If your studio competes, you have likely encountered the dilemma of determining what competitions/conventions your studio will attend in any given season. With new competitions and conventions arriving on the scene fairly regularly, there are many choices. As a Studio Owner or Competition Team Director, it is important you choose a well-rounded, seasonal experience that caters to the strengths and weaknesses of your dancers. And, it is important that you plan your entire season in advance and choose your dance competition dates carefully.
So, how do you determine what will work best for your team? As you consider options, you want to consider the following factors:
What did you enjoy doing as a dancer/performer?
What works best for the skill/ability levels of your competitive team?
Which events/activities has your studio enjoyed?
Parent feedback, concerns, complaints
Professionalism of the event
Location of the event and cost
Each factor is important and should be considered in determining the best options for you and your team. After all, you and your dancers’ parents are investing a lot of time, money, and energy into these events. The experience should be a win-win for everyone.
Must-Have Considerations When Selecting a Prospective Event
Educational Opportunity: What will your students learn at the event? How will it further progress their dance education?
Logistical Consideration: Is the event held at a nice facility? Will selecting this event be a good reflection on your brand?
Professionalism: Is the event professional? How long as the event been establishment? Will you receive professional critiques, instruction, or some type of feedback?
Piece of the Puzzle: How does this event fit into the yearlong plan of your training program? Is it well balanced with other options?
Teacher Incentive: What does the event offer to benefit the studio? Classes, tuition discounts, networking etc. are all factors to consider. After all, you want the experience to be great for your students, but you also want it to be great for yourself and your business. (As a side note, some competitions offer rebates, which are a nice incentive, but events should not be chosen based solely on rebate opportunity.)
Red Flags to Notice
Lack of Constructive Criticism
Whether it is through audio feedback at a competition or via instruction at a convention, the event should, in some way, inspire your students. If your students leave without inspiration, awareness, or reflection, the event has not accomplished its mission.
(For example, if a student receives a lower score at a competition but only receives the feedback “good job,” then the event has not helped your student.)
Is the facility run-down? Are your students dancing in areas that are less than ideal? If an event looks like it has cut corners in providing the experience, it probably has, which means you probably do not want to return.
Lack of Professionalism
At events, take note of everything that is happening around you. Are the staff members acting professional with all attendees, or does it feel as though favoritism is being shown?
Are the critiques appropriate?
Do the events run as though they are scripted, or does it feel like the event is “flying by the seat of its pants?”
Parents notice professionalism, and you should, too. If is an event is unprofessional, it may be time to explore other options.
Once you have decided to make your event selections, do a quick cost-benefit analysis and make sure your students will be receiving a return for their investment. Ask yourself if you would be willing to spend the same amount of money for the same experiences.
Avoid choosing less than stellar events for the wrong reasons. Many Studio Owners pick second-rate competitions to attend because they perceive that they can “win” more, or their students will do better because a powerhouse studio may not be present.
This notion is ludicrous! Challenge your students and expose them to the best.
At the end of the day, the events and dance competition dates you select for your students are a direct reflection on you and your business. If parents and students leave an event pleased, they will applaud your selection. However, if students and/or parents have a negative experience, they will address those concerns with you because you serve as the liaison to the event.
Take the time to plan, scope out, and determine events that your clients will appreciate and enjoy. Your students and parents will respect your careful selection and will see that you are picking events based on the students’ best interests. Who can argue with that?
Also remember: as dance competition dates get closer, make sure your dance parents are fully prepared for the event. Check out our Dance Parent Competition Survival Guide so that everyone arrives at the event ready for action!
A lot of dance studios have finished up their competition season; plenty have competitions coming up soon. For those of you who are finished with competition season: did you win? For those of you headed to competition, are you hoping to win?
Mama wants a trophy. No doubt. And every studio can benefit from having a reputation for strong results at competition and a fun experience for the team.
But like, did you WIN? Are you happy with the results of the competition? Here’s the TutuTix take on how to win a dance competition.
How to Win a Dance Competition
The dancers are the priority
All dance studio owners, competition teachers, and dance parents want the best for their dancers. At competition, that means that dancers (hopefully) walk into the competition with confidence, with beautiful costumes, with composure, and with enthusiasm to leave it all on the dance floor and represent their team well.
Walking out of competition, hopefully those same dancers have worked through the INEVITABLE issues that surprise you at competition, they’ve become more mature through great wins or tough losses, and they’ve kept a strong sense of self knowing that they’re doing what they love.
If you as a competition team have accomplished that, you’ve won, right?
We need to teach dancers that preparation before a big event is important. Not just so that their performance at competition is top-notch, but so they recognize that great results require you to put in the work beforehand.
That work doesn’t necessarily mean just practice time. Especially for older dancers, involving them in putting together a dance competition survival kit and other competition materials will help them to be more responsible and invested in their own preparation.
The Performance Experience
It’s important for dancers to see others compete, and to be able to recognize other great talent on the stage regardless of who ends up with what trophies. That’s not to say that teams should be watching every other dance, especially before they perform- the priority should be focusing and preparing for your own dance.
And part of that focus needs to be an understanding that you are going out onto the stage to be judged for your art. Though the context might be competition, the dance team on stage is leaving it all on the dance floor, expressing themselves in a medium that is meaningful and powerful for them.
So yes, you want great scores and great feedback from judges, but remember that judging at a competition is done by humans, and there will always be some subjective room for error.
Regardless of the judges’ scores, the goal for dancers needs to be taking scores with a grain of salt, comparing the scores with how they felt on stage, and remembering these two very important questions:
“Did you have fun? Was your performance a work of art?”
It’s not just about going through the motions and hoping for a good score- life doesn’t work that way, and we should hope that the lessons dancers learn on stage translate to the rest of their lives in a meaningful way.
After the Competition
Once you’re back home from competition, back in the studio and gearing up for spring recitals, how is your team feeling? Dancers might feel a lot of different ways: tired, determined, excited. It just depends on how their competition experience went.
