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.
Every studio, at some point, has to manage difficult situations involving dance parents. The Dance Exec’s Studio has been in that position numerous times, and parent management is a skill that must be continually honed and evolved in order to be effective and productive.
Before sharing information that The Dance Exec’s Studio has found beneficial, it is necessary to preface this topic with the disclaimer that many dance parents are perfectly reasonable, rational, understanding, and nice. For parents that may not be as reasonable, there are measures that can be implemented to protect yourself and your business. These tips are most certainly not the definitive pinnacles of dance parent management, but they have helped The Dance Exec’s Studio greatly and will likely help you, as well.
TIP 1: Define Communication Methods
Your ability to communicate and interact with dance parents is critical to the success of your business. You must be confident in your business, staff, methods, and service, and you should have written materials to back-up your rules, policies, and procedures. The combination of confidence and written materials will deter and quickly dissolve many of your studio’s potential conflicts. You are providing your studio parents the tools to succeed, and if they choose to neglect the materials presented, their failure is no longer your fault.
Within your communication infrastructure, your studio should have a single point person (ideally, the Owner or Director) that handles resolving serious concerns and issues. This point person should be accessible to parents. When there are too many people to go through, resolutions feel impersonal and unimportant. It is imperative that the point person take the time to respond to emails, field phone calls, and speak to parents that request meetings.
Concerns and issues should be addressed in a timely manner and should not be avoided. Issues should be addressed within 24 hours. Many times, people assume avoidance will resolve an issue; instead, this assumption often backfires and the issue magnifies and may even escalate throughout the studio (parents love to convince other parents to “take their side”). Take every initiative possible to prevent miscommunications and misunderstandings, and when a situation arises, defuse it immediately.
TIP 2: Set Professional Boundaries
When studios blur the lines between friendship and clientele, opportunity arises for conflicts, accusations of favoritism, and disrespect towards the studio. If everyone is treated equally and no favoritism is shown towards any particular family, then no one can comment or complain on unfair situations (whether they are accurate or not). Since the students and families of your studio are your clientele and the livelihood of your business, they should all be treated in an equal and respectful manner.
Often, studios will accept lavish gifts from particular dance parents or will give certain families scholarships. Ask yourself if engaging in these acts influences the way you treat these students and families. When relationships become overly personal, it is difficult to see situations from an objective perspective, which can negatively influence the relationship and the culture of your business.
Treat everyone as equally and professionally as possible. Apply the rules to everyone and only make exceptions if you are willing to equally offer them.
TIP 3: Be Confident in Your Knowledge
Parents have opinions on how classes should be taught, who you should hire, what costumes should be worn, and how recital should be organized—and, that is only the beginning of the list of their opinions. You have to be confident enough in what you offer that you are unwavering in your decisions and choices for your business.
You are the expert, and you must approach each situation from that perspective. Parents are paying to have their students enrolled in your training program. And for the training to be successful, they have to trust your judgment and qualifications.
For this relationship to be successful, you have to maintain your qualifications. Stay current, know what is happening in your studio and in the dance industry, and be quick, confident, and knowledgeable about any questions regarding dance, the dance industry, your studio, your class disciplines, dance apparel, dance music, etc. If it happens in the dance world and is related to dance in any way, you should know how to answer the question. Not knowing is unacceptable and will damage parental confidence in your brand.
(As a side note, if you do not know the answer to a particular question, you should research and find the appropriate answer. Making up an answer is unacceptable, too.)
TIP 4: Be the Leader
Your studio culture depends heavily on your leadership and behavior. Dance parents will follow your behavioral cues. If you easily lose your temper, parents will be on edge. If you stress winning over learning, parents will buy into that philosophy. If you employ an inner competitiveness over a nurturing facility, that will be the environment within your studio. If you teach improper technique, your clients will think that you are right.
The bottom line is that you are the professional, and you have the highly important duty of setting in motion the values and culture that will influence each and every one of your students and parents during the time spent at your studio. You must be very careful in your daily interactions, continuing education, networking, and communication because it all intertwines to define your studio. How do you want to be perceived? Be sure your behavior sows the seeds you wish to reap.
TIP 5: Take the Higher Road
There will be sensitive situations, criticisms, and feedback that will be difficult to hear. It is absolutely unavoidable, and the more people and clients you encounter, the greater the likelihood of such situations. Even if a client is losing his/her temper, it is imperative that you remain calm, professional, and collected regardless of the situation. With such situations, it is important that you handle them in a discretionary manner; gossiping about clients will only make you appear unprofessional and immature.
