate content), but with luck you’ll find your next dance gem!

There is a world of music based themes to choose from that you can set your own unique dance twist to. At Grosh Backdrops we have backdrop options for every genre: Hip Hop, Rock, Ballet, Country, Classical, etc.!


Mix and match… make it your own

It’s easy to get stuck in a dance rut, performing the same show year after year. Instead, how about selecting several different scenes from well-known shows?! How about songs from popular artists?

Halloween Theme Example

For instance, say you’d like to put on a Halloween themed production. Begin by jotting down some related shows/musicals/songs that are associated with this spooky time of the year, such as:

  • Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • …or maybe the Monster Mash!

After writing down your ideas, think about some of the more memorable musical scenes from each production. One of the more well-knows dance numbers from the Rocky Horror Picture Show is the “Time Warp.” As a Halloween enthusiast, I would be over the moon to see a local dance company’s rendition of this timeless dance.

Next, put in some of the hits like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”! Nothing would get a crowd on their feet faster than hearing a classic tune and watching their friends and loved ones get down to it… makes for great memories as well as social media posts!


There you have it! A few tidbits that may help narrow down the search for your next show. No need to fear drawing a huge dancing blank on your stage; it just takes stepping outside the box and letting your imagination take off.

Although making the ideal show is the goal, it is important to keep in mind that dance is fun and meant to be enjoyed on every level of the process, even the technical parts. The only person who can limit you is yourself, so let those creative juices flow!


Your Scenic/Prop Providers

Your regular consultant at Grosh Backdrops and Projections is a great source for performance ideas. Grosh Backdrops and Projections has been working with dance teachers for 85 years, which allows us to help you bring your production to life. Don’t be afraid to ask!!