For those teams who got great scores, great feedback, and are coming back buzzing with excitement: that’s amazing! Ride that wave of enthusiasm all the way through recital season.
For those teams who didn’t get the results they were expecting, or had some tougher-than-usual trouble at competition, never fear: there are plenty more opportunities to dance and improve on your technique for next time.
Regardless of your competition experience, make sure your dancers know that their efforts made a difference to you, and that you loved watching them dance! It means a lot to a dancer to know that their hard work paid off, and will help them work that much harder to put on their best recital performance yet.
Need to know how to get ready for a dance competition? Check out these resources we’ve put together so that you and your stars are ready to hit the big stage!
Pre-Preparation: 2-3 Months Out
We say “pre-preparation” because competition season should be on your calendar WAY before the week of the big day(s). Your dance studio staff will be doing research, confirming details with the competition staff, and relaying information to you as they get it.
So, be sure to read any and all news updates as they get to you! That way you can be:
Also, make sure to reinforce good eating habits with your dancer(s). Dancers are athletes, so they should be eating well anyway, but it’s especially important to have them strong and healthy going into an important event where they represent their studio.
It’s ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry, and by digging in and figuring out the small details early, you’ll leave yourself some wiggle room for those last-minute emergencies.
One of the easiest ways to make sure you have everything you need for an upcoming competition is to:
Do your research (ask your dance teachers for suggestions, and check the internet for recommendations from other dance parents or guides)
Make your giant list of things, and maybe coordinate with other dance parents to buy items in bulk and split some costs of supplies
Find a way to put all your supplies into one easy, organized container
Our Dance Competition Survival Kit guide lays out some of the best ideas we’ve found for building your all-in-one dance competition station, and has been updated with suggestions from real dance teachers and parents who have been to competitions before and know their stuff.
More or less, the supplies you’ll need break down into:
Personal comfort items (coffee thermos, light jacket, phone charger, water)
The Day Of
On the day of competition, you and the rest of the studio’s dancers and parents will all be running around, trying to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. There’s so much going on at a competition!
Before you get caught up in the commotion of the day, make sure that you as a parent have taken a step back and recognized that the day isn’t about you: it’s about your dancer!! And dancers, especially those who might be attending some of their first few competitions, are the ones who will suffer the most if they get stressed out and upset.
Plus, there’s a good chance that someone who hasn’t practiced may need a helping hand, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing so you can help out someone on your dance team.
Follow the Teacher/Leader
The teachers are the pros. They’ve done the competition thing many times, both as teachers and (very likely) as performers! Look to them and pay attention to their directions.
Like we mentioned earlier, the day of competition will be full of noise, distractions, and probably some complaining here and there. Have your schedule, have some kind of communication plan in place (some studios use a messaging app or group text), and follow your teachers’ leads.
Make A Checklist – For Things and To-Do’s
Your Daily Dance has a great printable checklist that fits onto a regular sheet of computer paper, and can definitely cover most if not all of your bases (depending on your particular dancer’s needs and the competition you’re going to).
Finally, take a deep breath. Taking your dancer to competition is a lot of work! But few things are as rewarding as seeing your dancer have the time of their life on stage and come home with a new sense of achievement.
For years, I have watched an uncountable amount of dances performed at dance competitions. There have been amazing dances, passionate performances, and, unfortunately, routines that felt uncomfortable to watch because of inappropriate content, music selection, costuming, and/or choreography. When an inappropriate routine performs, it shakes the room, leaving parents, studio owners, instructors, and the competitive dance infrastructure unsettled.
While most competitions have statements of appropriateness, it is rare for a routine to receive a disqualification. The lack of reinforcement is frustrating, but the bigger issue is: how do these dances make it to the competitive dance stage? In order for the routine to make it to this phase, the routine has to pass through an instructor/choreographer,the studio owner, and the performers’ parents. At some point, prior to competition, accountability and integrity should prevail.
For this season, let’s commit to raising the standards of the competitive dance industry. Let’s take ownership of the routines we place on stage and recognize that every performance represents the values, culture, and brand of our studios, and as a by-product, each and every one of our studio families.
In preparing for competition, consider the following:
1. Lyrics: Listen to the Lyrics and know what they mean. Eliminate curse words, but also be aware of inappropriate and overly mature or suggestive content. If a song is from a show or a musical, know the context.
2.Themes: When you are conceiving a piece, it is important that themes are appropriate for your dancers’ ages and maturity levels. Could an audience member misinterpret your piece or perceive it as inappropriate? Is the piece too serious or too dark? How can your students relate to the story that is being told?
3. Costuming: Does your costuming match the theme of the routine? Will it be perceived as classy or trashy? We must take ownership and responsibility of how we costume our students. Sexy is not how we should describe our costuming choices. Dress your dancers appropriately.
4.Choreography: The choreography should fit the theme of the routine. Movement should be age appropriate and representative of the lyrics, costuming, and themes.
5. Your Dancers’ Ages: Make sure ALL of your choices are appropriate for your dancers’ ages. Having young dancers perform a mature song/routine may result in inappropriate costuming, choreography, and thematic choices.
Share your standards with your instructors and guest choreographers. Build parental trust that you will always have your dancers’ best interests at heart. Set your standards high and do not waiver or succumb to trends or peer pressure. Via competitive dance, we have an opportunity to positively influence and motivate our dancers, but we need to safeguard our choices and commit to presenting classy material that is representative of the dancers’ age and maturity. That is something that everyone can appreciate, respect, and look forward to seeing on stage.
With competition season, you’re probably in a whirlwind of costumes, choreography and cosmetics. Hopefully you’ve coordinated all these different aspects of your team’s performances to really impress the judges, but don’t overlook one of the most crucial aspects: the dance competition music.