TIP 6: Prepare for Stressful Situations
Identify high-stress times for parents during the dance year and take extra measures to ensure they are prepared and ready (Per Tip #1, eliminating the surprise element and communicating explicit details are keys to your success). For The Dance Exec’s Studio, the highest-stress times are competitions and recitals. Be sensitive to parental needs and realize that their stress is likely stemming from being in an unfamiliar environment. If you approach the situation with confidence and reassurance, the stress will likely diffuse.
TIP 7: Sometimes It’s Better to Let Go
Sometimes, clients will be dissatisfied with your business, and often times, it has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Our studio operates under the policy that everyone deserves to be a part of a studio or extracurricular that is the “best fit” for his or her family.
With some situations, offering the person the opportunity to receive a refund and attend elsewhere is the ideal option. It allows them the opportunity to leave your studio on a positive note (in most cases) and removes their toxicity from your studio. An overly negative parent can affect other clients, and it is much better to let them go than to hang on to them.
Money is not necessarily everything in regards to your business, and it is important that you recognize when it is time to let someone go from your programming.
TIP 8: Rely on Your Networks
Dealing with dance parents and clients can be stressful. Rely on your network of business and studio owners to discuss problematic situations and read books about interacting and managing people to maintain a fresh perspective. The Dance Exec is also happy to help discuss handling case-by-case scenarios. Do not let parental problems effect the way you operate your business; be confident, be strong, and be proud of what you have created.
In business we call it “first impressions.” Psychologists call it “thin slicing.” Regardless of what you call it, career experts say it takes just three seconds for someone to determine whether they like you and want to do business with you.
According to BusinessInsider.com (2015), you have even less time to make a good first impression. Research from Princeton, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Liverpool demonstrates that judgments people make regarding your trustworthiness, intelligence and competence as a business leader are based on first impressions—sometimes in as little as one-tenth of a second.
One-tenth of a second?
If you don’t think this is true, just measure your own reactions next time you walk into someone else’s business for the first time. If a friend recommends a new restaurant but it has a funny smell when I walk in the door, I immediately begin to question my decision to eat there. Once, when I was driving on vacation I stopped to check availability at a hotel, but walked out before I could get the answer—based on my first impression.
The situation doesn’t have to be extreme to leave a bad impression. Have you ever taken your children to another activity outside of dance and found yourself fighting the urge to jump in and help the coach manage the children? Or have you ever wanted to straighten up someone else’s lobby? That’s why the saying, “First impressions make lasting impressions” is true.
Keep reading to learn what first impressions you may be giving your dance families without even realizing it.
Indeed the very first impression we make on a potential or new client sets a powerful tone for the rest of the relationship. Think about all of the different layers of first impressions someone has with your business before the first class:
It might start with a referral from a friend, or overhearing an opinion from another community member at the pool or the PTA. This will be followed up with a Google search for your business or a scroll through your social media. You may not be able to control what people say at the pool or the PTA, but once a prospective client visits you online, you are in control of the first impressions and client experience. Will your potential customer find an easy-to-navigate and up-to-date mobile site, or will they be forced to stretch and scroll for days in order to find basic information? Can they register online, or will they have to leave a voicemail and hope someone gets back to them? What will the first time mom find when she searches for you on social media? She’s mostly likely looking for children’s classes. Is that what she will see, or will she only see accolades for your advanced dancers?
It will take much less time for a prospective client to do all of the things above than it took for me to write the paragraph describing the process. That’s how fast business is moving now. The process a prospective client will got through will either be:
Hear about you, look for you online or call, have a good first impression, inquire for more information, become a student.
Hear about you, look for you online or call, have a negative first impression, look someplace else.
And, it can happen in minutes.
Let’s assume for a moment that you leave a positive first impression with the prospective client and they enroll in classes. You’ve won, right? Not so fast. Now begin the many layers of first impressions you will have on your new client for years to come.
First impressions don’t end after an initial introduction or enrollment of a new student. Not at all! This is where the real work begins. Think of all the “first time experiences” a student will go through with your studio.
First parent’s day.
First picture day.
First buying recital tickets experience.
And, that’s just the first year. The “firsts” keep building the longer they remain clients.
First placement for the next year’s classes.
First audition for a team.
First problem with a class.
First disappointment with a placement.
First conflict with school.
First pair of pointe shoes.
Each of these interactions is an opportunity to make another new first impression. How do you handle problems at your studio as a leader? Do you lead with communication and a we-can-figure-this-out-together attitude? Do have an attitude of grace and service or are you quick to become defensive about policies and complaints?
