How to Prepare for Your Dance Studio Competition Team Audition?

By Teresa Nelson / Edited by Samantha BelleroseB.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Today many dance studios attend dance competitions either locally, by traveling around their state, or even nationally. To become a competitive dancer, dance teachers and studio owners generally invite hardworking students to audition to become a member of their studio competition team. Many parents and students new to dance are often very honored by the invitation but then have no idea what to expect at the audition or how to prepare their child for the experience.

To prepare for your dance studio competition you should first understand the commitment you and your dancer will need to make to your dance studio if you are successful. Next is making sure know the date and time, dress & hair requirements, who will be taking the audition, practicing, getting rest and eating healthy.

Ballet girl getting hair done into bun by mom in a dance studio

I remember our first year at the dance studio. I had enrolled my daughter in a few dance classes to see if she would like them. I so hoped she would fall in love with all of it and she did! Eventually, she noticed her dance mates participating in more classes and special rehearsals. She noticed special jackets and dance bags and then began asking me… When can I do that? Now that my dancer has been dancing on the competition team for a few years, I can share some things to consider and how to prepare for your dance studio’s competition team tryouts.

What Do I Do First?

If your child is not already registered and taking classes at a dance studio this is your first step. We have a great article on the website that can help you choose your dance school here. Register and select classes such as ballet, jazz, and tap as these are the basic classes required to build the technique and skill necessary to be on a competition dance team. Most studios require at least one year of basic dance training before auditioning for the competition dance team. 

Do I Need to Audition for a Competition Dance Team?

Typically, yes, and here are the reasons. The audition process is an opportunity for dancers pursuing long-term goals such as high school and college dance teams or professional companies to become familiar and comfortable with the process.

At the studio level, it is an opportunity for teachers to evaluate the dancer before a team placement and to decide where each dancer may be placed in team formations and choreography.

What Should I Know Before I Try out for a Competition Team?

It is important to know that being on a competition team requires a serious time and financial commitment. Although it is not always required, most dancers who join a competition dance team will probably also become competitive solo or duo/trio dancers at the same time. This means that in addition to being on the competition team, they will be competing by themselves against others.

Competition TeamCompetitive Dancer (Solos etc)
Team Apparel and GearAdditional classes and training
Additional time for RehearsalsPrivate Lessons- solos, duets, trios, etc…
Performances and TravelPerformance and Travel

Being on a competition team and a competitive dancer is significantly more expensive so be prepared financially. Having a competitive dancer I am well aware of these expenses and have written all about them in my article The Real Costs Of Competitive Dance – A Parent’s Run Down.

What Can I Do to Prepare My Dancer for Tryouts?

Girl stretching in middle splits in her bedroom

You might consider purchasing strengthening and conditioning items that can be used at home. In the weeks leading up to tryouts, it is a good idea to establish a good routine at home. Encourage your dancer to exercise and stretch every day. If it is possible, try to have a dedicated space at home for your dancer to practice.

Eating healthy and getting a good night’s rest keeps your dancer healthy and prepared for the task ahead. 

How Do I Prepare my Dancer for Competition Team Tryouts?

There it is! The email you have been waiting for. The email should include time and place, what to wear, and if there is an audition fee. 

Being prepared for the tryout is so important and this means taking the time to read all the information given to you and asking questions when you are not sure. The last thing you want for your dancer is showing up at the tryout with her hair in a ponytail when the requirement was for a low bun or wearing a bright purple leotard when a basic black leotard was required.

This immediately tells the audition team you did not read emails or chose to not follow policy. This would be a bad first impression for you and your dancer.  As a dance parent, it is your job to make sure your dancer has an amazing first impression and is ready to become a serious dancer. 

What Happens at Dance Team Tryouts?

Our dance studio holds competition team tryouts in mid-January on a Saturday morning and the instructions in the email tell us we will be arriving by age starting at 8:00 am to learn choreography and perform in front of the teaching staff and guest observers.

For a detailed look at what to expect at a dance team tryout check out my article all about that here!

How Can My Dancer Stand Out During a Tryout?

First and foremost, adherence to the audition requirements is a must.  If there are questions, communicate with the studio owner before the audition. However, you may have your dancer add some light makeup, a bow, or a colorful hair tie.

Choosing a well-fitted, comfortable leotard that enhances body lines and compliments the dancer’s figure is a good idea as well. Wearing clean dance shoes and the appropriate color/type of tights is important. Advise your dancer to stay attentive and to not talk or move around during the audition.

If appropriate, take the time to introduce yourself and your dancer to the audition team before the audition and share gratitude for their time afterward.

Are there any Particular Skills my Dancer Should Have?

An audition for a five-year-old will look much different than an audition for a 12 yr. old. A five-year-old should be able to follow directions and pay attention but a 12 yr. old should have mastered some important skills which will be evident at the audition.

Although it is not always required to have all your basic splits down, it will show a level of commitment and willingness to work hard if you do. The same applies to other dance techniques and skills.

Since most dancers are not invited to audition until they have been in dance training for at least a year, this gives the dancer the time and opportunity to work hard at the studio and at home to perfect a skill to showcase at the audition such a beautiful straight leg walkover or a higher-level jump. 

How Involved Will I Need to be as a Dance Parent?

Mother and daughter talking over a laptop

As a competition team dance parent, you will need to be “in the know” on just about everything that goes on at the studio. Competitive dancers have a very busy schedule. Studio owners have a lot of responsibilities, and they cannot manage your schedule for you. You will need to arrange your schedule to get your dancer to the studio for additional rehearsal times and sometimes be given a moment’s notice to do so. 

Being a competitive dance parent is a job.

You become your dancer’s manager, hairdresser and makeup artist, taxi driver, and much more. Your job is to get them where they need to be, on time, and looking amazing! You will need to order all the necessary dancewear and learn how to put your dancer’s hair in a bun as well as how to apply makeup.

There will be more volunteering and fundraising, you may be asked to build a prop, sew and rhinestone costumes. The tasks may seem endless at times every time you see your dancer performing on stage, doing what she loves best will make it all completely worth it!

Is there anything else I should know? 

Yes, being the parent of a competitive competition team dancer will require more active participation and involvement at the dance studio. As time goes by, you will notice that the dance studio, teachers, and dancers become like family and the dance studio becomes a second home to your dancer.

This is an amazing experience. But, in every family, there will be times that test you and your relationships and commitments. Drama and conflict are inevitable. It is how you deal with drama and conflict that’s important. The following are a few resources that might help you out in this area:

How to Effectively Sort Out Problems With Your Child’s Dance Teacher
10 Reasons to Leave a Dance or Ballet Studio
15 Signs of a Bad Dance Teacher You Must Be Aware Of!

Further Reading

You might also be interested in reading more about competitions and we have a huge

selection of articles which you can find here:

About the Author

Teresa Nelson

Teresa is a busy mom of an 11yr old competitive dancer. I also have two older children, Madison and Zachary who are currently attending college. Madison spent many years as a competitive figure skater and my son enjoyed competitive fencing. Over the last 10 yrs., I have experienced an amazing journey in the world of dance and figure skating, learning so much along the way. I look forward to sharing my insight and firsthand experience so that I can help you navigate this often overwhelming but wonderful journey as the parent of a dancer.