Sure, you could go with a classic like “All that Jazz” or “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but you might see some peoples’ eyes glaze over when they’ve already heard it three times that day. There are certainly a number of overused songs that you’ll hear at competitions – here’s a handy list from the Dance Exec – so spruce up your routines this year with unique, infectious music that will have the crowds on their feet.
1. Consider Age Appropriateness
If you’ve been competing for a number of years, you’ve likely seen a great dance team get cringes from the audience because their music crossed a certain line. While “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke is certainly catchy and has a fun beat, the lyrics aren’t something that parents want to see young dancers connecting with.
Always take the age of your performers into account when choosing music for their performances. It’s best to steer clear of songs with overly suggestive or mature themes – there are plenty of clean options to choose from!
2. Stay Away From Top-40 Songs
Your students may be clamoring to perform to “Uptown Funk,” but you can bet that hundreds of other studios have the same idea. Top-40 songs are a go-to for many choreographers, so stand out from the pack by choosing tunes that will make your performances unique.
Whether you choose an “oldie” or a track that hasn’t made it to the radio yet, you’ll be putting your team in position to give a one-of-a-kind performance.
3. Make Sure Everyone Loves It
You may love a certain ’60s rock ballad, but if your dancers aren’t keen on the music, their performance may fall a little flat. Work to find music that both you and your performers enjoy. After all, you’ll probably be hearing it 500 times or so before the competition, so it’s better if everyone likes the tune.
4. Look for Must-Haves
Once you’ve whittled down your choices to a handful of appropriate, under-utilized options, you can rule songs out by looking for certain must-have characteristics. Your song should be easy to cut down to the right length, and it also needs to have a strong beat and proper tempo.
You’ll also want to consider how the music fits into the genre your kids are performing in. When you take these aspects into account, you’ll be able to pick the perfect song!
Need some help finding those perfect songs? SO many studio owners and teachers recommend song mixes by Squirrel Trench Audio. Check out their recommendations and see what works for your dancers!
The dance world is full of debates, and one of the fiercest surrounds the question: is competitive dance a sport? There’s few questions like this one that will get such a spirited discussion going. Read on to dive into the arguments for and against this divisive question.
Is Competitive Dance a Sport? Yes, Competitive Dance Is a Sport
Proponents of considering competitive dance a sport believe that dance’s athleticism and its harsh physical demands of the body put it on equal ground with recognized sports like football, soccer and field hockey. A first point pro-sporters might mention is that dance is similar to other disciplines that share dance’s artistic spirit yet are still considered sports, such as gymnastics and ice skating. Others take this point to the next level by arguing that competitive dance, by its very nature, could be classified as an Olympic sport.
Alonni Reid, a dancer herself, lays out this very argument in an article for the Buffalo News. She wrote that according to the International Olympic Committee, to be considered as an official Olympic sport, the activity needs to fit the following criteria:
Demonstrate clear emphasis on youth and development
Have a judging system that ensures objectivity, fairness and transparency
Be practiced by both men and women
Have long-term development and viability
Competitive dance meets all these requirements, and Reid argued that it should therefore be considered a sport by the public.
The rise in popularity of competitive dance has also exposed millions more Americans to the hard work, sacrifice and physical skill that it takes to be a dancer. Dancers need stamina, flexibility and endurance and must to be in peak physical shape to excel, just like a football player or a long-distance runner. These intense demands on the human body – and the sacrifices dancers make to train and improve – are another major argument why competitive dance should be considered a sport.
In an article on the increasing popularity of competitive dance, the New York Times interviewed Dennis Spitzer, a physical therapist whose daughter had begun dancing competitively.
“I played sports all my life, and I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as they do,” Sptizer said. “They are going out there to win. If they don’t win, they feel as badly as we do when we lose. It’s not dance. It’s a sport.”
Is Competitive Dance a Sport? No, Competitive Dance Is Not a Sport
“It’s not dance. It’s a sport,” might be an incendiary statement to those firmly in the camp that dance is indeed not a sport. The argument against considering competitive dance a sport largely boils down to the firm conviction that dance is an art form above all else. And according to this group, the rise of competitive dance has, in fact, taken dance even further away from its true essence.
Dance’s purpose is to enchant the audience, express emotion and tell an affecting story, argued Brittanly Kottler in an article for the Huffington Post. It’s not the impressive physical skills and “tricks” that are the focal point of ballet, rather, it’s the artistry and creative expression.
“The choreographed routines [showcased on competitive dance TV shows] strive for the “wow!” factor while simultaneously removing basic ballet technique and artistic freedom that has been taught to dancers around the world for centuries,” Kottler wrote. “The true “wow!” factor of ballet comes from the entire performance as a whole.”
Those who believe dance is a sport frequently cite dancers’ fierce competitiveness as evidence, however, Kottler refuted this idea as well, writing that “ballerinas are competitive with each other in the same way artists, musicians and actors are.”
Where proponents of dance as a sport state that gymnastics and ice skating are “artistic disciplines” that are classified as sports, others refute this by pointing to the fact that competitive dance has a more subjective scoring system compared to these two sports. Unlike in gymnastics and ice skating, there are no specific moves that dancers are required to include in their routines.
“Although dancers must be as strong as athletes, they should never substitute tricks for art,” responded Joan Robinson Borchers to a poll by Dance Spirit Magazine on whether dance should be in the Olympics. “We see far too much of that at various competitions how many fouettés can you pull off, instead of what story you can tell us through your dance. Skating and gymnastics can be beautiful to watch, but are hamstrung by having to do all those tricks. A dancer can and should be above all, an artist.”
And the Verdict Is …
There’s no denying competitive dancers are athletes, and there’s a long list of benefits of being a competitive dancer, such as expressing yourself through movement, keeping your body in top physical shape and having the opportunity to become one of the best in your discipline. There’s no easy answer, since many of the characteristics of competitive dance blur the line between art and sport. It’s possible, then, that the debate may just have to rage on. What do you think – is competitive dance a sport? Let us know in the comments.
