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Tag: dance makeup

Host a Hair and Makeup Seminar for Competitive Dancers at Your Studio

hair and makeup

The hair and make-up process for dancers, especially competitive dancers, can be daunting. To help parents and dancers understand the process of creating a particular hair and make-up “look”, host a hair and makeup seminar where parents and children can go through the process.

That way, they can go through the motions step-by-step, in a practice environment.

We host our seminar in mid-to-late January. Before the seminar, we email out a list that includes all of the supplies required for hair, make-up, tights, and shoes.

At the seminar, we go through the process of:

  1. Styling Hair (detailed to the location of the part)
  2. Applying Make-Up Properly (and using the proper colors, and in what order)
  3. Applying False Eyelashes
  4. Checking for Correct Colors of Tights/Shoes, to match with the rest of the costume

This makes EVERYONE feel more prepared for the dress rehearsal prior to the first competition, and, at competition, everyone feels more at ease and prepared.

For some help on explaining important makeup tips, check out our articles on dance competition makeup:

Dance Competition Makeup Tips

Stay-Put Tips for Dance Competition Makeup

You can also share our Dance Parents Competition Survival Guide so parents can get a head start on getting the right materials to make it through a busy competition weekend!


Dance Life Hack: Fixing Your Powder Compact

powder compact

Dancers: do you ever waste make-up because your powder compact, eyeshadow, or blush crumbles too quickly?

We’ve all dealt with the huge mess it creates!

Here’s an easy life hack to fix your broken powder compact:

  1. Once the powder compact crumbles, press down all of the make-up with your fingers.
  2. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol on the product.
  3. Smooth the compact out with your fingers.
  4. Pour an additional 1 1/2 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol on the product and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. When the product dries to a creamy consistency, use a butter knife to smooth the surface.
  6. Fold a piece of a kitchen towel/cloth over the compact to use as a barrier. Smooth the product out with a flat surface (such as a lotion lid).

Voila- your product will be like new!


Stage Makeup for Kids: How to Do Recital Makeup on Young Dancers

Applying stage makeup for kids and younger dancers requires a slightly different approach. Here are some tips on appropriate stage makeup for young dancers!

Dancers use their craft to tell a story for the audience, projecting emotions, words and ideas with their movements. The ability to wordlessly translate their feelings for the crowd is a refined skill. Dancers need to use their whole bodies and the expressions on their faces to help convey the emotion of the moment. But with the bright, shining lights flooding the stage, it’s easy for dancers’ expressions to be washed out. That means the subtle nuances that are essential for setting the tone for their story to be over-looked. For younger dancers, having well-applied stage makeup for kids makes all the difference.

By highlighting dancers’ facial features, it makes it easier for the audience to see their expressions. It’s an important and long-standing tradition in the community for dancers to include stage makeup as a routine component of their costumes. This can be a little tricky when it comes to stage makeup for kids and young dancers, however.

Less Is More for Stage Makeup for Kids

While most young dancers haven’t yet mastered the proper expressiveness for their dance routines, stage makeup for kids and younger dancers is still usually required for performances. It makes them more visible for the audience and compliments the overall costumed look of a recital.

Though stage makeup still plays an important role in the presentation of young dancers, there are some differences in how their palettes should be applied. It’s not uncommon for moms and dads to have some reservations about putting a full adult-level application of makeup on their young children’s faces. As such, simplicity and minimalism are key strategies that many parents choose for their young dancers.

There’s no need to worry about intricate contours and layer upon layer of products for young dancers. The important step is to highlight their facial features so that they can be seen.

How to Apply Stage Makeup for Kids

Parents know their kids better than anyone else does, so they may be better equipped to gauge what their little ones can handle when for the patience and cautiousness that comes with a full face of makeup.

However, in most cases it’s better to wait until closer to showtime to apply makeup on young dancers. Since they aren’t used to having makeup on it may be easier for them to forget it’s there and inadvertently rub their faces, streaking mascara and lipstick as they go. While there’s no need to reach deep into the pockets to pay for top-shelf products for kids, some parents may want to invest in waterproof or smudge-proof cosmetics to prevent some of these accidents as well.

