Memorizing Choreography

Being able to pick up choreography quickly is an essential skill needed in both the professional and pre-professional dance world. After you’ve picked it up, retaining that information in full detail is equally important. Here at Hawkins, we train mind and body to remember movement. Here are some tips from some of our master memorizers on how to learn and hold on to choreography.

  1. Find Patterns. More often than not, choreographers have a certain idea that motivates choreography. Being able to see patterns like sharp to smooth (etc.) and if they repeat can help when trying to remember choreography later on.
  2. Say What You See.  Especially in tap, saying the step as you do it can help translate the movement from your brain to your body (but make sure you're saying the right things).
  3. Move With the Choreographer. When you are first learning choreography, try to mimic what your choreographer is doing as they do it. This helps develop muscle memory early on.
  4. Pay Attention to Details. Even though they might not seem important compared to the big movements being given, the details make a big difference. Is that foot flexed or pointed? Parallel or turned out? This also helps later on when you are cleaning choreography because you know the movement entirely. 
  5. Mark it on the Sides. This is especially helpful in convention classes where teachers are forced to move quickly. When you split up into groups, stand on the side and watch the dancers on the floor while marking the movement. Notice what you liked and didn't like of the dancers before you and keep it in mind when it’s your turn.

Although the idea of learning and retaining choreography can seem impossible to some, it is a reachable goal. Hopefully these tips can help you to improve your memorization skills and become a better dancer all around! 


by the Hawkins Contemporary
Jazz Company Elite dancers
written by Ashton Titus

Dance Resolution "Don'ts"

Are you setting some dance resolutions for the new year? You might want to consider not doing any of these...

The Show Must Go On!

Every dancer has had at least one embarrassing moment onstage. Costume malfunctions, falls, and technical difficulties are only some of the mishaps that have happened to some of our own Hawkins dancers! Here are some of the greatest.

“My top came undone during Spring Into Dance! I had to fix it on stage!” -Angela Palumbo HCJC 

“When I was five I was an angel in the Nutcracker. When we had to run in a circle my halo flew off frisbee-style into the audience and was never seen again! I kept on dancing!” -Baylee Ferrerra HCJC

“In Coppelia I was in the wrong spot for a lift!” -Israel Foss former HCJC

“My top came off during recital when I was ten! I had to retie it during a section where I was in the back!” Meagan Patterson HCJC 

“At a competition we were walking on at the beginning of a piece and I had to sneeze reallybadly! I tried to hold it in but ended up sneezing on a girl’s back! Funny thing was, we still got a platinum award!” -Ashton Titus HCJC

“During a tech rehearsal my shirt fell off, and there were people in the audience watching!” -Sage Craig HTC

‘Once at a competition I was so pumped about going on stage, and when I went to perform I whipped my head so fast that boogers came out and I couldn't wipe my face! The worst part was that I was wearing a fake ponytail clip that kept sticking to my face!” Kate Xiong former HCJC

 “I performed a dance at Great America and had a blue slushy stain on my tank top! It smelt like blueberries!” -Lauren Howell HCJC

“Once at a competition I ran into the backdrop and made the funniest face! They caught it on camera too!” -Mckenna Goodall HCJC

As you can see, everyone makes mistakes. The important thing to remember is that the audience probably doesn't know! Get back up, put on a smile, and keep dancing because after all, the show must go on!



Settling in to the New Season

Welcome to our Anniversary Season! If this is your first season with us at Hawkins School of Performing Arts or your tenth, we have some tips for parents and dancers.

For Dancers

1.      Pack your bags. Our dance bags are our best friends. They carry shoes, socks, bobby pins, bandaids, and so much more! But they do tend to get hectic… and smell… So start off the season well! Empty your bag and give it a spin in the washing machine (or spray some air freshener in it if it’s not washing machine safe). Make sure you have everything you need!

2.     Stash your bags. When you're in a class with 16+ people, there might not be a lot of room for everyone’s bags (especially in some of our smaller studios). Please store your bags in the kitchen, in the cubbies in the student lounge, or in the hallway outside the door of the room you're in class to save space. We have many new dancers and we want to make sure our studios have room for everyone!

3.      Find your way around. Even for dancers who have been with us for years, finding the room you're supposed to be in can be a challenge. Luckily we have the class schedule for that room posted outside the door year-round! If this can’t help you then our staff in the front office can help you find your way around! If you are taking multiple classes in a row, it can be helpful to find where all of your classes take place before your first class.


4.     Dress to impress. Every teacher has their preferences as to what you wear, but our dress code online is a general idea as to what we expect. Please remember that we have dancers of all ages at our studio and we try to give them a good impression as to what is appropriate. We know that it can get hot, but loose fitting tank tops and shorts are a perfect way to stay cool in contemporary, jazz, and tap classes!

5.     Open up! Our outstanding faculty is here to help you grow! So don’t be shy! Introduce yourself! And the students in your class are equally as excited to dance with you!  Have you been with us for years? Then introduce yourself to someone new and make a new dance friend. We pride ourselves on our healthy, loving, family oriented environment! Take a deep breath and enjoy your time!