The dressing room before a dance competition is a crazy scene – you and your fellow dancers are abuzz with excitement and your nerves are running high. There’s so much to think about – will you wow the judges and hit every measure of your choreography? With all this excitement going on, the last thing you want is to look in your makeup bag and discover that you left your most important competition makeup at home.
A confident dance performance begins with a confident face, and that starts with the right look. Dance makeup helps the judges and audience tune into the emotional aspects of your performance, whether they’re sitting in the front row or at the back of the theater – and a panicked look because you’re the only one that forgot their lipstick is not the emotion you’re trying to convey.
Instead, prevent cosmetic catastrophes and makeup meltdowns with this handy checklist. The night before your competition, pack all these items in your bag so they’re ready to go the next morning. It doesn’t hurt to run through the competition makeup checklist one last time before running out the door, either.
Dance Competition Makeup Checklist
A smooth, bright complexion starts with hydrated skin, so tote along a hydrating face lotion. Opt for a formula that’s non-greasy and fast-drying, since this means it’ll absorb quickly so you can get onto the next step in your makeup routine.
2. Face Primer
Moisturizer hydrates your face, but primer preps it for foundation, helping your makeup to last through multiple routines and a whole lot of sweat. If you don’t want to feel like your makeup is slowly sliding down your face as you dance, then you definitely need a primer.
3. Eye Primer
You don’t only need primer to help your foundation stay on – it also works wonders on your eyelids to help shadows and liners stay put. Choose a formula specially made for eyes, since the area is extra sensitive.
Foundation smooths any blemishes, dark marks or shadows on your skin and brightens your complexion so you can put your best face forward. As the Energetiks Blog noted, foundation creates an even and clear base under harsh stage lights. When packing foundation in your bag, double-check the bottle to make sure you have enough left for your competition – bring extra if you think you’ll run out!
Foundation creates a great base, but concealer is necessary to cover up any particularly pushy blemishes and dark circles under eyes. If you have red spots, you can use a green-colored concealer to counteract them.
5. Foam or Sponge Makeup Blenders
You can have the perfect foundation, but you need a way to apply it. The debate is out about whether it’s better to apply foundation with a brush, sponges or foam blenders – according to Daily Makeover, it’s a matter of personal preference and there are pros to each method. So experiment with what works for you! Just make sure you bring enough blenders along.
6. Contouring product
A powder or cream in a shade slightly darker than your skin color can help define your cheekbones, neck and shoulders and add extra dimension to your face. According to Energetiks, contouring is vital because it prevents your face from looking flat under the lights.
After defining your face with contouring powder or cream, you need to top it all off with blush. Choose a pink shade slightly brighter than what you would normally rock in your day to day life. Cream or powder blushes are both good picks.
To define your eyes, you’ll need several eyeshadows in a variety of shades. Rhiannon at A Dancer’s Days applies white eyeshadow to her lids first, since this makes the eye stand out. Then, you can top the white with darker browns, grays or purples in the creases and sweep it out toward the brow bone for definition. Since doing your eye makeup involves multiple shades of shadow, it’s worth it to invest in a large shadow palette.
9. Liquid or Gel Eyeliner in Black and White
Liquid or gel eyeliners last longer than their pencil counterparts. White eyeliner can be applied to the waterline to make eyes look bigger, will black eyeliner pressed into the upper and lower lashlines make your eyes and lashes stand out even more and set off your shadow.
10. False Eyelashes
False eyelashes are a must-have for the stage, making your peepers pop. Buy a pack containing extra lashes so you’re covered.
If you’re wearing fake lashes, you don’t really need mascara, but it can be useful to pack a tube just in case your fake lashes decide to be fussy and won’t stick.
12. Brow powder/pencil
Strong brows are an essential part of your stage look, since they set off the rest of your makeup and define your expressions to the audience. A powder or pencil product will help you fill in any sparseness in your natural brows.
Pack a long-wear lipstick product that will last throughout your competition without drying out your lips.
14. Lip Liner
Lipstick isn’t enough – a lip line in a matching shade will define your lips and act as a barrier that will prevent the lipstick from migrating from your lips – and showing up on your teeth when you smile for after-competition photos!
15. Finishing powder or setting spray
A finishing powder or setting spray is the cherry on top of your look that will help your makeup stay put, no matter how much you break a sweat.
16. Handy Extras
It’s smart to pack some useful extras in your makeup bag, too. Bring Q-tips, makeup remover, cotton pads and extra makeup brushes, so you’re prepared for anything.
With competition season upon us, there’s a lot to think about – have your dancers perfected their routines? Do they have their costumes? Have you recruited some volunteers that can help out backstage? However, don’t forget to think about how your dancers will get to the venue in the first place. Organizing dance travel to a competition can seem like one big headache, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips to get you and your dancers to the competition without the stress.
Check Out the Venue Ahead of Time
Prior to the competition, if possible, travel to the venue to familiarize yourself with the best route to take to get there. Also, take a look at the available parking options. This way, you can have a better idea of the best transportation method your dancers and their families should take to get to the venue, whether that’s carpooling, taking a bus or driving. You’ll also be able to give better instructions on directions and minimize surprises the day of the competition.
If the venue is far enough away that your students and their families will need to stay in hotels, spend some time researching the area online and using Google Maps to identify the best lodging options in the vicinity so you and the parents can plan the necessary accommodation ahead of time.
Organizing a Carpool
Carpooling to the competition is a great way to streamline and simplify transportation. It’s also cost-effective, and is eco-friendly, as Dance Advantage pointed out. Make sure you leave enough time to organize the carpool – a month before the competition should be ample time. You can use a physical sign-up sheet in the studio, or you could use online sheets or create a private Facebook group for arranging the carpool.