As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I would add, “You never get to stop making first impressions.”
If first impressions matter so much, and for such a long time over the studio-client relationship, why don’t we do more to create more continuous positive first impressions as studio owners? The reasons are simple:
Lack of understanding/awareness
Lack of experience
Lack of time
Lack of resources
You are simply too close to see it
Will you commit with me to make the 2016-17 school year a season of getting serious about the many layers of continuous first impressions we make on the students and families that we serve each week? It will not only help you to influence other’s perception of your business, but it also projects trustworthiness and inspires confidence in your abilities.
Putting continual effort into positive first impressions exudes friendliness, approachability and likeability to your clients and opens doors to opportunities in the community. Put first impressions first on your to-do list this year.
Looking for more inspiration? Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life.
Check out Misty’s new book, One Small Yes, available on Amazon. This book is a must read for studio owners that are looking for ways to balance the dance of work and life.
“Amazing! One Small Yes is such a great book on finding your calling in life and how to navigate and work through living out the calling. Must have for all entrepreneurs!!” – Kristen, Absolute Dance
“Loved One Small Yes by Misty Lown. Outstanding book for anyone, especially the small business owner or entrepreneur. An inspirational book which helps the reader face challenges and give them the courage to continue to move forward and face what lies ahead. Loved it!” – Melanie, Tonawanda Dance Arts
“Reading Misty’s book was like opening my inbox and finding a personal email written just for me. She took my thoughts and feelings about being a small business owner, put them down on paper, and then step by step carefully explained what was holding me back from achieving more in life. Now I have no excuses to moving closer to my Yes.” – Nancy, Studio B Dance
The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.
Your dancers could be able to perform their choreography perfectly in their sleep, but without volunteers, a recital just won’t be a success. There are so many moving parts involved with putting on a dance recital, from selling tickets to managing dancers backstage. The dancers, of course, are the stars of the show, but the event volunteers are the vital gears that turn to make the recital a true showstopper.
However, the combination of recruiting, organizing and handling volunteers during recital season is no easy matter. Maybe you have a hard time finding people interested in helping out, or conversely, maybe you have too many people lending a hand and don’t know how to effectively manage them all. And how do you make sure you make the experience enjoyable enough for volunteers that they’ll be eager to help out next year? Read on for some tips that will help you have success with recital volunteers this spring and beyond.
Who Makes the Best Event Volunteers?
Your first instinct might be to ask parents to work as volunteers at the recital. However, this approach can ultimately make the volunteer recruitment process more difficult for you. Parents already spend a large amount of money and time sending their students to your studio, noted studio owner Kathy Blake for DanceTeacher magazine, so it’s important to shift your idea of how parents can lend a hand.
The magazine suggested that you instead ask parents to be “parent helpers,” instead of traditional volunteers. Ask parents to help out with duties that involve helping get the kids ready for the show, since the fact that they get to watch their own children dance from the best seats in the house can be a big incentive for volunteering their time. Great jobs for parents include escorting the dancers to and from the stage or helping out with makeup and costumes.
For the rest of the volunteers that you’ll need, check in with community service organizers at local schools and community groups. Alumni of your dance studio also make great volunteers, since they already know the ins and outs of putting on a recital and are usually eager to return to the studio and see some friendly faces.
For all types of volunteers, the best recruitment approach is to spread the word that you need volunteers through multiple channels. Create an online form that parents and other individuals can fill out that includes what tasks they would be interested in doing, what hours they would be available and their contact information. Link to this form on your studio’s website, and send it to parents, alumni and other people who you think may be interested via email.
Also, be sure to take advantage of social media to spread the word that you are looking for volunteers for the upcoming recital. Create posts about how you’re looking for volunteers and encourage your followers to share them, recommended VolunteerSpot. And, as the recital approaches, make sure you send out reminders via email or even mobile to volunteers about their commitments.
Emphasize the Benefits
Recital season is incredibly stressful, but don’t forget that parents, friends and alumni are all dealing with their own busy lives. To successfully recruit – and retain – volunteers, it’s important to keep a positive, upbeat attitude. It makes the experience better for everyone! Begging for volunteers or saying negative statements like volunteering “isn’t really that bad” or that “it’s hard to get help” sends out bad vibes and may turn off some individuals from helping out, noted PTO Today.
Instead, make sure you emphasize the benefits of volunteering to help with the recital, like the fact that parents can have a larger role in the action and can watch their kids and that you’re all working together to help the hard-working dancers shine in the spotlight.
