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Creating a Dance Competition Survival Kit

Creating a Dance Competition Survival Kit

Have you ever been at a dance competition and realized you don’t have any hairspray? Or maybe it was bandages. Or bobby pins! Every studio owner, dance teacher, or dancer has that moment of panic when everyone is backstage and you’ve forgot that important item. Hopefully, someone can lend a hand, but you’ll want to be prepared next time! Here are some tips for putting together a dance competition survival kit with all the essentials so you can avoid those “uh-oh” moments.

Editor’s Note: Readers have offered some great suggestions on additional items to add to your competition survival kit. This article has been edited to add their ideas. Thanks to readers Pam B., Elayne S., Katie B., Senaida T., and Jennifer P.!

The Storage

First thing’s first. In your dance competition survival kit, we’ve found it’s easiest to bring along a large plastic container, preferably on wheels and with a number of compartments for easy storage. Along those lines, it’ll come in handy to have different size resealable bags when you’re packing so you can group similar items together and label everything clearly. For labeling? A Sharpie (or two, or ten, because Sharpies somehow always disappear).

Extra, Extra

If there’s something that you know you’ll need, you better have some extra on hand. The Rockettes website suggested you bring extra:

  • Tights
  • Bra straps
  • Ribbons
  • Ties
  • Hair brushes
  • Styling spray
  • Pins
  • Props
  • Extra shoelaces
  • Two-sided tape
  • Shoelace “stick” to keep them tied
  • A multi-tool for tightening taps
  • Flashlight
  • Lighter (for burning costume frays)
  • Hair nets
  • Sewing kit with scissors
  • Glue gun


You’ll also want to have extra makeup for last minute touch ups. It’s a good idea to bring:

  • Concealer
  • Foundation
  • Blush
  • Lipstick
  • Powder
  • Eyelash glue
  • Makeup remover
  • Baby wipes
  • Mirror
  • Application tools
  • Any other cosmetics your dancers use

First Aid/Personal Care

The next essential component of a dance competition survival kit is the first aid portion. A standard care kit is a good place to start, as it will contain bandages, ointment and wraps. You may want to throw in the following:

  • Blister bandages
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Pain reliever
  • Allergy medication
  • Q-tips
  • Vaseline
  • Afrin (for bloody noses)
  • Pepto-Bismol/Tums
  • Feminine hygiene items
  • Antibiotic Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Bottles of Water
  • Baby powder


Bring healthy snacks that will give you energy and sustain during the sometimes long waits between performances. Check out some of our healthy snack ideas in our article 5 High Energy Snacks to Help You Power Through Your Dance Competitions.


Only you know what unexpected needs crop up at your competitions, but here are a few miscellaneous items that may come in handy:

  • A notepad and pen (to jot down those “wow” moments, or emergency information)
  • Extra CDs with your music
  • Copies of the competition schedule
  • Paper towels
  • Velcro strips
  • Static cling spray
  • A power strip (charging station, anyone?)

And finally, a good attitude! Once you have your survival kit put together, you’ll be set for future competitions too. Just leave it in a closet for storage and be sure to replace any items you use. Plus, it can come in handy as a “dance recital survival kit” as well.



Find Royalty Free Dance Music Your Students Will Love

Royalty Free Dance Music

If you’re on a tight budget and can’t spare the expense for music licensing, you’ll probably turn to royalty free dance music or public domain dance music for your performances and classes. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get the latest Katy Perry hit, but you can find some fun tunes that your dancers will enjoy – if you know where to look!

Become the Queen of Royalty-Free Music

The key to finding royalty free dance music of high quality is to find the right artist. There are so many aspiring musicians out there that write their own songs, and these are the people you want to work with. For example, composer Kevin MacLeod started a website called Incompetech, where he makes his songs available for people to use. He has a variety of different genres, including pop, rock, jazz and classical. You can also sort through his selection by “feel” – bouncy, calming, mystical and more. There are lots of similar sites around the Internet, so do a little digging. You can also put some feelers out into your community. If there are any aspiring stars with demos out there, they might be willing to partner with you to gain some exposure. As long as their songs are original, they have full say on who can use them.

Another option is to search on Amazon.com, iTunes or Spotify. These music aggregates will often have playlists of royalty-free pieces. You can narrow down your options by song length, genre or cost. If you use one of these sites, chances are you’ll pay for the song. But it will only be a couple dollars, and then you can use the music as much as you’d like.