When applying makeup to a young dancer, it’s important to make sure they’re able to sit calmly and wait for the process to be over. Kids who fidget or are too excited for their show to sit still may need to have their makeup applied in stages so they can have a break to shake some of that energy out. It would be a good idea to have them wear an old shirt over their outfit during this process as well in case anything should spill.

After they are seated and ready to go, parents can begin to apply their stage makeup:

The Face

For foundation: Some parents may prefer to opt out of foundation. Check with the instructors to be sure, but most won’t require foundation for very young dancers. If you choose to go that route, however, that will be the first step.

Make sure the color matches your child’s skin tone. If she’s never worn makeup before, test the skin on the inside of her wrist to make sure she doesn’t have any allergies to the product. Use a makeup sponge to dab the foundation evenly across her face and neck once you’ve determined that it’s safe. Dance for Kids recommends going over a liquid foundation with a powder to help the foundation set and to avoid extra shininess under the stage lights.

For blush: Stage makeup for kids will be a little more dramatic than normal makeup, so the blush should be slightly more pronounced. Since kids tend to not have defined cheekbones, have your dancer smile the biggest, cheesiest smile she can, or else suck in her cheeks to make a fish face. This will help you find the apples of her cheeks. Swipe upwards toward the temples with a blush brush.

The Eyes

You’ll again want to verify with your child’s program to see how much eye makeup they prefer. Some will be fine with just a little eye shadow and mascara for young dancers. The most basic stage makeup for kids will include eyeliner.

For eye shadow: Choose a neutral color to highlight the brow bone first, or just focus on the lid. The lid color should be close to your dancer’s natural skin tone, just a few shades darker. For pale dancers that could mean either a tan or light grey, for example. Sweep a brush over the crease of her eyelid and blend down toward her lashes.

For eyeliner: The Champaign-Urbana Ballet recommends using eyeliner on the bottom and top lids to help emphasize the eye. Be aware that for young children a traditional pencil liner may be too hard for their delicate skin. Instead try a liquid or gel liner that has a soft applicator.

For mascara: Most mascara tubes have brushes that are too big for small eyelashes. Try finding a small sample- or travel-size mascara, or one that’s made for lower lashes. These will be smaller and more manageable on young faces. Many kids will be wary of having something so close their eyes. A good tip is to have them roll their eyes up at the ceiling while you apply the mascara, so they don’t see the wand so close to their eye.

The Lips

To help keep lipstick from smudging, apply a primer or more foundation over her lips first.

For lipliner: Lipliner will help keep lipstick in place. Use a pencil liner that matches the lipstick shade to outline the edge of your dancers’ lips, then color in the rest of the lip.

For lipstick: Apply lipstick last and be sure your dancer blots with a tissue. Keep straws handy so she can sip on drinks without smudging her lipstick.


Dance Competition Makeup: A Checklist

Competition Makeup

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

1. Moisturizer

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.

3. Foundation

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!

4. Concealer

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.

7. Blush

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.

8. Eyeshadows

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.

11. Mascara

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.

13. Lipstick

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.


Stay-Put Tips for Dance Competition Makeup

dance competition makeup

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, Everywhere

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.


5 Ways To Perfect Your Dance Makeup On A Budget

dance makeup

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.


How to Prepare for a Dance Competition

How to Prepare for A Dance Competition

Preparing for a dance competition is no easy feat, especially if your team is a newcomer to the circuit. There are lots of things you have to take care of before the big day, like last-minute costume tweaks and makeup tutorials, as well as burning backup music and gathering emergency supplies. Use this guide on how to prepare for a dance competition to make sure your studio, dancers and parents are ready.

The Week Before

You’ll want to give yourself ample time to check every minute task off your to-do list, so it’s best to start preparing at least a week in advance. Procrastinators beware! You will only give yourself a headache trying to get everything together the night before, and chances are that you’ll end up forgetting something important.