Recognize Your Event Volunteers
In addition to highlighting the positive aspects of volunteering, providing perks for helping out goes a long way. Blake suggested that studio owners give volunteers a small gift like a 10 percent discount off purchases in the dance shop or a free ticket to the recital. You could also offer discounts on photos or flowers, or gift cards to local restaurants, cafes or day spas. During the recital, make sure you have snacks, water and coffee available for volunteers and check in with them throughout the event.
And above all, make sure you thank them. Your event volunteers are doing you a huge favor by helping run your recital, so make sure you acknowledge that you appreciate their time and effort. After your dancers are done performing, you could call up the volunteers onto the stage to thank them, or consider sending out handwritten thank you cards as soon as possible after the event.
Taking the time to thank volunteers reinforces strong relationships and makes them feel more inclined to help out again at next year’s recital and other studio events.
Looking back, I feel like I have had three different lives as a studio owner:
Studio owner before kids.
Studio owner with young kids.
Studio owner with kids in other activities.
Before I had children, my studio centered on the needs of the classes. Whatever worked best for the classes took first place. If we needed an extra rehearsal and the only time to do it was 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night, by golly, we got it done.
Then I had my first of five kids and my focus became survival. Whatever it took to survive, that’s what I did. Classes with coffee? Yes. Email at 2 a.m.? I was up anyway. It was all about just keeping things going.
Then my children became involved in their own activities and I got a new perspective on the studio—that of the parent who wanted to do everything they could to support their child, but didn’t know how. I was the soccer parent who didn’t know about the goalie camp. I was the snowboard mom who didn’t buy the right equipment. And, worse of all, I was the dance team mom who was late to a performance because I didn’t know the arrival protocol.
Once I became an “activity mom,” I vowed to make it easier for our studio parents to understand dance training, progress and policy by offering parent-teacher conferences. These annual one-on-one meetings for dancers in our Graded Technique program (4th grade and up) have become a huge hit.
Want to know more about the wonders parent teacher conference for dancers have had for students, parents and teachers alike?
Keep reading for 5 Ways Parent-Teacher Conferences Changed My Studio.
As a studio owner, you probably feel as if you are constantly bombarded by questions from
parents. The questions can come at you from all directions: email, Facebook, text, the studio
hallway and the grocery store aisle. Having a published time where parents can meet with
teachers face-to-face will eliminate much messaging and worry on the part of parents. Most
parents are truly just eager to do the right thing and help their children as much as they can.
Parent-teacher conferences gives them a structured platform to do it.
Nothing is more mysterious to parents (and even some students) than how progress is made
in dance. “When will I be ready for pointe shoes?” “What do I need to do to get from Ballet 2
to Ballet 3?” “Why didn’t I make company?” What is obvious to you as a lifetime participant in
dance may not be so obvious to a first-time dance parent. Nothing creates more clarity than
Another beautiful side effect of the parent teacher conferences has been appreciation. The
appreciation we have seen grow out of these meetings is a two way street. Families usually
walk away with a greater appreciation for the teacher’s knowledge base and studio policy
and a better understanding of where the student is in his or her development. On the other
hand, the teacher gains a better understanding of the motivations and goals of the family.
We strongly encourage students to attend conferences (in their dance clothes) with their
parents. Having the students in attendance allows teachers to demonstrate key corrections,
such as placement or turn out, right in front of the parent. It’s also a time to discuss any
problem areas that may be cropping up such as attendance or attitude. Parents are much
more likely to help hold students accountable if they know specifically what they need to be
Parent-teacher conferences are a big deal. Families look forward to them for weeks advance
and make their plans around attending. Yes, I pay all of our teachers to attend for hours on
end, but the sense of community and commitment between the family and studio that comes
out of the event is priceless.
Nothing says you value someone like spending uninterrupted time talking to them. Parent-teacher
conferences are one of the best investments I make each year. Give it a try before your dance
season is over.
Misty Lown is the founder, president and energized
As a dance mom, you’re constantly running around with your dancers making sure they get to practice, are prepared for recitals and have all of the essentials they need to be at their best. In short, it can be exhausting and take up a lot of your time. It can also take up a lot of your money. Between studio fees, the cost of transportation and costume prices, things can add up quickly, and you might not have the money to spend on all these items. So what are dance moms to do? Budget, of course! Consider these five money-saving tips if you’re on a tight budget.
1. Lay out the Costs
The first thing you need to do as a dance mom is determine the cost of each necessary expense. For instance, you might want to lay out the monthly cost of studio tuition, as well as the average costs of shoes, costumes and hair and makeup products. Creating a monthly budget will help keep you on track in the long run and allow you to determine whether certain costs are worth it or need to be cut from the budget. Factor in other bills that you might have, including daily living and housing costs.