For Parents

1.      Traffic can be a little crazy right around the times classes change.  A couple tips.

o   Do not try to wait in the parking lot for your dancer if there isn’t a parking space. There are too many cars and kids (including little people with our neighbors next door) so it is very dangerous. Come in and pick up your student – and say “hi” to some terrific parents and staff!

o   Treat the parking lot like it is one way – entering near the gas station and exiting near SuperFit.

o   No parking in the lot? There is parking behind the building. Head back out to Woodmere and turn in the next driveway. Or head behind the building to the right. There is always parking in those areas.

o   Trying to head north on Folsom Blvd.? Don’t try to make a lefthand turn from Woodmere. Instead, head west on Woodmere, make a right on Park Way and another right on Park Shore to reach the light with a left turn signal. Faster and safer!

2.     Forgot a snack or water bottle? Your dancer got a run in their tights? The Booster Club has you covered!  Snacks, drinks, and tights are all for sale in the lobby.  Need something beyond tights or the great Hawkins dance wear offered in the office? Visit Capital Costumes and tell them you dance at Hawkins for a discount!

3.      We all love seeing how our dancers are progressing, but too many people in the hallways is dangerous.  We need the space for dancers and their bags. And quite frankly, sometimes dancers don’t want us to watch, especially as they are just learning something. Please remember that the first week of the month is when you can view your students through the windows. Otherwise, have a seat in one of our comfortable seating areas.

4.     Wondering where to go if you have a question? The staff in the front office is your first stop. Have an accounting issue? Visit the staff in the back office – you can find it by going through the kitchen and it is the first door on your right.

Hopefully these tips will help you acclimate to a new studio or find out something that might just make your day easier!

Kori (mom) and Ashton (dancer) have been part of the Hawkins family since 2006.


The Summer Dancer: How to survive the off-season and come back feeling good

We've all been there before: a summer of relaxing and free time when all of a sudden, it’s dance time again! You come back feeling tired, weaker, and not as flexible as when you left. Wouldn’t it be great to come back feeling good? Here are some ways to stay happy and healthy on the off-season:

1. Never stop dancing

Summer is a great time to relax and allow our bodies to rest after a grueling season, but we can't stop all together. Our bodies are fine-tuned machines and if we stop using them, they break. The best way to keep your body in dancer mode is to dance! Whether it's at a summer intensive or in your room, keep moving!

2. Switch up your routine

We all have our go-to workouts that we can fit in here and there during our busy lives, but summer is a great time to explore! With more free time and better weather we can get outside and have a longer sweat-sesh. Grab a friend and go on a run, bike ride, swim, or yoga class. If you can’t get to a friend, explore the internet to find a new routine that suits you! (we love )

3. Stay connected

We could all say that our teammates are some of our closest friends! So it’s kind of a bummer when we have to say goodbye for a couple months. Intensives and master classes are a good way to catch up, but that is a time to be focused. In order to keep up with your friends, make sure to get together every once in a while! Even if a couple members are across the country dancing, arrange a group video chat! (the app oovoo allows more than two people to talk at once)

4. Take some down time

Especially for injury prone dancers, summer is a great time to recoup. That being said, don’t just sit and allow your injuries to go unattended! Ice, physical therapy, and chiropractic therapy are great ways to get your bodies back into peak condition. Once you're feeling better, make sure to keep your body strong by exercising and stretching often. 

5. Get back into the swing of things

Summer is the time for late nights, sleeping in, and eating not so well. This is all great, until you form a habit of it that you carry with you when the season starts. But don't worry! There's a solution for this problem. Get all of your partying done before the last week or two of summer. During that time, slowly start to work your way back to going to sleep and getting up at a normal time (dancers need anywhere from 8-10 hours of sleep and often don’t even get 7!). Make sure you're eating at about the same times everyday also, as this can affect your sleep patterns.

Summer is a great time to get away from the hectic world of dance, but it is sometimes an unpleasant surprise when the season starts up again! Don’t let it catch you by staying shape and staying happy in your few months of free time!

by Ashton Titus
Hawkins Contemporary Jazz Company Elite dancer

Photo of Meagan Patterson, Hawkins Contemporary Jazz Company Elite and Hawkins Ballet Company Apprentice dancer, photo taken by Baylee Ferrerra ,Hawkins Contemporary Jazz Company Elite dancer

Tips for Surviving Showcase Week: A how-to guide to the most fun and hectic week at Hawkins!

Every year, the students at Hawkins School of Performing Arts work together to share their hard work over the year. Although this week is a lot of fun, it can be disorienting for parents and students. Whether it’s your first year with us or your 13th, here’s our how-to guide to showcase week.

sometimes they take better pictures than we do, so check their phones!

sometimes they take better pictures than we do, so check their phones!

For Dancers, From a Dancer

All of your classes and rehearsals are about to pay off! Let your parents worry about logistics, and you focus on your dancing!