There are a few essential tasks that studio owners and dance teachers should complete in the weeks heading up to a competition. These include:

  • Finalize any necessary paperwork.
  • Ensure that your team is in the right category.
  • Check in with any chaperones and teachers.
  • Triple-check transportation arrangements.
  • Look into parking at the venue.
  • Make extra copies of your music.
  • Create or restock your dance competition survival kit.
  • Help your students perfect any tricky hair or makeup styles.
  • Run through choreography one last time in full costume.
  • Talk about behavioral expectations with your dancers – and parents, if necessary.

You may also want to talk with your team about best packing practices. While you’ll likely have emergency supplies, like bandages, hair spray and a sewing kit, it will be up to your dancers to ensure that they have everything they need for the competition. Dance Advantage recommended showing dancers how to roll costumes to reduce wrinkles and stash each outfit in a separate bag with coordinating accessories, extra tights and undergarments. Many studios choose to hand out competition packing checklists to help dancers cover all the necessary bases.

The Night Before

Both you and your team will likely be nervous the night before, so it’s important to take steps to relax and prepare yourselves for the big day. On Stage Dance recommended that everyone pack up their bags the night before and double-check that they have everything crossed off the checklist.

It’s best to eat a healthy meal the day before a competition. Advise your dancers to stay away from fast food, sugary treats and caffeine, and refrain from overloading on carbs. Instead, opt for a well-balanced meal that will help them feel satiated and get to bed on time.

Finally, it’s important for you and your dancers to get a full night’s sleep before a competition. Take steps to relax before bed, like soaking in a warm bath or reading a book. Try not to watch too much TV or stare at your phone, as these can make it harder to get to sleep. Instead, head to bed early, but don’t forget to set your alarm!

The Day Of

If you’ve taken care of all the prep work in advance, you can simply wake up on the morning of your competition, grab your bags and head to the bus. Hopefully your dancers have equally prepared and can do the same. However, there may be one or two students running late, so be sure to give your team plenty of time to get to the venue, change and warm up.

It’s best to get your dancers into costume and makeup at least one hour before their performance time. You never know how many other teams will be crowding the changing rooms, so give yourself ample time to score the best mirrors and perfect each dancer’s look. Once everyone is warmed up and ready to go, give your team a pep talk then watch them dance their hearts out!


Dance Recital Makeup: 6 Tips

Dance Recital Makeup

Whether you’re a studio owner, dance teacher, performer parent or dancer, your brain is probably filled with a flurry of little details the day before a recital. There’s costumes to be steamed, stage props to be perfected and flowers to be purchased. And of course, there’s the issue of applying each performer’s dance recital makeup.

Regular daytime makeup simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to recitals. The dancers are a significant distance from the audience, so a light coat of mascara and a sweep of blush won’t be visible to the proud parents. The concept of stage makeup is tricky and often counterintuitive to new performers, so use these six tips to apply bold, eye-catching dance recital makeup.

1. Clean Those Tools

Before you apply any foundation, eyeshadow or blush, clean off your brushes! Allure magazine explained that cosmetic brushes and spongers are porous and can soak up oil, debris and bacteria. You definitely don’t want to be spreading those around your face! It’s best to be using clean tools to apply your stage makeup, so wash off all your implements the day before the recital. You can use a bit of a moisturizing shampoo or a special brush cleaner to get all the makeup remnants off your brushes.

2. Use the 3-Step Eyeshadow Method

Almost all dance recital makeup includes eyeshadow, and you can make any style look for dynamic by using the three-eyeshadow method. You’ll need three colors for this look: a highlighter, your main color and a dark complementary shade. To start, sweep a light layer of lid primer over your entire eyelid. Gotta Dance NJ recommended that you then liberally apply the highlighter, usually a white or champagne, under your eyebrows and in the corners of your eyes. Lightly blend the highlighter toward the center of your eyelid.

Next, you’ll want to apply the main color, which usually matches your outfit, to your eyelids. Go ahead and sweep a good amount onto each lid, then blend the color upward into the highlighter. For this application to look its best, keep blending until your lid has an ombre effect. The colors should seamlessly transition from dark to light.