You don’t want to be short on your mortgage payment because you splurged somewhere else. Over time, you’ll become mindful of where you should and shouldn’t be spending money, helping you save money as you avoid spending on unnecessary items. With a firm budget in place, you might notice you’ll have money left over each month that can be added to your savings account.
2. Pay Yourself
At the end of the day, it’s important to pay yourself too, according to Dance Moms’ mom Melissa Gisoni. She noted in one money-saving video the importance of saving up when you first are given your paycheck. Her move? Envelopes.
Gisoni will stow away any extra money in envelopes, and then will hide them to avoid spending the money elsewhere. Eventually, the money will add up and can be used toward any extra expenses, such as a last-minute costume or a new pair of dance shoes. This is a good way to force yourself to save money, as you will not think – or see – the extra money you might have, preventing you from spending it.
3. Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Your First Option
When shopping for dance, it’s important to not settle for the first item you find. This is especially crucial if you have to buy more expensive costumes through your studio. Look online and compare prices for dance shoes, leotards and other items you might need. Use websites such as RetailMeNot, which gives you the latest coupons and savings on websites.
If you’re really on a tight budget, consider getting gently used dance items from a local dance store, a consignment shop, dance community groups, Craigslist or EBay. You’d be surprised by the quality items you can find through these secondhand retailers. This way, you’ll save money by finding affordable, budget-friendly costumes that prevent you from spending money you might not have.
4. Pay up Front
Your budget may vary from month to month, especially when the holidays and recital week come around. If this is the case, it may be smarter to pay up front, especially when it comes to big payments such as monthly studio membership dues. Find out what financial plans are offered through the studio, and whether they would let you pay the full value up front.
Many dance studios will actually offer parents a discount if they choose to pay in advance. That way, each month is taken care of without you having to worry about late bills or trying to find the means to pay. Of course, make sure you have the means to cover this payment before going through with it.
5. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can also help you save a lot of money on dance costs. For instance, if you know your dancer will need new shoes within a few months and you have a little extra money now, buy them and wait to give them to him or her down the road. The same goes for buying other items out of season, which can really help you cut costs as these items might be discounted or more affordable. Anticipating costs down the road can help you plan and make the right decisions now.
When many people think of dance, they think of the beauty of its motion, its grace and its uniformity. Those qualities, though beautiful, are ephemeral. If you’re a photographer, or simply a parent who’s taken an interest in dance photography, you want to capture the fleeting magic of dance in your photos. Consider these four suggestions on how to do it.
“Photographers need to understand this movement and how to capture it.”
1. Understand Movement
During all performances, whether dancers are beginners or advanced, they’re going to be on the move. For dance photography, you need to understand this movement and how to capture it without ending up with a bunch of blurry photos.
The main way to capture this movement correctly is by focusing the camera. During dance performances, some photographers will use auto focus instead of manual focus, which can take too long and cause you to lose desirable shots. If your camera has the capability, use continuous auto focus so it will stay focused while you move around to capture different angles.
Having a fast lens with a high frame rate is also beneficial. This way, you can continually shoot without having to refocus every single time, and you’ll get more frames out of it. This technique gives you a better chance of capturing that one breathtaking photo. Lastly, consider getting a monopod or tripod, as this equipment can help steady your shot as you move.
2. Get to Know Lighting
Lighting is a critical part of dance photography. However, during dance performances, capturing the right lighting is hard. Many performances will take place in low lighting in dark rooms. Sometimes the lighting will be colored to help set the scene for a performance. As a photographer, this can throw off your images if you don’t know how to handle this dark and colored lighting.
Many theaters and venues also will not allow any flash to go off during the performance, meaning you need to get creative if you’re looking to create the right photo. Moreover, if you are taking pictures at a live event, you must respect the event’s photo policies, as well as the viewing experience of other attendees.
First, photographers need to determine the color temperature of the stage. Every type of artificial lighting has a color. For instance, most household lighting is orange, and fluorescent lights are green. Once you’re familiar with reading color temperature, you can easily figure out how to get your best photo.
Go into your white balance settings in your camera and adjust your color temperature which is usually set off by numbers. The lower numbers are for orange and red light, the high numbers are for white and blue lights. If you’re attempting to take photos during a performance with colored light, turn your saturation down as far as it will go. Otherwise, your photos will be oversaturated, which can affect the shape of your figures.