VolunteerSpot recommended creating a permission slip for parents to sign that affirms that the parents are alright with you taking the students out of state, if applicable, and that you have their permission to get the kids medical treatment in the event of an emergency. In the month leading up to the competition, hold a meeting with parents – or send out an email – that outlines the details of the carpool trip like when and where the car will leave from, the route you will take, when the car will arrive and other pertinent information. Also, make sure you have all the parents’ contact info prior to heading out.
Dance Travel by Bus
While carpooling in one or a few vehicles can be an efficient and cost-effective way to get to the competition venue, factors like the distance to the event and large amounts of equipment or luggage may make renting a bus a better transportation option. Before booking a bus with a private company, make sure you do your due diligence and research.
Texas Meetings & Events magazine recommended that you book a bus early, since you can usually save money by making reservations far ahead of time. You should also have a meeting with a representative from the transportation company and ask them about the company’s insurance coverage, the experience of the drivers and their emergency protocols.
Make sure you consider the itinerary for the day of the competition – should the dancers be dropped off at a designated area near the hotel to meet up with their families first, or should the bus go directly to the competition? Taking the time to figure out the specifics of the trip will help the transportation go more smoothly.
Flying to the Competition
If the competition is several states away or on an opposite coast, it makes sense to fly to the venue. If you have just a few dancers traveling to the competition, it may make sense for each dancer to buy a ticket individually to the same flight, or for the studio to buy a batch of tickets for the dancers all at once and then be reimbursed later.
However, if you have a large group of dancers traveling, it may be a better idea to book the trip through a travel agent. U.S. News and World Report noted that agents can help large groups get discounts for flying together, so spend time looking at your options. Other considerations include coordinating transportation to the airport, figuring out accommodation and making sure everyone is checked in on time, which is easier to do these days because of mobile apps. If you are using a travel agent, he can help lock down these details.
Also, don’t forget to consider luggage limitations. It can be helpful to give dancers a checklist of what they should bring with them. Pay special consideration to costumes, which should ideally go in carry-on because of the risk that checked luggage could be lost. As Jayci Kalb from The Dance Centre in Alabama told DanceSpirit Magazine:
“I never pack my costume in my checked luggage. I put it in my carry-on, and it’s the first thing I pack.”
On stage during a recital, audiences see the result of months of hard work. They watch in awe as your students dance gracefully and perfectly hit their choreography – hopefully. But what they don’t see is all the choreographed backstage management going on behind the scenes.
As any dance teacher knows, managing your dancers backstage can be rather stressful. With nervous kids – and teachers – costume mishaps and other various issues, keeping kids in line and focused can be a real headache.
Follow these tips for better backstage management at your studio’s next recital.
1. Practice Quick Costume Changes Ahead of Time
With your dancers performing multiple routines for one recital, they’ll need to be pros at quickly changing in and out of their costumes, along with any makeup or hair alterations. In reality, though, this isn’t always the case. To help them become better at changing quickly, have them practice switching costumes at the studio.
“Our students have 90 seconds between classes to change their shoes and be ready for the next class,” said Brandon Rios, artistic director of Old Dominion Performance Arts Studio in Virginia, in an interview with Dance Studio Life. “If they can get in the habit of changing quickly at the studio, they will be able to do it come performance day.”
So grab a stopwatch and time your dancers in the weeks leading up to the recital – the extra effort is worth it to save you and your dancers stress come performance time.
2. Repeat After Me: Stay in Your Designated Area!
Young kids have trouble staying put in general – add pre-performance anxiety to the mix, and you’ve got yourself some antsy dancers. Your students might also want to wander off to the audience area to chat with friends, or sneak down to the vending machine for a snack. Big no-nos. It’s important that your dancers stay put backstage. As Dance Advantage noted, you have a lot to manage and keep track of during the performance, and students wandering off means that they might miss their entrances or interrupt someone else’s, along with being a safety issue. So, pre-performance, drill into your students’ heads: stay in place!
3. Assemble a Super Team
There’s way to much going backstage for only you to be in charge, so you need to assemble a super team. Gather volunteers or other teachers and assign specific roles to them for the most seamless operation.
Carol Zee, artistic director of The Gabriella Foundation, told dance Studio Life that she assigns the following jobs: stage manager, on-deck supervisor, quick-change supervisor, stage left headset, stage right headset and dressing room monitors.
Looking for more tips on creating a great day-of recital experience? Check out these articles from guest blogger Misty Lown:
Dance competitions are a real test of endurance. You often have to drive a ways to the venue, spend time warming up, do multiple performances over several hours. Not to mention that you may have a few competitions packed into just one weekend! To dance at your best, you need to be in tip-top shape physically, and it starts with good nutrition and having some high-energy snacks on hand.
It’s vital that you give your body the energy it needs to dance in peak shape, and this means providing it with fuel throughout the day with healthy snacks designed to keep you on your toes – literally. Balanced snacking before and after your competition helps keep your muscles’ stores of glycogen at their highest levels, which improves your performance, and helps ward off the nasty effects of a low glycemic index, which can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness and blurred vision, according to Central Washington University’s Department of Sports Nutrition.
In an ideal world, chocolate bars would provide all the energy we need with none of the sugar, fat or calories! Until scientists engineer some miracle food like that, it’s important to be strategic when putting together your snacks. Avoid white starches and refined sugars, since these give you a quick boost but then make you crash, noted Harvard Medical School. Instead, opt for snacks that contain complex carbohydrates and a small amount of healthy unsaturated fats or protein. Also, steer clear of “power bars” in stores. While these products claim to have the perfect balance of nutrients to boost your energy, many of the claims are just marketing. An Ohio State University study revealed that power bars aren’t any better at giving you sustained energy than candy bars are.
5 Great Snack Ideas for Energy
Try the ideas below to make sure you don’t slack on the snacks.
