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Pack – The Fourth Step to Surviving your kid’s Dance or Ballet recital

By Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Once your child’s dance or ballet recital is finished you will be happy after a long day or afternoon to go home. But…. there is still one job left that needs to be completed and that is packing up and then unpacking everything you prepared to be used again another time when you get home!

Packing after a dance recital will look different for every parent. It will depend on how many items your dancer was in, whether you are taking costumes home or whether they are staying with the studio, how tired your dancer is after the recital, and how late the recital finished for example.

But packing is really important – because if you lose something, you will rarely recover it after a recital!

Whether it be a single tap shoe, or a handmade headpiece make sure everything you brought with you needs to go back home with you.

The Ultimate Guide

Click on any of the images to get to any of the other articles in the Ultimate Guide to getting ready for a dance Recital here!

PACKING ETTIQUETTE WHEN YOU ARE HANDING COSTUMES BACK TO THE STUDIO

For some recitals, such as a mid-season concert, all your costumes may be on loan from the studio (yes that costume fee you paid was for hire not for you to own the costume!) If this is the case, most studios do not want you to take them home, as they never seem to recover them all or all the bits and pieces that go with them.

Therefore it is your responsibility to leave the costume as you found it. Meaning if it was given to you neatly on a hanger with a hairpiece and wristbands in little bags, then you should be returning it the same way.

This should occur whether your child is in one or ten routines.

You should also ensure you reattach your child’s name tag if possible or make sure you put the costume back onto the hanger with their name so that you know the studio can tick your child’s name off their list when returning the costumes to storage.

PACKING YOUR OWN COSTUMES TO TAKE HOME

The following are a few ideas for you to think about for packing up costumes if you own them and are going to take them home. Which option you take will depend on your OCD levels as well as how busy you are backstage changing your dancers.

By the time I was a senior at my local dance school I was in almost every second item at our concert. My sister also danced and was in nearly as many items. My mum was really busy and didn’t have time to neatly pack every costume back onto our costume rack so the first suggestion is what she would do – it is not for everyone!

  1. As items are taken off and not going to be worn again, place them straight into large bags. This way they do not go missing and cannot be picked up by another dancer mistaking it as theirs. The important thing is to unpack this as soon as possible – normally for us it was the next morning as our recital would finish late in the evening. Of course items that could be broken were not placed in the bag and most things were placed inside out as we had taken them off, so sequins and stones were not ruined or pulled off.
  2. As items are taken off hang them straight away back into their costume bag. This method means that you prepared your costumes in their own individual bags in the first place. Putting them into a costume bag rather than just hanging them on the rack means accessories if not put away properly because you are trying to be quick, fall to the bottom of the bag and not the floor to be lost. If you have really really quick changes during a recital – you may not have time to do this, or if you have more than one dancer to change it may be impossible, so the first option might be better for you.
  3. Hang the costumes after they are worn onto a costume rack that has a bag or tray underneath so accessories if they fall or even costumes fall of the hooks, fall into the bag or tray.
  4. Leave everything in a pile and pick it up at the end of the recital.

PACK AWAY HAIR AND MAKE UP SUPPLIES

Generally at a recital, you should bring a make-up case that stores all your make-up and hair supplies, because there simply will not be enough room for you to lay all your items out on a table – imagine if every dancer did this!

But you may find over the course of the evening that some items have made their way over to other dancers and parents who needed to borrow a hairbrush because they misplaced theirs, or you had special face paint that was left out over the table or even floor.

It is good to try and pack this up throughout the evening if you can, but sometimes between running to the dressing room and to the parents viewing balcony for instance to watch your child perform, these kinds of things can get out of hand.

If you do your child’s makeup at home, and did not have time to clean everything you used up (like me!!) you will also have to remember to put the supplies away when you get home or add what you didn’t take to the makeup case.

This is a good time to go through the makeup and throw away anything that is broken, has run out or is dry, or that you did not use! Write down a list of items you need to replace and buy for next time!

CLEAN, MEND AND PUT AWAY OR STORE YOUR COSTUMES AT HOME

When you get your costumes home, take them out of the bag they were in and make sure to hand them on a hanger. Take a look over them and decide which of the steps below you think you need to proceed with:

  • spot clean
  • air out
  • mend
  • store
  • reuse as a dress up

The first thing you need to address is cleaning off any marks and stains. For this step, check out our article The Best Life-Saving Stain Removers for your Dance Costume Disasters which has a lot of different ideas and ways to clean a costume.