3. Look at Your Setting
Before you start shooting, look at the setting your pictures will be taken in. Are you capturing photos of a single dancer with a backdrop, or are you capturing one dancer with others in the background? Looking at your background and foreground before you start shooting, and planning your shots, will allow you to take the best photos possible.
If you’re taking photos of a solo performance, try to get decorations and other items within the frame to make the photo more captivating and interesting. You can shoot past dancers in the front of the photo or capture the dancers in the front and avoid those in the back.
4. Move With Your Shot
In order to capture the most captivating shots, you may need to move with your subject. Move around to capture different angles and lighting with your dancers. Moving around can be helpful in dance photography whether you are taking photos of one dancer or of a whole group. Even if you decide to stay to the left or right of the stage, changing angles and distance can give you a more dynamic set of photos.
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.
Almost every dance studio owner has dealt with some problem parents at one point or another. Sometimes you might not see them coming, other times you can tell they’ll be difficult from a mile away. However it occurs, one bad apple tends to spoil the rest. You don’t want to let one parent turn all of the other parents against you, or encourage them to engage in the drama. So what is a dance studio owner to do? Consider these four tips on how to deal with troublesome dance parents and how to avoid welcoming them back for another year.
1. Have Legitimate Reasons
It is important for dance studio owners to have a contract that lays out the studio policies as well as the consequences for breaking those rules. All parents, and children if they’re of age, should sign this contract before enrolling. If a parent violates one of these rules, studio owners should document the incident and notify the parent.* Refer to your list of studio policies that the parent agreed to upon enrolling in your studio.
Most studio rules don’t welcome aggressive or negative behavior, regardless of whether it comes from the student or parent. It’s also important not to bring other dance parents into the mix. While they may agree with you, you don’t want to start drama between dance parents. However, it is OK to corroborate your opinion with other studio staff members to help support your stance.
2. Deal With Problems in a Timely Manner
Sometimes parents will cause a scene during the dance year, forget about it over the following summer, and assume they can come back and have a fresh start. However, you and other parents may not have forgotten about that incident. While you might be surprised by their attempts at re-entry, it does happen.
If studio owners don’t handle bad behavior right away, it could have unexpected consequences—other parents may be dismayed that a parent got away with poor behavior and choose to leave the studio. When these scenarios occur, it is vitally important to deal with them in a timely fashion.
3. Offer Feedback Forms
Some dance studios offer feedback forms, according to DanceAdvantage.net. These forms give parents the opportunity to mention any comments, good or bad, that they have about the studio. Sure, the commentary may not always be constructive, especially if they bring up something like a costume malfunction, but these forms can also help keep the peace and prevent gossip from stirring up.
Once these forms are submitted, dance owners and parents can sit down to discuss the issues at hand. Setting up a meeting can be a calm, constructive way to find a resolution for a problem. Sometimes, though, resolutions cannot be found. At this point, you’re allowed to note that it’s studio policy and can calmly suggest that they find another studio to go to. Even though it isn’t the best way to refuse a parent back, you can do so knowing that you tried your best to hear the parent’s point of view.
4. Note Issues With Tardiness and Payments
Tardiness shouldn’t be welcomed at practice or any other time, as it can quickly become a habit. Dancers who show up late may throw off routines, cause practices to go later or could compromise a dance recital.
As a studio owner, it’s important to discuss your rules about tardiness with parents. Note the issues that arise from tardiness, and its effects on other dancers and parents. The same goes for payments. To keep your business up and running, you need to charge parents for their children’s lessons. Whether you charge them weekly, monthly or bi-annually is up to you.
However, if a parent doesn’t pay, it can quickly become an issue. If a parent consistently forgets or owes the studio a significant amount of money, it’s acceptable to terminate his or her contract. Discuss with the parent how lack of payment affects the studio as well as the purchase of costumes, footwear and equipment. Hopefully the parent will understand these legitimate reasons for not being welcomed back.
*Reader and veteran studio owner Danie Beck also suggested that in some cases, after you’ve spoken with the parent it may be a good idea to put the dismissal and the reasoning behind it in writing and send it to the parent. If you do, she noted that you should be sure to send it to them “return receipt requested,” so everyone is on the same page and there won’t be any surprises at registration time.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include reader feedback.
You may think that you know what you’re getting into when you decide to open a dance studio. After all, you’ve likely been involved in the industry for a good part of your life. However, there are definitely some tough lessons you’ll learn when you enter the business side of the dance world. Here are 8 things you’ll come to understand throughout your time as a dance studio owner.