1. 1/2 Whole Wheat Pita with 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
This snack idea from the Boston Ballet will help keep you full throughout your competition. Half a whole wheat pita provides you with energy-boosting complex carbohydrates, in addition to 6 grams of fiber, according to Livestrong.com, and pitas won’t make you feel bloated like regular bread might. The peanut butter contains protein and healthy fats, a winning combo that will help you have the energy to perform at your best. For another great-tasting twist on this snack, try swapping the peanut butter for 2 tablespoons of hummus and a hard-boiled egg.
2. 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese with 1/2 Sliced Strawberries and 2 Mini Whole-Wheat Bagels
The cottage cheese contains protein and Vitamin D, which is a source of energy, noted Healthsomeness.com, and will keep you full for a long time. Strawberries add a little sweetness without unhealthy sugars and also give you a dose of antioxidants, while mini whole-wheat bagels provide some complex carbohydrates.
Your Daily Dance recommended that dancers pop a bag of popcorn before they leave the house and tote it with them to the competitions to snack on throughout the day. Popcorn is a fantastic source of whole grains that contains vitamins that help your muscles release and use energy. Mix in a handful of nuts or yogurt-covered raisins with your popcorn for a well-rounded snack.
“Popcorn is a great snack because you get a lot of volume and fiber (which makes you feel full), and it’s a whole grain, so it’s healthier than a snack like pretzels,” said Tara Gidus of the American Dietetic Association in an interview with Fitness magazine.
4. Trail Mix
A bag of trail mix is also great for munching on throughout the day at competitions. Many store-bought trail mixes contain loads of sugar, so it’s a better idea, and more cost-effective to make your own at home. One Green Planet recommended to follow this ratio when putting together your mix: 3 parts nuts to 1 part seeds to 1 part sweet ingredients like dried apricots or raisins. Nuts are a proven energy booster that also contain healthy fats and protein, so choose your favorite nut and get started making your own trail mix.*
5. Sliced Veggies with 1/4 Greek Yogurt Dip
Surprisingly, vegetables contain a high percentage of carbohydrates, according to Livestrong.com, so they’re a great choice for an energy-boosting snack. Pair sliced veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers or zucchini with Greek yogurt for a yummy low-fat dip. The Boston Ballet suggested adding a little chopped parsley or chives and lemon juice to the yogurt to spice up the dip.
The morning before a competition is always rushed, so don’t leave putting your snacks together to the last minute. If you’re scrambling and forget to bring along any snacks, you’re more likely to be tempted to hit up the vending machine or bake sale to ease your appetite later in the day. The night before the competition, package your snacks in plastic containers and baggies to have them ready to go in the morning, along with any ice packs to keep perishable foods cold. Try to avoid eating snacks that easily spill or stain while wearing your costume, but if you must, make sure you wear a sweatshirt or jacket over it just in case. And finally, remember that snacks don’t replace meals, so be sure to eat balanced meals throughout the day.
*Editor’s note: Be sensitive to the possibility of peanut or tree nut allergies among other dancers. Be sure to consider those with nut allergies when deciding what to bring, and remember that some severe allergies can be triggered by contact with very small amounts of the allergen.
You start each class with a group warm up exercise, which helps prepare the muscles and minds of your students for the practice ahead. Your students expect that each class will begin the same way, and they try to perform the movements in unison with each other. When it comes to competitions, though, this go-to warm up is a little less reliable. Your dancers might travel separately to the competition venue, or maybe there’s limited space, and it ends up that each of your dancers’ stretches on their own, off in a corner or hallway, or in pairs.
While independent stretching before competitions is unproblematic for advanced, experienced dancers, a group warm up exercise before competitions can be incredibly beneficial. Just make sure that you take up as little space as possible and choose a warm-up location that’s away from high-traffic areas.
Boost Performance and Reduce Injury
The main goal of warming up is to raise the body’s temperature by a few degrees, noted Jan Dunn in a post for 4Dancers.org. By increasing body temperature, you lubricate your joints, boost blood flow to your muscles, raise your breathing rate and strengthen your mind-body connection. A warm-up that is not done properly or is insufficient can lead to injury and hurt a dancer’s performance.
Younger or inexperienced dancers likely do not have a thorough understanding of what a correct and effective warm-up entails. By leading a group warm-up with all of your dancers before a competition, you can ensure that each and every one of your students has fully prepared their muscles to perform safely and at their best.
Nerves are high before a competition, and when a student is off on her own stretching and watching dancers from other studios warm-up, her nerves can jump up even higher.
“Getting engrossed in others’ dancing could make you nervous or subliminally lower your expectations for yourself,” wrote Amy Brandt for Pointe Magazine.
A group warm-up before a competition allows your students to focus on you and each other, and not the dancers they’re competing against. By following your warm-up instructions, they can focus on their own skills and better drown out noisy distractions.
An effective warm up exercise routine includes a variety of movements and stretches, and it’s much easier for dancers to forget certain movements if they’re warming up independently. A thorough warm-up involves three stages, passive, general and specific, explained Dance Advantage.
The passive warm-up is simply making gentle movements while wearing legwarmers and other layers to raise body temperature. The general warm-up, which is 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, is likely the warm-up stage most skipped over by dancers, according to the site. And the specific stage is when unique movements are done to work the main muscle groups that will be taxed during the performance, and includes barre and center work.
A thorough, multi-stage warm-up is the best preparation before a competition.
When dancers are on stage, they need to be focused on their dancing – not distracted by the uneasy feeling of foundation melting off their faces. Dance competition makeup might need to be applied hours before dancers take to the stage, and to perform at their best they need makeup that has just as much endurance as they do. Ensure your dancers’ makeup lasts from the dressing room back to the bathroom at home at the end of the night with these dance competition makeup tips!
Prep the Skin
Just like an artist needs a smooth canvas to paint his masterpiece on, you need to prepare the face before applying makeup. Foundation will adhere better if skin is free of all the grime and oil that’s been collected during the day, so first wash your face with a mild cleanser, advised Paula’s Choice Skincare. Follow up with a gentle exfoliating product to buff away any dry flakes that make the surface of the skin uneven, and finally finish with a light application of moisturizer. Now you’re ready to layer on the cosmetics.