Finally, look straight ahead and dab just a bit of the darkest shade into your crease. This will help your eyes to really pop when you’re up on stage. Be sure to blend this color along your crease for a flawless eyeshadow look.

3. Embolden Everyone’s Brows

If there’s one step that some performers forget about, it’s filling in their brows. However, this is a crucial step, especially if you have light or sparse eyebrows. Use a slanted precision brush to carefully outline each brow with color. You’ll want to use a product that’s pretty close to your natural hair color, otherwise your brows might be too prominent. Another option is to use a brow pencil – just make sure it’s sharpened for a neat, precise line.

4. Don’t be Afraid of Blush

You may be tempted to just sweep on a light layer of blush, but those rosy pink cheeks are a crucial part of stage makeup. Many people shy away from this product because when applied liberally, you may look a little clownish. However, you have to keep in mind that blush helps to keep your face colorful and lively under those harsh stage lights. You may think you look silly after applying a heavy coat of pink to your apples, but it will translate into a happy, radiant look on stage.

When you’re applying blush, start with your brush on the apple of your cheek – smile to make the area more prominent – then sweep the color out and upward toward your temples. This will help you look great head-on as well as from a profile view.

5. Blending is Your Best Friend

Whether you’re applying foundation, eyeshadow, blush or lip color, the key to a great look is to blend, blend and blend some more. This technique will ensure that your makeup is cohesive and not splotchy. Many cosmetic gurus like to use foam wedges or sponges to blend out their foundation. However, you can also use a big, soft brush as long as it’s free of any other makeup. Blend your eyeshadow for a flawless transition between colors and work your lip color into the lip liner to make your pout look professional.

6. Cheat a Little

Some people are naturally talented when it comes to applying makeup, but there’s no need to worry if you’re all thumbs. Plenty of dancers have to practice for years before they get the hang of stage makeup application. Luckily, there are some ways you can make your life easier with cosmetic cheats or “hacks.” You can dry up acne with a dot of toothpaste, open up sleepy eyes with white liner, perfect a cat​ eye with an index card or even apply falsies on the first try with the help of a cotton swab and a pair of cuticle scissors.


Tips for a Backstage Bravo!

Tips for a Backstage Bravo!

Some people think the “show” is what happens onstage at the spring recital, but every dance studio owner knows that the REAL show happens backstage!

If you want to see a real symphony of choreography, watch the show from behind the curtains because that’s where the magic happens. Changing costumes, fixing makeup, getting kids lined up for dances, keeping little ones entertained until they perform, calming toddler fears, encouraging senior soloists, and finding lost shoes are all part of orchestrating a good show.

And, if that doesn’t impress you, let me tell you this: A 12 year old doing fouette turns has nothing on a pre-school teacher changing outfits and tap shoes on 15 4-year-olds. We may not be able to turn like the teenagers anymore, but nobody can turn around back stages issues faster than studio owners and dance teachers.

If you are ready to up your backstage performance this year, keep reading for 6 Tips for a Backstage Bravo!