1. ‘No’ is a powerful and necessary word
As a new business owner, you’ll likely want to say yes to everything. It’s hard to tell people no, especially when you are just starting to build relationships with your customers. However, make sure you balance the needs of your students and parents with the needs of the studio. It’s a delicate scale, and you’ll occasionally have to use “no” to keep the balance in check.
2. You need an written, actionable plan
You probably have goals, plans and aspirations for your studio, and that’s great! But you should really be putting them in writing, otherwise they’re easy to forget or lose sight of. This is where an actionable business plan comes in handy – write a detailed roadmap before you open your studio and make sure to update it every year.
3. Your dance know-how isn’t enough
Your pirouettes and plies will come in handy when you’re teaching young dancers, but they’re not going to help you much when it comes time to pay taxes, send invoices or market your studio. Small business owners of all sorts need to have some business-savvy if they’re going to excel, so you may need to purchase a how-to book or sign up for a seminar to fill out your skill set.
4. Customer service isn’t a cakewalk
No two mama dramas are alike, and you’ll be faced with a host of problems throughout your time as a studio owner. It’s important to figure out how you’ll deal with problem parents, diva students and other issues that affect the atmosphere at your school. Your customer service can make or break your studio, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves.
5. Your support system is key
Because you’re serving as a teacher, marketer, book keeper, administrator and more, there will be days when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. This is when you need your support system more than ever. Whether it’s your spouse, friend, partner, child or fellow teacher, you should have someone who’s there to lend a hand on your toughest days. If you go at it alone, chances are that you’ll wind up with more gray hair than you bargained for.
6. Not everyone will like you
It’s human nature to want people to like you, but very few business owners go through their careers without stepping on a few toes. Sometimes you’ll have to say “no” – as mentioned in No. 1 – and this can lead to upset parents, dejected dancers or disgruntled teachers. Do your best to mend the relationship when this happens, and continue on your way.
7. At the end of the day, you’re running a business
The reality of the business world is that only 50 percent of companies survive for five years and just 30 percent last 10 years or more. If you’re in this for the long haul, you need to keep in mind that you’re running a business! Each decision you make should be beneficial to the studio if you want to make it in the competitive world of dance.
8. The hard work is worth it
You know the happiness that fills you up when you do something you love? Well you’ll probably get to feel that way every day you’re in the studio. Teaching people to dance is amazingly rewarding, and you’ll find that even on your longest days, you have a smile on your face.
It’s official. The Worst Dance Mom Awards are out and the winner is (insert drumroll)…me.
Shocked? Don’t be. Many dance studio owners and teachers have a unique ability to organize the competition and recital experiences of hundreds of children while seemingly forgetting about their own offspring.
I think it must be a strange survival mechanism hardwired into the DNA of studio owners and teachers: “Take care of the students, take care of the students or they might not re-enroll for fall classes! Your family may live like a pack wild wolves for a couple of weeks, but they will survive!”
Hmmmm…does this sounds familiar to you? Keep reading for seven signs that you, too, are in the running for Worst Dance Mom of the Year.
The Biggest Expense – Producing a profitable program starts well before the show begins. When I ask studio owners what their biggest recital expense is, they will inevitably say “theater rental.” WRONG. Your biggest expense (and easiest expense to control) is most likely costume purchases. Control expenses by working with one trusted vendor. I moved 98% of my costume order to Curtain Call this year. By working with one costume house, I earned better volume discounts, consistent ships dates and a dedicated Customer Relationship Manager—which saved me time and costly returns.
Tickets – When was the last time you went to the movies for free? Oh, you didn’t? That’s because they’re not free and neither is renting a theater and putting on a recital.☺ Calculate your appropriate ticket price point by taking time to truly count the cost of all expenses associated with show production including, but not limited to, facility rental, dressing room rental, rehearsal space rental, lighting design, microphones, headsets, tech crew, sound crew, housemen, ushers, music editing, props, faculty time and insurance.
Keepsake Program Books – Part 1 – Are you producing a high quality recital program book? If not, you are missing out on a chance to not only elevate the professionalism of your show, but also to create an additional stream of revenue before the dry summer months hit. The first year I produced a Keepsake Program Book, I called the show “My Hometown.” We dedicated the dances to local businesses and then used the dedication as a reason to ask them to place a congratulatory ad for the dancers. We sold a little over 30 ads the first year and now sell 80-90 ads on a yearly basis
Keepsake Program Books – Part 2 – Businesses aren’t the only ones interested in placing ads in the program book. Take advantage of your professional publication to encourage families to celebrate the accomplishments of their dancers and graduating seniors by placing “Brava!” ads.