Primer seals in the glow from your freshly buffed skin, conceals pores and provides a smooth and uniform base for foundation and concealer, making your makeup last longer. You can also choose primers made with antioxidants and nutrients, which is great for keeping skin healthy throughout competition season.
Primer is especially vital, though, in the eye area. Eyeshadows, eyeliner and mascara are notoriously flaky, and you’ve probably applied your eye makeup before only to sigh when you see that the product has migrated under your eyes after just an hour. A primer will make sure that your eye look lasts all day, even under performance pressure.
You can use your face primer on your eyes, but it’s more effective to use a specially made eye primer, since the skin of the eye is oiler and more delicate than that of the rest of the face, noted The Secret Diary of a Makeup Artist.
Foundation and Powder: An Inseparable Bond
The golden rule of stage makeup: Always top foundation with powder. A powder sets foundation and helps it last longer and helps ward off the makeup-ruining effects of sweat and heat. Mode Dion recommended choosing loose powder over pressed and applying it with a large sponge – not a brush – for the strongest set. In addition to helping make your look last, powder also gives you a beautiful glow under harsh lights. Dust on the powder before dabbing on blush, though, because of the next tip …
Primer is also a Blush Booster
A handy little tip from XOVain is to dab a little primer onto cheeks and then rub the blush on top of that. This technique not only makes the color of the blush more intense, but makes it last longer.
Define the Eyes
When it’s time to apply your eye makeup, opt for gel liner instead of liquid or crayon, as it lasts a lot longer and is less likely to smear. Fake lashes will make your eyes pop, too, but don’t hurry the process. For fluffy fake lashes that won’t flutter away mid-pirouette, let the glue sit on your lash line for at least one minute, recommended Mode Dion.
“Gel eyeliner lasts longer than other types and is less likely to smear.”
Lips that Last
A bright red pout looks fantastic on stage, but if you don’t use a matching lip liner, there’s no way the color will stay put throughout your competition. Trace the outside of your lips with the liner and then fill in with color – the liner adheres better than lipstick and acts as a sort of protective barrier that keeps the color in place. Avoid treating the audience to a red-stained smile by smearing petroleum jelly on your teeth before applying the liner and lip stick, too.
Don’t Forget the Setting Spray
You’ve finished your makeup and are looking positively fabulous. Before you step away from the mirror, though, lightly mist a setting spray over your face. The product helps your makeup last through temperature changes and nerves and keeps it from cracking and flaking off. You can find setting spray at any major cosmetics store.
Dancers get injured from time to time. It might be due to an overly rigorous practice schedule, an accidental fall, a nutritional deficit, or some other reason. However, when it does happen, it can be immensely frustrating and poorly timed. Dancers may have a big performance in a few weeks or may be looking to audition for a prestigious dance group. Whatever the event is, dance injuries aren’t fun. Consider these five common dance injuries and how to avoid them.
1. Lumbosacral Injuries
If you aren’t a dancer, you might think dancers most commonly experience injuries involving the ankles, hips and knees. While those areas are commonly affected by dance, the spine is also affected. Most often, dancers deal with lower back issues from the amount of movement they do during practice and performances. According to the Centers for Orthopaedics, most spine injuries for dancers are lumbosacral and involve intense pain. This injury can be caused by poor stability, uneven leg length, bad technique, scoliosis and even high heels. According to Dance Teacher magazine, some dancers may have lordosis, which can cause muscle spasms that make them more vulnerable to spine injuries. Following proper dancing techniques, stretching, and building core, pelvic and hip strength can help dancers avoid this common injury.
2. Snapping Hip Injuries
This injury sounds just like its name. Dancers will hear, and feel, a loud popping noise in their hip as they dance. This snap is the illiotibial band shifting over the upper leg bone and snapping. It can be incredibly painful, but there are usually a few warning signs. Most commonly, this happens when the IT band is too tight and hasn’t been stretched or warmed up properly. It can also be caused by weak muscles on the outside of the hips and lordosis. Dancers can prevent this these dance injuries by toning and strengthening all of the pelvic stabilizers, such as the hip flexors, abductors and and adductors, as well as working on the lower abdominal muscles and the core.
3. Achilles Tendonitis
Some people forget about the Achilles tendon and its importance on the body. It’s the longest tendon and connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Dancers tend to overuse this muscle, which leads to tendonitis. Usually this injury occurs if dancers experience frequent shin splints or lower their arches during warm ups, such as barre exercises. Overtraining, dancing on a hard floor and lack of stretching can also lead to this injury, which can be immensely painful and debilitating when it occurs.
4. Neck Strain
Many dancers forget about the stress they can put on their necks when they dance. However, a common dancing injury is neck strain, especially for dancers who do a lot of varied choreography. Dancers can prevent from straining their neck by lengthening it and elongating the spine when they move, instead of collapsing it.
5. Rotator Cuff Injuries
Most dances involve plenty of arm movement. If dancers continuously use their arms during practices and performances, they may end up with an overuse rotator cuff injury. This overuse can cause tendons to strain and tear, leading to intense pressure in the shoulders. Teachers should discuss proper form with students as well as the mechanics of movement. If a dancer is able to understand where the scapula is, he or she is less likely to point an arm in that direction.
As with any injury or health issue, please consult your physician. These tips are meant to be informational only, and should never replace the advice of a licensed medical practitioner.
Many dancers know that a great performance takes more than just dance skill. It also includes makeup, costume, hairstyle and even facial expressions. If one of these areas is even the slightest bit off, it could hurt your score with the judges. However, many dancers don’t have the time – or the money – to constantly worry about perfecting their hair and dance makeup to a tee. Buying new dance makeup for every performance can cost tons of money. So what is a dancer to do? Consider these five tips on how to perfect your dance makeup on any budget.