Or the Princess of Public Domain

Your other option is to search for music that is in the “public domain,” meaning that its copyright has expired. The Public Domain Information Project explained that many song or musical work published before 1922 are considered public domain. However, sound recordings are not. That means you’ll have to find a new recording of an old song. The Public Domain Information Project is a great resource to get you started, as it provides the guidelines of public domain music and an extensive list of songs. You may think that your students will stick their tongues out at such “old” music, but there are a lot of instrumental pieces you can use. Plus this is a great option if you decide to do a throwback performance!


Dance Studio Decorating Ideas on a Budget

Dance Studio Decorating Ideas

If you just opened a studio or are in the process of revamping an old one, you’re likely working with a tight budget. It can be an overwhelming process to cover the blank walls in your hallways, waiting rooms and bathrooms if you’re stuck thinking inside the box. With a little imagination, you can use these dance studio decorating ideas to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere with beautiful, inexpensive items.

Wall decals

When you think of wall decorations, pictures, posters and canvasses probably come to mind. However, wall decals have been gaining popularity because they’re fun, easy and inexpensive. You can get unique decals from Amazon.com for under $10. There are lots of different quotes, silhouettes and images to choose from. It’s a great way to quickly fill up your wall space with dancers, butterflies, flowers or whatever else suits your aesthetic. This is great for new studios, as you can simply peel the decals off if you find a great picture to hang later.

Old dance costumes

When you’re redoing an established studio or just moving locations, another inexpensive way to decorate is with costumes from past performances. If you’ve been to a busy sports restaurant, you’ve probably seen shadowboxes with jerseys in them. You can use the same idea to display some of your favorite costumes. It makes a great centerpiece for a collage of competition photographs and awards. You can also include ballet shoes, hair accessories or other items you’ve collected. If you don’t have any old costumes on hand, contact your alumni. Sentimental parents are sure to have kept a few items and might be willing to give them a new home.

Donated furniture

You don’t need to buy new furniture to decorate your office and waiting room. In fact, that’s probably the most expensive way to go. When looking for dance studio decorating ideas, ask your friends and family if they have any furniture they’re looking to get rid of. You’ll be amazed at how many handouts you get, especially if you offer to do the transport yourself. There will probably be some pieces that are too old or worn for use, but you’ll definitely find some gems that just need a little love.

Better Homes and Gardens explained that furniture with good bones can easily be turned into new treasures. If you’re willing to put in a little bit of handiwork, you can create a beautiful array of custom furniture for your studio. Sand down each chair, bench, desk or table, then prime, paint and seal them. You can add accents with scrapbook paper and new drawer pulls. If you take the time to redo furniture handouts, you can customize them to perfectly fit your tastes, and you’ll only be paying for paint!

Student artwork

Another option is to let your students help decorate. Dance Advantage suggested dedicating one class session to creating artwork with your students. Make it a learning experience by incorporating different types of music into artwork. Ask the students to draw the emotions that a song makes them feel or have them “dance” to the beat with crayons. Learning to connect art with dance will add a unique perspective to their education! After the class, you can ask if anyone would like to have their artwork displayed in the studio. Having hand-draw artwork will give the facility a sense of personality and make your students feel at home.


Dance Recital Photos: How to Choose a Photographer

Dance Recital Photos

At the end of the dance year, dance recital season is an important opportunity to honor your dancers’ hard work, capture memories for their parents, and showcase your studio. Dance recital photos, whether staged beforehand or done as live-event photos, are an excellent way to commemorate the occasion and capture the spirit of your studio. However, just like choosing a photographer for your wedding, picking the perfect cameraman for your pictures is tricky. To get the best dance recital photos possible, you need to put the necessary time and research into your selection. When you begin the search for a photographer, use these three considerations to guide your process.


Before you even start looking for potential candidates, you should establish how much you’re able to spend. You don’t want to fall in love with a photographer who’s way above your price range. Having an established budget will also help you negotiate if need be. A professional photographer may be willing to drop event prices to fit your needs if they know you’ll be a recurring client.

The other part of this consideration is how much parents are willing to spend to purchase prints. You can find this out by simply asking around or sending out a questionnaire. If this is your first recital, try to get as much information as possible. Find out if parents want photos of different outfits, the class or of the action. The more detail you can provide to your candidates, the better.


The Professional Photographers of America recommended that you interview several photographers before making your choice. Ask questions about their experience taking dance recital photos, their style and other studios they’ve worked with. Ask candidates to bring samples of their work and supply them with some images you like. You want to make sure that the photographer you choose can deliver up to your expectations. It’s also a good idea to check references. A photographer may have shot recitals before, but that doesn’t mean he or she is good with children. Calling a past client can give you a better idea of how your hire will interact with your students and instructors.