Commemorative Merchandise – The possibilities for commemorative merchandise are endless. We partner with a local florist to provide flowers. Our biggest seller is a branded recital t-shirt complete with every dancer’s name on the back. The students bring sharpies and sign each other’s shirts after the show. Many of our More Than Just Great DancingTM affiliate studios offer an even broader assortment of commemorative items at their shows including recital bears, bondi bands, sweatshirts, picture frames, bracelets, charms, water bottles, parent gear and more.
Memory Makers – Dance is the only art that disappears as soon as you create it. Make the celebration last by providing quality photography and videography opportunities for your families. Partner with local vendors to trade services or profit share. Or, take it a step further by investing in the equipment and training to provide the service yourself.
Most Importantly… Most importantly, a professional, positive recital experience for families is your best promotion for summer and fall enrollment—the lifeblood of your business. The time, energy and planning you put into your show will pay you dividends for months to come.
Grab your hair spray and arsenal of brushes because it’s that time of year again. With recitals looming, studio owners will be dictating recital hairstyles, and parents everywhere will be scrambling to smooth out their children’s locks. Whether you’re a dance teacher putting finishing touches on your student’s updos or a parent struggling to tame a curly mane, use these tricks to get perfect dance performance hair every time.
For short hair
Dancers with shoulder-length tresses often struggle to get their hair up into ballet buns. There’s always the option to use a fake bun and cover, but there are also ways that short hair can be pulled back into a professional style. The YouTube tutorial below shows how dancers with short hair can slick their locks back with a pomade, then twist any remaining ends into cute little spirals. This trick calls for plenty of bobby pins to hold the hair in place, but it’s a great option for ballerinas who don’t want to go the fake-bun route.
For unruly hair
Dancers with curly, thick or coarse hair may have trouble coercing their hair into desired performance styles. To say it’s challenging to get some hair types into a smooth updo is an understatement. Some dancers use chemical relaxants to get their hair to cooperate, but Dance magazine explained that this will only damage the strands. Instead, students should try using a moisturizer on their hair once a week. On the day of the performance, spray a heat protector onto your hair, then carefully blow dry it, working with a small section at a time and elongating the locks as much as possible while you’re working. Once your hair is dry, use a flat iron to further flatten your locks. With the help of a strong hair wax or balm and a fine-tooth comb, you should now be able to pull your tresses back into a smooth updo.
For the perfect bun
It can be tricky to make a perfectly neat, stable bun, but dance veterans have a few tried and true tricks. Before you begin, you’ll need hair rubberbands/elastics, plenty of bobby pins, hairspray and/or gel, a brush/comb, hairnet, and for this example, a bun “donut” (see example here). Our client Elite Dance Force recommends the following steps in their excellent tutorial:
Starting with wet or gelled hair.
Pulling hair into a high ponytail.
Pull the ponytail through the bun “donut.”
Smooth hair around bun maker.
Add a rubberband around base of bun.
Part hair on right and left of bun. Apply more gel.
Twist one side of hair.
Wrap around bun, gel and bobby pin it.
Repeat on other side.
Wrap hairnet around bun.
Apply any head piece for your dancer’s costume.
For a tutorial that does not use a bun “donut,” check out the video below.
Some cute costumes call for complementary hair accessories, but these are especially prone to falling out while the performers are twirling and leaping. If you’re wearing a headpiece, decorative flower, bow, extensions or fake ponytail, there are a few tricks you can use to ensure the piece stays in place. The most well-known trick is to simply put as many bobby pins as humanly possible onto the accessory. Try to place the pins so they’re crossing each other, as this will create a better hold. Dance parents on the DanceMom forum recommended going all out with 25 or more bobby pins! Another expert tip is to attach some horsehair braid ribbon onto the accessory with hot glue. This will give bobby pins a surface to grip and help the piece to stay put.
If you’ve ever been a dancer yourself, you probably know how much it can hurt when a parent or teacher is yanking your hair, trying to get it just right. Keep this in mind as you help your students prepare for their performances! Dance Advantage explained that a comfortable dancer is a happy dancer, so being as gentle as possible during prep can go a long way. Here are a few tips to ensure that students don’t leave the hairdressing station with tender scalps.
Avoid hair ties with metal clasps, which can easily get tangled or poke into the skull.
Let students brush their own hair to get rid of any initial knots and tangles.
Pay attention to the body language of the dancer – they might not tell you when you’re pulling too hard!
Ask the performer if her ponytail feels comfortable or is too tight.
Let dancers wipe any excess hair spray or gel off their skin with a baby wipe, which can otherwise become itchy and dry as the day goes on.
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.
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.
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.
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!