  1. An Ounce of Prevention – Do you remember your grandma saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”  Well, it turns out Grandma was right.  Every bit of time you put in checking and re-checking the recital order for issues now will save you piles of problems later. Tired of looking at the recital lineup? Enlist the help of teachers or a family member to make sure that every student has adequate time to change and get lined up for their dances. If you end up with a handful of tight changes that can’t be avoided, use it as an opportunity to plan ahead.
  2. Entertaining Little Ones – Over the years we have tried everything for entertaining little ones backstage from coloring sheets to board games, from crafts to movies. In spite of all our creative efforts, we’ve discovered that the best entertainment is actually our show! No, we can’t take kids out to the show, but we can bring the show to the kids. While our little ones wait in a classroom type holding area, the older dancers stop in and perform their dance once before hitting the stage. Not only does this keep little ones entertained, it refreshes the memories of the older dancers right before they have to perform.
  3. Three Station System – While attending a cheerleading competition, I discovered a new way to line up numbers for performance time. The event organizers always had three routines lined up in the wings, referring to them as on “on deck”, “in the hole” and “performing next.” The event was so well run I changed my line up process immediately to reflect this flow. The new system allowed me to tighten the transitions between dances and spend less time running around looking for kids. It also helped keep kids entertained backstage longer by looking forward to moving through the stations on the way to the stage.
  4. Changing Little Ones – We don’t change costumes on kids under 5 years old (they wear the same costume for both tap and ballet, which parents and teachers love), but we do have to swap out shoes between routines. We used to line their shoes up by names backstage…until we realized most of them couldn’t read.☺ Now we have placemats with pictures of rainbows, puppies, and other cheery objects where their shoes sit waiting for action.  Each child knows to find their placemat and swap shoes as soon as they finish their first dance.
  5. Check-In, Check-Out – There’s no question about it; recital is a busy place. Having said that, nothing is more disconcerting to parents than dropping their child off in a chaotic environment or not being able to find them after the show. Whether it’s lineup information or a dressing room location, directions to seating or post-show pick up instructions; keep parents happy by having a well-oiled check-in and check-out procedures. All of our teachers and volunteers wear bright red studio shirts and name badges to signal to parents that we are well staffed and under control. Instructions for check-in and check-out are covered during in-class dress rehearsals and on-stage dress rehearsals as well as in the newsletter, the recital program book and a post-show reminder announcement.
  6. Everything is “Figure-out-able” – Figure-out-able may not be a word, but it IS my recital motto. Our teachers are instructed that no matter the problem, we can figure out a solution. No shoes? No problem. Borrow a pair from another student. Forgotten headpiece? No worries. We don’t need to wear them anyway. Scared dancer? No stress. Just do a non-emergency page for a parent hug. Child misses a dance for some reason? Nothing to cry about, we will re-do the number.

Time spent planning combined with a positive attitude will help you earn a “Bravo!” on both sides of the curtain this year.

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More Than Just Great Dancing


Dance Competition Checklist: What to Pack

Dance competition checklist

When your first dance competition of the season is approaching, parents are inevitably going to ask you, “What should we bring?” After all, dance competitions are like any all-day sport tournament, and they require a bit of advanced preparation if everyone is going to have a good time. Here’s a simple way to break down must-haves into a dance competition checklist for your eager parents and students.

Costume Concerns

The first big category of necessary items in your dance competition checklist: costumes and accessories. Naturally, your dancers will need their outfits for each performance, as well as the appropriate tights and undergarments. Ask parents to bring an extra pair of tights in each color and a spare set of bra straps if they have them. Some other costume-related items that parents may want to have handy include:

  • Miniature sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Lint brush
  • Static guard
  • Stain removal pen
  • Double-sided tape.

During the course of the competition, you may need items like hot glue, body adhesive and rosin, but you should always have those stashed in your dance competition survival kit!

Beauty Bags

The second major category of must-haves in your dance competition checklist is composed of beauty products and tools. It’s best to have extra of any cosmetic that dancers are wearing, be it lipstick, foundation, falsies, nail polish, eyeshadow or blush. Similarly, ask parents to bring along some makeup remover, deodorant, cotton swabs, tweezers and any necessary tools, like makeup brushes, nail clippers and false lash glue. It’s also a good idea to have hair care supplies stashed away somewhere. Don’t dash out the door to a competition without these items:

  • Hair brushes and combs
  • Extra bobby pins and elastics
  • Hair spray
  • Hair nets
  • Any necessary hair accessories.

Miscellaneous Must-Haves

There are also a number of miscellaneous items that students will wish they had at a long competition. These include healthy snacks, plenty of water, disinfecting wipes, cellphone chargers, magazines, cameras and portable games. For parents, you may want to recommend they bring a comfortable chair to relax in during downtime, as well as a book to read and cash for souvenirs.

