Preparing for Dance Competitions

    For the past couple of years, I've the honor of being a “Dance Mom”.  My daughter Audrey was on a competitive dance team for two years and my daughter Brenna competed in Highland Games and Scottish Dance Competitions.  I'm sharing what I learned hoping that new dance moms and their kiddos have a positive experience, no matter what kind of dance they do.  Here are my tips for preparing for a Dance Competition or really any dance performance, such as a dance recital or dance convention.

    Getting Organized

    The first step in preparing for the competition happens BEFORE the event.  It requires getting organized to figure out what you need, and then packing it all up so you can find it in backstage chaos.

    A List of What to Bring:  This is the first step to getting organized.  Dance teachers or other leaders put together the list of what to bring to the event and then pass it out at the practice before the competition.

    Costume:  Each costume gets labeled with my daughter’s name and all pieces of the costume are placed together.  For smaller items, such as hair accessories, jewelry, or gloves, I put them together in a plastic Ziploc bag with the dance name written on the outside.  I use a hole punch to make a hole in the bag, and then slip it over the hanger of the costume.  I label everything with white fabric tape and a sharpie in case stuff gets mixed up with other girls.

    Tights and Shoes:  We had an extra set of each kind of tights, in case of a run.  Shoes were labeled and placed with costumes.

    Makeup:  For Audrey, her studio required very specific stage makeup, including training of how, where, and what colors to apply.  I practiced applying makeup on her, especially false eyelashes, before the first event.  I made sure we had everything we needed in a makeup case, including the instructions of how to apply.

    Hair Supplies:  As with makeup, I had all hair supplies in a case.  Everything we could possibly need was in there!

    Food:  All that dancing makes a kid hungry, so I tried to bring non-messy snacks for the waiting time.  Also, I brought a water bottle for keeping hydrated, and some cash for lunch at the event.  If the competition was hosted at a school or some other place without food, we stopped for sandwiches at Subway on the way.

    Dance Bag:  Many of the other dance moms purchased these awesome duffle-style bags for all of the dance gear.  The bags had wheels like luggage for easy transport, and when you arrived at the competition, the bag had a built in garment rack for hanging costumes. Not only is this great for competitions, but recitals and other performances as well.

    Miscellaneous items:  A sewing kit for mending emergencies, camera for pictures of the performers, and activities to keep girls busy between dances are all things I included in my bag.  Also, emergency safety pins are a must for costume malfunctions!

    Day Before the Event

    Finish your organization. Whatever last minute tasks need to be done, I tried to do the night before.  Packing the costumes, shopping for the snacks, filling the gas tank, all of these tasks I completed the day before so that I didn’t stress the day of the event.

    Eat well and stay hydrated.  Just like any other sport, dancing is an athletic endeavor that requires good fuel for the body.  A healthy meal and lots of water the day before keep the dancer in top shape.

    Early to bed.  Sleep helps the dancer be rested for the long day ahead.  We tried not to plan any evening events the night before a dance competition or convention.

    Day of Event

    Arrive early.  Our dance studio required the dancers to arrive a full two hours before their scheduled performance time.  I think this was a wise idea because of unforeseen events.  For example, bad traffic, a change in dance line-up and other schedule changes can happen and you don’t want your dancer to miss her opportunity to perform!

    Stay Calm. This is a hard one for me.  I get so keyed up getting there, getting my daughter ready, and all the commotion and excitement of the other dancers.  I’m excited for my daughter, and nervous for her performance.  Sometimes as the mom you just have to take a deep breath and let go!

    Enjoy the Dance.  Once on stage, all of the work and commitment of your child pays off.  It’s great to see the confidence that dance gives.  Plus it is just beautiful artistry!  The performance goes by so quickly, but seeing your child onstage makes it all worthwhile.

    While not all dancers compete, most will perform at some point in their dance career.  Even though I wrote this article from the perspective of a dance competition, these tips also work for dance recitals and other performances.  The important thing is to have fun and embrace the joy of dancing!

    Cheers! Jessica

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