Finally you’ll want to discuss what equipment the photographer has and what, if anything, you need to provide. For staged photographs, you’ll need a backdrop, lighting and props. Ask to see the backdrops each photographer has. If you want photographs of the live dance recital event, make sure they have the proper lenses and discuss if they will need special arrangements, like a reserved seat. You’ll also want to ensure that they have backup equipment and someone who can stand in if they fall ill on the recital date.


Choosing Fun, Age-Appropriate Music for Dance Recitals

Tips for Selecting Age-Appropriate Music

As the owner of a dance studio, it’s your job to make sure recitals are an enjoyable experience for both your dancers and their parents. When you’re preparing for that end-of-year showcase, you’ll likely be in charge of picking the music to which classes will perform. While the students will probably want to dance to the biggest radio hits, you’ll need to make sure to choose age-appropriate music. Use these tips to pick the perfect beats for your big show and wow the audience, while still giving your dancers what they want.

Consider Your Audience

It’s important to keep your students happy, but if their parents are in the audience, you should be catering music choices to them too. No matter what age your students are, Dance Fullout recommends that you steer clear of overly sexy or vulgar music. Be sure to listen to the full song, paying close attention to the words, before you decide to use it.

If there will be other audience members, consider their tastes as well. If your dancers are inviting their grandparents, Dance Fullout suggested picking an older song for one routine. If your dancers are going to perform for their peers, it might be better to choose a popular radio piece. Again, make sure to listen through the song and purchase edited versions of any songs popular on the radio so you’re not surprised by tunes that aren’t age-appropriate music on the night of the performance!

Use Musical Favorites

If the songs your students suggest are wrought with parental advisory warnings, it might be beneficial to start looking for age-appropriate music in other places. Dance Teacher recommended browsing through the soundtracks from fun musicals. If you choose to base a routine off a musical, you can watch the show as a class to get everyone excited. Dance Teacher suggested that songs from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “My Fair Lady” or “The Lion King” would make great age-appropriate routines for young dancers.

Go Instrumental

Instrumental tracks are an easy way to eliminate controversial lyrics. Dance-Teacher recommended browsing international compilation CDs to mix up your recital. These tracks provide a great beat and allow all focus to be on your dancers. If the music inspires you, you can create a unique routine that showcases your dancers’ talents.

Hire a Professional Editor

If you choose to edit a song, make sure that all transitions are smooth. Dance Fullout explained that professional editors can ensure that sections are cut out perfectly, the track is the right length and that there are no skips or malfunctions. This is especially important if you choose to create a mashup of songs. The audience will be distracted if your music is of a low quality. It’s a worthwhile investment to tailor your music perfectly.


Hottest Dance Costume Trends for 2015

2015 Dance Costume Trends

If your studio has a big recital coming up at the end of the year, you’ve probably started to look for costumes. To keep things fresh, you might want to tap into popular trends that your dancers are sure to love. Use these dance costume trends for 2015 to put together your best recital yet and knock the socks off the parents.

Fiery color schemes

This year, the dance costume trends are hot, hot, hot! According to Curtain Call Costumes, color schemes of red, orange and black are extremely popular right now. Your little firecrackers will look great in red leotards and black tutus. They can also wear fun net or feather headpieces to embody the fireball theme. Fiery costumes are the perfect addition to a powerful routine, whether it’s ballet, contemporary, tap or hip-hop.

Woodland fairies

Another fun theme is the woodland fairy look. You’ll need an earthtone color scheme – browns, greens and off-whites work best. Curtain Call costumes suggests dressing up your look with fun flower accessories and gentle flowing hairstyles. If you’ve done this theme before, take it in a different direction and go for more of a bohemian look with fringe and flower headbands. The flowing skirts and delicate accessories will look marvelous as your performers twirl across the stage.

60s mod patterns

Dancers all over the country are paying homage to a fun and revolutionary time in history – the 1960s. The editor’s picks at Weissman Costumes highlight the bold patterns and fun color pops of the time. You’re sure to see lots of mod black and white in dance costumes in the coming months. Whether it’s pop art or optical illusions, these outfits are sure to make a bold statement in a tap or jazz recital.

Superheroes and villains

No matter how old kids get, they still love dressing up as superheroes. Curtain Call Costumes featured a host of sleek villain and hero costumes that are sure to thrill your audience and dancers. The mischievous villains dress from head to toe in black, while the super-dancers fight crime in sequined red, blue and gold outfits. These theatrical ensembles perfectly complement a strong gymnastic performance and will keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Sparkles galore

It’s debatable whether glamor really ever goes out of style. Your young dancers are sure to want a glittery finale, so find them some unique sequined accessories. Sparkles aren’t just for leotards – there are some great shoes, gloves and headbands that can add a subtle pizzazz to any performance. Mixing up your use of sparkles will keep your dancers enthused and the costumes unique.