Ah, spring time. The pollen is floating on the breeze, the end of the school year is approaching, and…dance recital season is upon us! Any parent who has a dancer knows that the recital is an eagerly anticipated, memorable, and special occasion for family members and dancers. It’s the culmination of a year of hard work, carpools, and tuition all bundled up into one triumphant day. It also can be a super stressful time trying to help your dancer pack all the right costume pieces, hair accessories, snacks, and shoes. As a lifelong dancer and now a dance teacher/dance mom, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help keep dance recital day magical and hopefully not stressful.
Pack ahead of time
It is stressful trying to remember to pack everything on the day of or night before. So instead, once you get your costume from your dance studio, start making a dance recital bag that you can add to as you think of what you need. Our costumes come in their own bags, so I take them out about a week ahead of time and hang them upside down to let the tutus un-wrinkle while also checking that each costume has the correct tights and hair pieces. I also start compiling a list of all the extras I’ll need like extra bobby pins for a hat or a hairnet for unruly hair that must be in a bun. Start early and don’t forget the hairspray!
Take a marker and put initials on the insides of shoes, or on a label or any tag you can find. And label every item you bring. Every shoe, costume, pair of tights, laundry basket (if you have older kids you know that most of the time they carry everything in one of these), hairbrush, or anything else you want to return home and stay yours.
Add extra time
Whatever time frame you’re given, add a little extra on all ends to be sure you’re not rushing. If you need to be there 20 minutes before the show, try for 30 just in case. If you are planning for the show to end at 10:30, plan for 10:40 just in case.
Do as much as you can at home
As you plan out your recital experience, ask yourself what you can do to have your dancer prepared in advance. Showing up to your venue as show ready as possible will allow you to anticipate snafus before it’s too late to fix them. Need more bobby pins? The whole pack is at home! Tights too small? Grab another pair from the office ladies as you’re arriving. You won’t have to deal with the awkward “getting ready in the bathroom” and you can leave a lot of your supplies at home. The only caveat I would say is this: your dancer should wear street shoes and bring dance shoes to the venue. Once you arrive, keep the street shoes, and all other personal belongings with you instead of your dancer. Never send dancers backstage with valuables.
Send costume-friendly snacks
Rule No. 1: never eat in costume. Rule No. 2: if your dancer must eat in costume, make sure it’s after your dancer has performed or that it’s a costume-friendly snack. Sorry Cheetos, you have to stay home this time. Goldfish are a great option! Something that won’t stain, is easy on a nervous tummy, and if it spills won’t ruin the outfit.
Keep your camera ready
You’ll only have this one precious day so charge those phones, get the video camera ready, and smile! Document those little smiles and adorable tutus because your sweet dancer will grow out of it in the blink of an eye.