Show Some Support

Win or lose, your dancers will have a positive competition experience if parents are there to cheer them on. Parents may want to consider wearing matching T-shirts or creating signs for your team if the venue allows it. Most importantly, tell parents to bring their spirit and lots of positive energy!

Editor’s note: Readers have suggested some great additions to the list, including deodorant, clear nail polish for stopping runs in tights, hair gel, mousse, specifically remembering to list all the different shoes a dancer will need (tap, jazz etc.), extension cords, and charging cables for cell phones, and even a glue gun. Specifically for tap emergencies, you may also want to have a screwdriver and shoe polish.


Dance Competition Makeup Tips

Dance Competition Makeup Tips

The finishing touch on top of an awesome competition costume is flawless makeup. Your dancers’ cosmetics can truly really make or break their whole look, so it’s important that you put adequate time and effort into planning and executing their makeup. Whether you’re a newcomer to the competition circuit or just want a refresher on best practices, here are several dance competition makeup tips and tricks that will help bring out your inner makeup artist.

“Skin should be hydrated when applying makeup.”

Start with a Clean Canvas

Your students’ makeup needs to last all day, so you’ll want to do everything possible to make sure it’s applied correctly. Instruct your dancers to wash their faces in the morning and apply a light moisturizer. For best results, skin should be hydrated, but not oily, when applying makeup. Use a quality primer under foundation to ensure maximum staying power, and opt for water-resistant products whenever possible.

Know How to Highlight

Once each dancer has applied foundation that matches his or her unique skin tone, you can make the look more stage-ready by applying highlights. Shimmery powder can really add dimension to your dancers’ faces, so gently sweep a light shade on top of their cheekbones. Be sure to finish off the look with a translucent powder that will help the makeup stay.

Another area where it’s important to apply highlights is around the eyes. Sweep a neutral eyeshadow, such as champagne or ivory, under your dancers’ brows to help define the shape. You can also dab a glittery powder in the corners of their eyes to really help them sparkle. These understated touches will give your dancers’ overall look a bit of extra flair and elegance.

Eyeliner is an essential piece of dance competition makeup.
Eyeliner is an essential piece of dance competition makeup.

Don’t Skimp on Liner

It’s probably fair to say that any dance makeup look should include eyeliner and lip liner. These two tools are invaluable when it comes to clean, defined and long-lasting cosmetics. Pick a waterproof gel eyeliner to outline your dancers’ eyes – this will ensure you get clean lines that don’t rub off when they sweat. You may want to bring along an index card to help touch up any smudged cat-eyes before your dancers hit the stage.

When it comes to bold lips, you’ll definitely need to use lip liner. Use a product that’s one shade darker than the lipstick, and make sure to have a sharpener on hand. Define each dancers’ cupid’s bow and the sides of her lips before applying all-over lip color.

False Lashes: A Necessary Evil

If there’s one beauty product that’s a pain in the butt, it’s fake eyelashes. However, most dance professionals agree that false lashes are necessary for big performances, as they make dancers’ eyes look bigger and more prominent. You’ll find many tips and tricks on how to apply falsies, but the best way to get faux lashes on perfectly is simply to practice. Be generous when applying glue, so there aren’t any eyelash malfunctions mid-performance, and don’t be afraid to apply a few coats of mascara over the lashes to separate and define them.

A bold cosmetic look is eye-catching, but also risky.
A bold cosmetic look is eye-catching, but also tricky to perfect.

Tips for Wild Cosmetics

If your competition team is performing a particularly creative piece, you may decide to go with bold, eccentric makeup. Use the following dance competition makeup tips to ensure that you can pull off wild stage cosmetics on the big day.

  • You probably saw this one coming, but practice, practice, practice!
  • Don’t sweat the little details. Chances are that the judges won’t even notice if a line isn’t perfect.
  • If you’re planning a complex design, be sure you have quality tools – brushes, sponges, cotton swabs – and products that will minimize mistakes.
  • Start with a light application of makeup. It’s better if you need to add more than to mess up and have to start over.
  • Set the finished look with a layer of powder, and remind your students not to rub their faces!

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.