Host to Get the Most: The Email

By: Kimberly Fitch

STEP THREE: THE INFORMATION EMAIL

Score! Your Guest Choreographer’s dates are on the studio calendar, flights are booked & your students are bouncing off the walls with anticipation. Seems like you’ve done everything you need to on your end until the day your guest artist arrives at the front door of your studio, right!? Wrong!!

The most crucial step in the success of your guest choreographer’s piece is the one that occurs between the “You’re booked” and the “Can’t wait to see you in 2 Days!” emails.

Unfortunately, this is the step that is neglected 9 out of 10 times, leaving your choreographer unable to plan your piece prior to arrival. Please note, this step will take only 5 minutes of your time! Yes, 5 minutes! A small price to pay to ensure when you drop your artist off at the airport to go home you will have a completed, age and level appropriate piece that was created in an enjoyable environment waiting for you back at the studio!

If the casting will happen by the choreographer on the spot this step will be modified, but still check in to see if they need any additional info or props and discuss music choice.

So…what is this simple step I speak of?! It is the information email. It’s as easy as can be!Simply send a list stating how many dancers will be in each piece and provide their age and (honest!) level! Additional info regarding their skill sets can be helpful, but the bare minimum is more than enough to get started. This allows the choreographer to choose music and develop a
concept that they believe is best for the specified group, as well as work on movement and staging. Their time at the studio is then spent getting to know the dancers and plugging them into the parts they have created, accordingly. I personally like to know the music inside out so ample time with it beforehand allows me to plan the flow of the dance and formations.

WHY IS ONE EMAIL SO IMPORTANT?

Imagine I tell you that I need you to choreograph an award winning piece in 4 hours. The catch…you’ve never met the dancers and I refuse to let
you know the size of the group, ages, levels or capabilities before you open the door. It could be my 4 most elite 16 year old dancers or 50 dancers ranging from ages 5-18 with beginner to advanced skill levels. Hmmm…You are asking somebody to do a job that you spend an entire season doing in just hours AND to do it with a blindfold on! Sure, you may be able to create
something, but will it be as brilliant as a piece molded specifically to the dancers that features their strengths, hides their weaknesses, ensures stage time for all and is a fully developed concept with intricate staging? Most likely not. A required skill for a guest choreographer is the ability to adapt and create on the spot but most have a framework before entering the room. This email allows them to build the framework.

THE FORMAT

Now, imagine the above scenario but I tell you that you will be working with 10 Advanced Seniors, 3 Intermediate Teens and 4 Advanced Juniors. Life just got easier huh?

Better yet, you receive an email like the one below a couple of weeks ahead of time…

Hey Kimberly!
Below are the dancers for the Jr Jazz Line (21 Dancers) and Jr Contemporary Small Group (first 6 dancers listed). If you need to add dancers to advanced sections I recommend the upper half of the Int/
Adv Group. Leggy girls are Allie, Marcie, Lilly, Jessie, Hope and Riley. Tumblers are Allie, Olivia and Riley.
Of course, if you’re drawn to anyone feel free to use them wherever you’d like.
(In Order of Skill Level )
Name -Age Level Notes
1. Allie (12) Advanced – Strong across the board, great style and tech
2. Tommy (12-boy) Advanced – Great performer, good partner & turner, picks up slowly but will work for it
3. Lilly (11) Advanced- Super flexible! Crazy back and extensions! Beautiful tech but lacks stage presence
4. Samantha (10) Advanced – Has trouble leaping but strong otherwise, super sassy
5. Jessie (12) Int/Adv – Very pretty technique/body lines, working on style
6. Savannah (9) Int/Adv -Young, but great performer, prob my next star, push her
7. Stella (11) Int/Adv – New to team, solid technique & style, gonna be great
8. Hope (11) Int/Adv – Long lines & very flexible, can be shy but strong dancer
9. Bella (10) Int/Adv – Has basics, blends easily, no advanced tech sections
10. Katie (11) Int – Clean Tech, sassy style, basic jumps and turns
11. Emmie (9) Beg/Int – Tiny and cute, great on stage, not strong tech
12. Riley (13) Beg/Int – New to studio, previously a gymnast, VERY flexible, no control yet though
and so on….

Boom! This email is all I need to get to work! NOTE: I said it is sent WEEKS prior, not DAYS!! This is key! If I am at another studio in 12 hour rehearsals the 2 days before I head your way and you finally send this info email to me it is completely pointless. I recently received an information email 2 days before setting what was supposed to be a 50 dancer Teen Production
and it was now a 32 dancer Junior Production. My concepts and song choices were no longer relevant and I was booked until the moment I arrived at their door so I had no chance to do ANY work ahead of time and I had wasted time planning. Needless to say, this makes the process
stressful, makes your choreographer look unprofessional to the dancers and parents because of your lack of communication, they may need to return to finish the piece at a later date, which means they will need to work for free for a weekend and chances are the choreographer will not only not want to return to your studio, but word may spread that you are unprofessional to work with.

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Be professional. Communication is key!