But if I can’t see anything that needs attending to, I like to hang the costumes on the costume rack for a few days to air them out.

If they feel damp or smell, I like to air them out outside in the shade. If I think the smell is more bacterial from sweat, then I like to place them inside out and hang them in the sunshine, as this helps to kill the bacteria and get rid of any funky smells.

After it has aired out I then will take another look at the costume and make sure there is nothing broken or needing to be mended. Then I fix any fasteners or hems that might have frayed before deciding what is going to happen with the costume next.

If the costume is never going to be used again, just decide on what you want to do with it. In the past when my dancer was young I let her use them as dress-up costumes. As my girls have gotten older, the costumes have been used for photoshoots or when they make up dances and performances at home.

If the costumes will be used again for dance, then make sure you store them back in their costume bag with it’s accessories and the list you made during the prepare step of items that need to be packed into the bag for the next time you use it.

Do not hang it in your dancer’s wardrobe, especially if there are costumes in there that you let them wear for dress-ups. Rather store them in your wardrobe or a wardrobe in the house that your dancer knows is for costumes still in use!

PUT AWAY AND STORE DANCE SHOES UNTIL NEXT SEASON

Generally, a recital occurs at the end of your dance season, although some occur mid-season, most are still followed by a break.

Therefore when packing dance shoes away, don’t stuff them back into your dancer’s dance bag to sit there for more than 6 weeks (imagine doing that with gym shoes!).

First of all, get your dancer to try them on if they are too tight now, you are definitely going to have to buy them new shoes for when they start back, so you can immediately think about selling their current pair or cleaning them up and storing them for a sibling.

A lot though can happen in 6 weeks or more, so if right now they still fit great, then you might find they are fine when they go to wear them when classes start back. But you will want to clean them over first.

I suggest lightly wiping them using a damp microfiber cloth. If they are extra dirty you might want to use some washing-up liquid like Dawn. Let the shoes dry out and air completely for a day or two before either returning them to their dance bag or sitting them out in their wardrobe or wherever you store their shoes.

You might like to think about purchasing charcoal shoe smell absorbers and place these inside each shoe over the long break to help them stay fresh.

If they do smell you might want to use something a bit stronger like you would on gym shoes. A shoe spray or similar will probably do the trick – just follow the instructions on the can.

CLEAN AND PUT AWAY TIGHTS AND DANCE UNDERWEAR

After your recital, you will need to wash and clean all the tights and dance underwear that was worn. Some of this might have make-up on it so you can refer to our article The Best Life-Saving Stain Removers for your Dance Costume Disasters to help you get that out if you need.

But once they are clean don’t just put them away in your dancer’s closet. Think about whether they fit your dancer well? Do you think in the next season they will be going up a size? Does anything have holes or loose elastic? If so give away whatever doesn’t fit, or store it for a sibling. Throw away tights that can no longer be worn or underwear that falls down because the elastic is gone.

Make a list of things you need to buy – check out our resource pages if you want to know what we recommend.

GO THROUGH YOUR CHILD’S DANCE WEAR READY FOR NEXT SEASON

Lastly, while in the flow of putting away, packing, and storing why not also go through the rest of your dancers, dancewear now! You might want to check the following:

Size
Is the dancewear you own the right size for your dancer? Have they grown out of most of what they have?

Color
Some dance studios change the color of the student’s leotards depending on which grade/class they are in, do you need to purchase a new one even if the old one still fits?

Items
Do you have all the items you need for instance a wrap, which keeps a dancer’s arms and chest warm or a ballet skirt, or a crop top for the new jazz class they will be taking next season?

If you look over your kid’s dancewear early, you are in the best position to grab some of the items second-hand or to make sure you can get them ordered in for you if buying new ones!

Packing at the end of the recital is not just important for making sure you haven’t lost anything after your recital, but it is also important for the longevity of your costumes and for making sure you are prepared and ready for the next season of dance!

The Ultimate Guide

If you didn’t find all the information you were after that is because I turned what was an extremely long article about getting ready for your dance recital into a 5-page Ultimate guide.

For more information, tips, and advice on each step to getting recital ready head to any of the other four following articles in the guide here:

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Pack – The Fourth Step to Surviving your kid’s Dance or Ballet recital

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