When you get to the theater... Tech week can be hard to navigate, but your teachers will explain a lot of things like when to get there and where to meet. That being said, here are some things that they may not have mentioned:

  • Find your friends when you get to the theater. Being with the people in your class will make things go smoothly when trying to get photos taken. If someone is missing 10 minutes after you get there, tell your teacher so they can try to contact them (or contact them yourself if you can).
  • Be patient throughout the whole process. Everyone is trying their hardest to get your pictures taken and get you on stage. Enjoy the time and have fun!
  • Stay stretched and warm. Nothing is worse than finally getting on stage and realizing your grande battement is a dazzling 45 degrees. Stretch on the sides and do a quick warmup before for safe stretching.
  • Make sure you're ready. Come with your hair and makeup done. The mirror space is limited so it’s always safe to come ready to go. There will be time to put your costume on and do some last minute things (lipstick for example) but that is about it.
  • Stay hydrated. Water. Lots of it.
  • Come prepared. There is always downtime backstage, so have some entertainment. Fully charged electronics (there aren't many outlets), card games, books, and art supplies are good (especially if you are one of our younger dancers).


  • Some clean snacks are good but make sure you have something to cover your costume to avoid a catastrophe. Some good snacks are granola bars, bananas, oranges, cheese sticks, fruit snacks, etc. (please remember that we are a nut free studio).
  • Have fun! This is a great time to bond with classmates and teachers! The memories you make here you will never forget.

Ashton Titus is a dancer on the Pre-Professional Hawkins Contemporary Jazz Company. This will be her 13th Showcase with Hawkins.

For Parents, From a Parent



Showcase week is a fun time – the culmination of a year of growth in dance and a chance for everyone to enjoy the hard work of our dancers. That said, it can be stressful and a bit confusing if you haven’t been through one. And our kids pick up on our stress. To make this the fun, easy week it should be, here are a few tips that have served me well:

  • Plan ahead. Everything is better with a bit of forethought. To start, make sure you know all the times your dancer needs to be at the theater – for photos, tech rehearsal and actual Showcase performances. Yes, tech rehearsals are during the day during the week, but if you can get the time off, it does help. And it’ s an experience you want to share with your dancer, especially if you’ve not been through a Showcase before. If not, reach out to one of the many dancer families around you. There are so many that are willing to help get dancers where they need to be.
  • Rehearse. Have your child run their piece for you at home. Even better, do it in costume, hair and makeup. This is where you’ll learn that you really do need more bobby pins than you’ve ever seen or realize that a costume strap does need to be adjusted. Help your dancer out so that they feel completely comfortable come show time. This is also a good time to go over backstage rules and expectations with your dancer.
  • Make a List. At least a week before rehearsal, make a list of everything you need. Things on my list include costume(s), tights (make sure you have the color your teacher has specified), accessories, shoes, hairnets, bobby pins, and the right makeup. I always have backups for tights, hairnets and bobby pins.
  • Label EVERYTHING. 15 matching costumes, tights, and shoes in basically the same size in a crammed dressing room have a tendency to look the same.
  • Make a Survival Kit. Pack a survival kit ahead of time. A first aid kit, sewing kit, clear nail polish are all helpful to have on hand along with snacks, water and entertainment. Ashton shared some great ideas above.
  • Timeliness is Key. Whether it is tech rehearsals or Showcase, be on time. In fact, be early. You don’t want to be that one parent who stresses out the other parents, teachers and dancers because your child is not there for a picture, rehearsal or show. Plan for traffic and mishaps.
  • Ok, maybe patience is key. When mishaps do happen, don’t add to that parent’s stress. Try to see how you can help if possible. And when things are running late, take a deep breath. Things rarely run too far behind. While you’re waiting around, pick up programs and tickets, have a snack, or take some photos.
  • Take a photo or two. This is the one time when you are allowed to take photos and videos in the theater (but please don't try to snap a group photo during the professional shoot). Yes, you will probably have a teacher in the video but looking back, that sometimes adds to the charm. Professional videos are available for purchase during the show and of course you can schedule professional photos too. And don’t forget to take pictures when they aren’t on stage. Some of the candid moments are the best!
  • Watch other rehearsals. Not only will you get to see pieces that aren’t in your particular showcase, your dancers will get a sense of who other teachers are and their styles. Your ballerina may decide they want to give tap a try after seeing a great routine!
  • Enjoy the show. If you aren’t assigned to be backstage, know that your kids are in great hands. Some of these backstage parents have been doing this for more than a decade and your children will be well cared for. And let’s face it, they usually pay better attention to someone else anyway!
  • Mostly, have fun! Your dancers have worked hard all year and can’t wait to share what they’ve learned!


This week is one of the most fun times of the year. Dancers get the chance to perform for family and friends, and parents get to watch their kids do what they love. If it’s your first showcase, we hope that this guide has given you an idea of what it’s like, and if you are a recital pro, a reminder that this is going to be a lot of fun!

Kori Titus has been helping Ashton through 13 Showcases to date.