Backstage at a dance competition is a remarkable world of high pace energy, organizational challenges and it is easy to burn out. Learning about the world of dance competitions is more complicated than many know.
“where are the pins”? “Oh my gosh - hairspray - I know I packed it”. “shoes - I have two left feet”! What a bunch of poopie. If your organization skills for competition sound like the above comments above, you probably are a procrastinator. I hate to admit it, but I’m a procrastinator too. I’ll pack the day before the event, and/or scramble the day of to get everything in the car. I didn’t realize how much of the organization went into getting ready for competition until I had kids of my own. I think there is a progression that parents go through in working with their dancers. They come in as newbies, and gradually progress to diva managers. If you fall into the procrastinator category, you are far from alone. Even the best diva managers fail sometimes.
I think there is a progression that parents go through in working with their dancers. They come in as newbies, and gradually progress to diva managers.
At competitions, many times we have found our dressing rooms halfway across the school or auditorium. Your parents who are often caught in the middle in the stands often are clueless where to put the dance bags. There aren’t any signs in front of the buildings that point to where you need to go, that is where you need gofers or scouts to be in the facility before your team starts to arrive - just to locate all the doors, corridors and stair ways. They can wait at the gates when your team arrives and help them to get to their dressing and stage areas. Parents are fine to use as gofers, but a couple older teens who don’t have youngsters to prepare for the stage, work better. You have to realize that your director and many instructors may not be there right when you get there. In some cases it is because they are at the director meetings getting the 911 on the competition proceedings. Make sure your gofer or scouts are trustworthy and that their cell phones are on for you to contact them. They shouldn't be text queens chatting with their friends and neglecting their duties.
If you have to be in a meeting before completion, make sure you have an assistant teacher to warm up your students and to check their costumes. It’s okay to delegate to your assistants who have worked with you and your team. Uninformed people in the dressing rooms are a studio nightmare. They will and can give out a lot of false information. Maybe not knowingly give out bad information, but false none-the-less. Tempers can flare at the drop of a hat back stage. I always find that the student is generally more calm than the parent, 9 times out of 10.
Parents, your kids need the input from their instructors right before going on. They know the dance best, they understand the choreography, and their students trust them. You should too.
Some common sense no - no's:
1. Don’t be in the dressing rooms in front of your dancers talking drama right before a competition.
2. Don’t attempt to make minor changes for an instructor, that includes costumes changes. You can discuss changes afterward before the next competition. That is acceptable to ask - 100% It also allows your instructors / director the opportunity to state why something is the way it is.
3. If you constantly are wishy washy at competitions, or whining about everything, especially in the dressing rooms - it stresses everyone out. We call these types “dressing room trolls”. You are allowed to be one at least once in your dancers career.
...whining about everything, especially in the dressing rooms - it stresses everyone out
The little bitty dancers may need a parent or two around if Instructors don’t have assistants. The little ones need to be watched and a system developed to help them get from point A to point B as easy as possible. Have them hold hands when they enter the warm up room. Once they are in there, make sure you get them to a huddle as fast as you can. Warm up rooms are confusing to little ones. There are generally many other teams in the warm up rooms that take up a lot of spacing. Your little ones might not understand why they have to bunch their lines together to practice. Talk to them about warm up rooms before they get to competitions.
Older dancer DO NOT need their parents in the room, unless that parent was asked to be there. The most important thing for dancers to be doing is to stretch out, be looking over their lines, and nailing those turns and combo sections.
Parents your dancers need to be looking at the instructor before going on. Don’t become a “warm up troll”. Find your seat and make sure that your cheering voice can be heard when they perform. Remember, warm ups for older students should be a closed session. There is already enough distractions in the room to keep them busy for a long time. Besides, some students don’t react well to other parents in the room. Parents, this is your curtain call “all parents to the stands”.
Parents, this is your curtain call “all parents to the stands”
UGH!.. I can’t stress enough that you need to have at least 4 copies of all your music. Why? One to give to your assistant in case you don’t make it, two for your travel bag, and one to give to your top gofer. I actually helped another team one year cut their music at a competition. I happened to have purchased the song they were using the year before and it was still on my computer. As well, I had the music programs already installed on my computer to cut and edit it for them. They won! They weren't a competing team against us, so it was fair game. Nowadays a cell phone or an IPad work great for putting your music on too.
Don’t let your students over run your common sense when it comes to music.
- It’s not a team decision - it’s more about what is appropriate.
- Also, can it be cut and edited to fit your teams needs.
- Just because a song is popular doesn’t mean it is the right song for your team or solo performer.
Truthfully, if the song is too popular you may be in for a shock when you get to competition. There are lists of the most overly used songs on the internet atwww.dancenet.com . Not all songs have that over use attachment, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful on your selections.
I was fortunate enough to have a daughter who worked behind the screens during a lot of award ceremonies. She set up everything for awards including all the trophies, did lane running, ran score sheets to the tally room, sweep floors for acts, to crowning the dance champions.
If you are a dance champion and are asked to help with awards, be sure you understand that it could be very late before you are allowed to go home. It isn't uncommon for awards to end at midnight. Timing for awards isn’t an exact science. You should have your team there early for awards, and they should sit together either in the stands , stage, or gym floor. Just because they say awards at 7:00 p.m., that doesn’t mean they won’t start them earlier. If all the scores are tallied, and the competition staff is ready, they can call the awards early.
It is nice to get away from competition to go somewhere to eat, but you need to make sure you are in contact with your instructor/director in case the event planners call an early awards ceremony. Don’t drive 30 miles away for food either. Pack some healthy food in the car; come prepared.
I understand that little girls get tired, and that a late awards ceremony is often hard on them. But this is what you have spent your hard earned dollars on. All the sweat and tears are for that moment. Your team needs you there. You are a team all the way from dancing on the floor to the awards ceremony.
The day after
It is important to have down time with your dancer, and to help him or her to let go of competition. Let the activities of the events wash over them - win or lose. Everyone needs down time to recoup, relax, and not have to be on task. Hopefully you have something planned that is fun for your dancer and family members who also attend the competitions. A motel with a pool is a great way for the family to let down. Those who have to travel all day and night may not have that luxury - but hopefully you will plan down time once you get home. Spend time with your dancer doing things that aren’t dance related. Even if it is just a movie and popcorn.
Even dancers who win can have a low period after a competition. They have been working at a high pace with their performances, and now all of a sudden it's over. I’ve seen solo winners not return to competition because they didn’t adjust to the low time well. They weren’t able to come back up to the level of performance that helped them win.
Losing doesn’t have to be bad either. The best perspective is one that helps a dancer learn to compete against themselves. What others are doing really isn’t of their concern, as much as knowing that they have made progressed in their own studies. So winning isn’t everything, sometimes it is the end for some dancers.
Well rounded dancers need other outlets to focus on. If all they do is focus on dance day in and day out, they might not be maturing emotionally and socially as they need too. They can carry those negative traits into adulthood. As kids get older and adjust to different stresses, they will pick the activities that they desire to be in. Having 2 or 3 activities outside of dance is normal. Play ball, piano, swim, run - whatever.
Enjoy your time in the spotlight “Be a Star”!