The Telluride AIDS Benefit Student fashion show features local fashion and talent in a production directed, choreographed and starring Telluride High School students. All proceeds from the show support the high school’s AIDS education program.

The format of this student-directed event can easily be translated to different contexts in order to raise awareness and funds for any cause.

This is a student-led production. Teachers should be available to provide input and guidance when solicited, but should serve primarily as supervisors, whose role is to facilitate student leadership and collaboration.

Some things to consider before you get started

  1. What is your mission? What are your goals?

  2. What local organizations might you partner with in order to achieve those goals?

  3. Where will funds raised by the event go?

  4. Can you pull this off logistically? (e.g. do you have access to audition, rehearsal, and performance spaces?)

Solidify your cause

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?

  2. Who will your primary audience be – students, community, parents?

  3. Create an “elevator pitch” for your cause.

  4. Partner with a local organization you want to support.

  5. Is there a school club that would be a good fit as the umbrella organization for this production? (e.g. Key Club, Philanthropy, Diversity, Environmental, World health, etc.)

Leadership Roles

  1. Identify a faculty member at your school to support/oversee the production process. Determine what student leadership roles will need to be filled and who will fill them.

  2. Possible roles: director or co-directors, choreographers (helps to have participants with backgrounds in dance), artistic director (set design), clothing acquisition, stage manager, tech experts for video, music, sound, and lighting.

  3. Once student leaders have been selected, have them go into the community and determine if there is support for the cause. Make sure they let potential supporters know what will be asked of them.

Host auditions

  1. Create a short questionnaire for auditioning students that challenge them to express why they want to be involved. Also be sure to collect contact information and scheduling conflicts.

  2. Depending on the size of your school, you may want photos of each person auditioning so you can reference them easily throughout the casting process.

  3. Use a fast song and a slow song with continuous beats; have two people who have proven themselves to be good walkers set an example and then give the others a chance to practice.

  4. What to look for in auditions: smiling, confidence, eye contact, ability to walk to the beat. You might consider filming auditions for easy reference after the fact.

Creative process + Show Production

  1. Decide on a theme for the show. This may, but doesn’t necessarily have to, correspond with the cause itself.

  2. Once the cast is selected, meet to discuss roles, goals, theme and purpose of the show, ground rules, expectations, scheduling, etc.

  3. Select music with the choreographer and leadership team. Ask for recommendations from friends. Start thinking about what kinds of clothing might look best with each line.

  4. Consider the role of lighting, projections, etc.

Guidelines for participation

  1. Make clear to participants that even though they are volunteers, they must be committed to the cause and passionate about contributing to something larger.

  2. Have representatives from your partner organization(s) come to your school and provide students with important information about the cause and their work (suggest that they bring videos and/or other engaging educational materials).

  3. Always keep the cause at the forefront; make sure this is expressed through the creative construction of the show.

  4. Make clear that participants may be expected to commit a lot of time to the show. Consider whether your school might give students community service or other credit for participation.

  5. Have each student sign a permission slip/waiver. The advising faculty member should be able to provide these for you.

Event Logistics

  1. Is this a school sanctioned event or an outside event? If it is school sanctioned, you will need the permission of a principal or superintendent. Note: it is likely best to have the support of the school so that you can use their venues (libraries, amphitheater, rehearsal spaces) for free.

  2. Make sure you secure a space for practice and performance far enough in advance. Note: if you don’t have access to an indoor theater space, consider whether you might host your event for free outdoors.

  3. Do you have access to sound and lighting systems?

  4. Consider whether you may need to solicit outside help with things like designing/building sets.

  5. Get in touch with local people who may be interested in volunteering as hair and makeup artists.

  6. Create a rehearsal schedule that takes into account students’ other commitments. It is important that students be present at all rehearsals.

  7. Create a program to thank your community sponsors.

  8. Consider if you should have a way to share with the audience who sponsors are during the show (e.g. a projection with the company’s logo as part of the set design).

  9. Brainstorm creative and effective advertising techniques that will get as many people as possible to the show.

To connect with past TAB Student Directors about their experiences, contact Jessica at and she would be happy to put you in touch.