1. Start With Show-Stopping Eyes
One look to the judges can really wow them, right? Right. That’s why it’s important to find a couple of affordable pieces of quality dance makeup for your eyes.
Let’s start with the mascara. On stage, most dancers want their eyelashes to look full and dramatic, no matter what type of dance they are doing. However, it’s also wise to get a product that doesn’t clump your lashes together or make them look overdone. Consider getting Maybelline New York Full N’ Soft mascara, priced at an affordable $8 at most drugstores. According to Real Simple, this mascara is tried-and-true – it really gives eyelashes fullness without causing them to be weighed down or clumpy.
Most dancers also prefer a little eye shadow to help boost the effects. Try L’Oreal Paris High Intensity Pigments Concentrated Shadow, which costs $8, to help give your eyes an extra pop with a collection of colors to choose from. Finish the look with Wet n’ Wild eyeliner for $1.50, which comes in 12 different colors so you can change when you want to.
2. Follow With Stand-Out Lips
Some lipsticks can fade over time, especially after eating or drinking. Dancers don’t always have a minute to reapply between performances. What can dancers do? Try a moisturizing lipstick that holds longer. Or, if you have a beloved color you can’t go without, add a little Vaseline to your lips to help it stay.
If you’re looking for a cheap yet lasting lipstick to complete your look, try Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick for $9, Elle recommended. This lipstick comes in 20 different colors, so you can match it with any outfit. It also contains almond oil to keep your lips moisturized and your lipstick on without issue.
3. Create A Full, Even Complexion
You want to glow when you’re on stage, so use your concealer and bronzer to help. Begin with L’Oreal True Match concealer for a mere $9, which helps hide any blemishes or dark spots and reduces redness. Try out the L’Oreal Paris True Makeup Foundation, $11 at drugstores, that comes in a variety of shades so you can blend effortlessly.
To add color and shape to your face, try an easy blush, such as Almay Touch-Pad Blush for $10 or Physician’s Formula Multi-Colored Bronzer for $13. Try both or just one depending on what type of look you’re aiming for. To help keep your complexion from smudging, test out Coty Airspun Face Powder, which costs $7 and is light enough to change the color of the foundation, blush or bronzer on your face.
4. Give Yourself Some Color
If you’re worried you might look washed out under the bright lights while on stage, don’t fret and run for a darker pair of tights. Instead, keep your color looking natural with spray tan. Sometimes spray tans can come out streaky or turn a different shade than you expected.
Luckily, that’s not the case with Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, priced at $10. This spray-on formula goes on easy and smoothly so you don’t have to worry about discolored legs or stripes. It also dries fast so you can apply even if you’re in a hurry. If you’re looking for the most even coverage, ask a friend or fellow dancer to spray you down.
5. Consider the imperfections
While you might try your best, not everything can go perfectly all the time. You might accidentally smudge your lipstick, your mascara may smear or you could forget you’re wearing blush and leave an outfit with makeup marks. That’s when it’s wise to have backup. Always bring along a pack of Q-Tips and even a few makeup remover wipes to help you get rid of those errors as soon as they happen.
Regardless of whether you’re a ballet dancer or into hip-hop, there are a few critical items every dancer needs at competitions. Without these items, something is bound to go awry. While other products may seem more essential, these five help every dancer be at their best at dance competitions. Whether you’re a forgetful person or always on top of your game, don’t forget these five dance competition essentials!
1. Hair Supplies
Believe it or not, hair can play a larger role in your dance score than you think. Along with accurate timing and a smile on your face, your hair should always be put together and kept in place. However, managing these expectations can be difficult.
You may figure that your hair will stay in place on its own, but after performing a few routines, it will begin to come out. That’s why every dancer needs a hairbrush, hairspray and plenty of bobby pins, Backstage noted. Each part of this group is critical to a dancer’s performance. If a dancer’s hair begins to fall out of its style, it can distract them, get in their eyes and potentially cause them to mess up their dance steps. Make sure that the bottle of hairspray is big, as you might have to apply again after a few performances. Pack hundreds of bobby pins, in case a dance partner or teammate needs a few extras.
2. Extra Tights
Tights are an essential dance item and come with almost every dance costume, the University of Texas-Dallas stated. Yet this necessary item often tears quite easily. Torn tights can make a dancer’s appearance look sloppy and disheveled during her performance.
Whether your tights rip while you’re offstage or they catch on a splinter during your first performance, it’s important to have back up! Make sure you pack at least two more pairs of tights in your bag that are the exact same color as your current pair, unless you need different colors for different outfits. You don’t want to be scrambling last minute looking for an extra pair of tights!
3. Warm-up Gear
Every dance studio’s temperature can be different, so it’s important to be prepared. Always bring a pair of loose pants and a zip-up sweatshirt to warm up in before your dance performances. Plus, if your routine involves a lot of movement on the ground, your warm ups will prevent your costume from getting dirty!
4. A Nutritious Snack
A day at a dance competition can sometimes be long and grueling. While some venues may have places that dancers and families can grab a quick bite, not all do. In these instances, it’s wise for dancers to pack a healthy snack for themselves during the competition.
Getting in a nutritious snack, instead of an unhealthy one, can help dancers get through their routines without feeling weighed down. Consider small, easy-to-eat snacks such as cheese and crackers or celery and peanut butter. Both these snacks have a little bit of protein as well as carbohydrates to keep dancers satisfied and energetic throughout their routines.
Regardless of the length of your competition, it’s important to stay hydrated. As mentioned, some venues can get really hot, and during more intense routines, dancers may sweat a lot and become dehydrated. It’s important to replenish the fluids lost to keep dancers at their best.
Every dancer at every level needs to constantly drink water to keep from fainting or becoming light-headed during a performance, which can be very dangerous and lead to threatening injuries. Consider getting a large, hard plastic bottle that is resilient and durable. That way, if you’re on the go, you’ll have enough water without immediately needing to fill up.