A Parent’s Guide To Your First Dance Competition

What’s one thing most dancers have in common before stepping onto the stage for their first dance competition? They all need that ‘special someone’ to help calm their nerves. 

Dance competition season is here. Whether you’re a parent, friend or supportive teacher, you’ve watched your dancer practice and prepare for this very moment. You know how ready they are to put on that rhinestone costume and step onto the stage. But you may not know how to help calm any nerves that surface leading up to the whole experience. 

It’s no surprise that amid the excitement and anticipation hides some genuine stress for dancers at their first competition and their parents alike. Competitions can be fun, and they are a great reward for endless hours of practice. Yet, they can also be a great source of anxiety unless you follow these first dance competition tips. 

Knowing what to expect, how to prepare ahead of time, and what to do the night before the dance competition can make things go smoothly and stress-free. 

What To Expect 

As a parent at your first dance competition, it’s important to know exactly what you should do to help things run smoothly for your dancer. Don’t worry, the pressure isn’t all on you here. 

Just because it’s your first competition doesn’t mean it’s your studio’s first dance competition. Leading up to this day, your studio should have informed you of important details like: 

  • Routine numbers,
  • The order of dances for those students performing in more than one piece,
  • What warmup and shoes to wear, 
  • What dressing room your studio is assigned, 
  • And my all time favorite, no gum while in your costume! 

Could you studio’s communication strategy use a little help? Take a complimentary product tour to discover how Jackrabbit Dance studio software can help your studio share important information with parents, whether it be about competitions, registration, picture week or anywhere in between.

From production routines practicing in the lobby to vendors and everything in between, there will likely be distractions for you and your dancer. Your number one job going into competition day is to remember the important details the studio has shared with you so that you’re not second guessing yourself in front of your dancer.

How To Prepare

  1. Weeks before

Well in advance of the first competition date, make sure you allow space on the calendar for extra practices. You can never rule out little Suzie Smith getting hurt and having to rework the whole routine with one less dancer. Ensuring that you are available to drive your child back and forth to the studio is crucial if an urgent need arises.

It’s a blessing and a curse that not all competition venues are local to your studio. When first time dance competitions are out of town, put in the leg work to check out the venue and available parking before you hit the road.

Perhaps one of the best dance competition tips out there is to make a checklist of everything you will need on that day. And just like old Chris Cringle, you better check that thing twice! 

Costume, spatz, bobby pins, back-up bobby pins, hairspray, tights, back-up tights, sewing kit, elastic, and more make out a well-rounded competition bag checklist. Pro tip: If you have an independent child who wants to make their own checklist and pack their own bag, go behind them. 

  1. Night Before

On the night before the dance competition, make sure you spend some quality time with your tiny (or grown up) dancer. Do something fun with your child to take away their mind from the competition. Perhaps watch a family movie or hit up the hotel pool if you’re on the road. Most importantly, tell your children how proud you are of them no matter what the outcome of the competition is. 

After some fun or relaxation, make sure that your child has a healthy meal the night before their first dance competition. Dinner should be light, and nutritionists suggest that dancers need to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates along with lean protein the night before their performance. 

After dinner, settle in for a full night’s sleep – a big day is coming up for all of you!

  1. On The Day Of The Dance Competition 

Make sure that you arrive early at the competition venue. First dance competitions can be quite hectic, so be prepared to embrace the high energy! It’s easier said than done, but try to adopt a more nonchalant attitude and avoid the drama. Your child can pick up on your subtle emotional cues, and your stress will roll over to them. So keep it cool and remember that you’re both here to do exactly what you’ve prepared for! 

Walk with your dancer to the dressing room that has been assigned to your studio. Set up your dressing area by arranging your costumes, shoes and accessories in the order you’ll need them throughout the day then meet the rest of your team to warm up. 

When you drop your dancer off to warm up, don’t hover. Let them take in the experience with their fellow dancers. Give them a warm hug and yourself a pat on the shoulder because you made it! 

What are some of your favorite ways to help parents prepare for their child’s first dance competition? Share your tips in the comments below! 

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