It’s your first time at a dance convention – adrenaline is high and you and your dancer are itching to get in the ballroom and see what it’s all about!
An essential part of participating in dance conventions is etiquette, for both dancers and parents.
Proper dance convention etiquette includes respecting all participants, being mindful of the space you’re in, and being prepared for anything!
If you’ve never attended a dance convention before, be prepared for some differences from sporting events or even dance recitals. Find out more information about dance conventions here! The convention world is exciting and fun; with these tips, you and your dancer will be ready to dive right in!
Convention Etiquette For Dancers
Dancers are the ones actively participating in conventions, so these tips apply mainly to dancers! But, parents can help make these things happen by reminding their dancers before each event.
1. DO Bring All Your Dance Shoes!
Dance conventions are a place to soak up all the knowledge that the instructors have to offer! But if you sit out of a class because you forgot your tap shoes, you’re missing out on valuable information!
Create a checklist the night before the convention so you don’t forget any dance shoes and are prepared for every possible style!
2. DON’T Hog the Front and Center Row!
One of the biggest faux pas at dance conventions is when a dancer consistently makes their way to the front and center of the class.
What also ends up happening is that multiple dancers try to do this, leaving huge amounts of dance-able space empty on the sides and in the back of the ballroom.
Dance conventions are meant to be learning experiences for everyone, but if there is a consistent crowd of the same people gravitating to the same space at the front, it becomes unfair.
Change up your location throughout the day and throughout the class – and use up all that great space on the sides!
3. DO Take All of the Classes Offered!
Most dance conventions will offer classes in styles of dance that you’re familiar with – jazz, theatre dance, and contemporary, among others.
But, you may get lucky and attend a convention that offers something unique, like Bollywood or Latin Ballroom.
If you are willing to try something new by taking a class you’ve never experienced before, you will undoubtedly learn and grow from the knowledge you gain.
You might even find that this new style is something you want to pursue further!
If you’re unfamiliar with a style of dance you see on the schedule, check out our helpful guide to dance styles!
4. DON’T Put Your Dance Bag on a Chair!
Most dance convention ballrooms will have chairs lining the walls of the room for observers and dancers to utilize. But oftentimes, there are more people than there are chairs.
When dancers (and observers) place their bags on chairs, it’s considered rude because they’re taking up valuable seating for people.
Place your dance bags and purses under the chair so that there is enough seating to go around. It seems like a small thing, but it makes a big difference!
Find the best dance bag for busy dancers by visiting our dance bag guide!
Convention Etiquette For Parents and Observers
Many parents are used to being able to watch their children participate in their sport or activity of choice.
In the dance convention world, some companies have found it beneficial to not allow observers, stating that the dancers focus better and are less distracted without parents and observers in the room.
If you attend a dance convention that does still allow observers, follow these rules to ensure a productive day for everyone!
1. DO Take Advantage of Any Parent Classes Offered!
Dance conventions are long events, sometimes spanning multiple days or at least an entire day! If you’re looking for something to do to pass the time, consider attending any parent classes that are offered!
Many events offer parent classes on topics such as Q&As with the faculty, dance or fitness classes for parents, or college prep seminars for parents of dancers looking to further their dance careers.
Parent classes are a great way to connect with other people who have similar experiences in the dance world.
2. DON’T Be A Distraction While Observing Class!
If you are attending a convention that still allows observers, practice proper etiquette.
A convention dance class is meant to be a learning experience for the dancers, and learning can only take place without distractions.
Ideally, if you are in the room, you are there to observe.
If for some reason you don’t want to observe but want to stay in the room, keep your phone on silent, don’t have conversations with other parents, and don’t get up and down from your seat more than necessary.
3. DO Lead By Example and Respect Other Dancers and Observers!
Children, as we know, are little sponges and absorb so much of the behaviors they observe from their caregivers.
Dance conventions can be high-stress events, especially ones with competitions and scholarships attached, and sometimes the stress can come out in not-so-kind ways.
Model respectful behavior and language to other dancers and observers. Ballrooms are crowded and loud and there is never enough seating. If someone has taken your seat, let them know nicely and calmly.
If your dancer didn’t get chosen to dance at the showcase, keep your negative feelings to yourself instead of gossiping to your friend.
The better you behave, the more likely it is that your dancer will follow in your footsteps.
4. DON’T Coach Your Child From The Sidelines
Not coaching your child from the sidelines is a part of dance convention etiquette that seems strange to parents of children who participate in other sports. After all, kids need to feel encouraged, right?
Yes, kids need to feel encouraged, but unlike swim team practice or a basketball scrimmage, dance classes are more about learning and growing as dancers than simply making a better time in the backstroke.
The best way to encourage your dancer during a dance convention is not to coach from the sidelines, but to actively observe them in class, and then give them a compliment on something specific that you saw them achieve after class is over.
For more best practices for convention etiquette and conventions in general, check out my podcast, Making the Impact – A Dance Competition Podcast and our episode 10 Tips For Convention Training!
You can also read my article What is a Dance Convention? – The Info You Need To Know for more great info!
Dance conventions are an excellent way to further your dance training, connect with other dancers, and learn from incredible instructors.
But, the experience is only as good as you and the other participants make it.
By practicing proper etiquette at dance conventions, you’re ensuring that everyone has the chance to enjoy themselves and dance their hearts out!