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Perform – The Third Step to Successfully Navigate Your Child’s Ballet or Dance Recital

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

The day of the recital is here. You have practiced, and you are prepared and now not only will your dancer be performing, but so will you!

On the day of a dance recital as a parent, you will be performing various roles and duties from chauffeur to clothes dresser, hair and make-up artist, counselor, snack supplier, medic, and more before the day is out.

But don’t worry there are many things you can do on the day to help it run more smoothly.

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!

Stick to your schedule

We all sometimes think we have more time than we actually do to get things done and so creating a schedule for the day and working out how long you will need for things such as hair and makeup and the drive time can really help you to have a successful day.

You may have made a schedule the night before in the prepare step, but if not quickly writing one down before you begin your day can be really helpful. You don’t necessarily need to stick to your schedule like clockwork, but having an idea of how much time you have to do things before you leave will ensure you are not rushing at the last minute.

Also double-check things like do you have petrol in the car – otherwise, you may need to factor this in to leave earlier,

A sample schedule might be (I like to work backward when writing mine):

5 pmRecital starts
4.30 pmCall Husband make sure he is on his way with other children and grandparents
4 pmArrive inside the Venue (Find our dressing room, Put out things down, Set up, get my dancer into their tights and costume and ready for their first item.)
3.45 pmI want to be parking the car, as it can be hard to find and we may have to walk 5 minutes to the hall.
3.30 pmLeaving the house – We should aim to be in the car by 3.25 pm so we actually leave at 3.30
3.00 pmTime to pack up the Hair and Makeup supplies, double-check all the costumes, and load them into the car
2.15 pmMakeup
1.45 pmHair
1.30 pmGet all the Hair and Make up ready so it is out and in arms reach.
12.30pmMake sure we are having lunch by 12.30 so I can start to focus on getting ready for the recital by 1.30 pm

For some 45minutes may seem like a long time to allocate for hair and again for make-up. But as a mom of four kids, I know that I need to give myself more time than I need.

If you take a look at the schedule in the photo above that I made one year, we ended up being so rushed for time! I didn’t leave enough time to comfortably do my girls hair and make up or check we had everything we needed! I was yelling at my girls to grab their things and get in the car and it really wasn’t a great experience – but it was lucky I had left so much time to get to the venue, as once in the car on our way we were able to relax!

Maybe you will need only 30 for each or schedule 45 minutes because you are doing two! But make sure you leave more than a full 30minutes to do both hair and make up if you do not want to feel stressed and rushed!

I get disrupted by other children wanting and asking for things, or in-between hair and makeup I need to go and make snacks or fix something for a child, or I have trouble pulling my daughter’s hair up into a slick ponytail and have to do it three times until I am happy with it!

It is better to have time left over – you can sit and watch a program or read a book and relax – than be rushing out the door stressed and hoping you grabbed everything you needed!

Start to Get Ready Before you Leave your Home

Depending on your call time and backstage space, it can be best to do your dancer’s hair and makeup at home, leaving the touch-ups for when you arrive at your performance space.

Doing your hair and makeup at home really eliminates the stress of doing things last minute. You also won’t be as rushed (if you schedule it right), so you’ll have more time to make everything look perfect.

I have also found that doing hair and make-up at home when my daughters were younger meant I did not need to bring EVERYTHING I used at home to the venue, just enough for touch ups for example lipstick, powder, eyeshadow palette, hairspray, spare hairpins, and a brush.

But if your child is in more than one item, or you have more than two shows in one day, bringing everything with you is necessary as there may be hairstyle changes, and more serious touch-ups needed from costume changes, sweating, etc…

Your dancer should not be wearing their costume to the venue unless your teacher has specified you do so, this is what the dressing rooms are for. Wearing the costume to the venue could

However, some studios may ask you to have your child dressed in their tights and leotard like one of our previous dance studios did as parents were not needed backstage. When my girls did this, they wore their Bloch dance booties over their ballet shoes and a dressing gown over their leotards to keep them warm.

This brings me to one last point – if your teacher has asked your dancer to be in their tights when arriving at the performance venue if they are wearing ballet shoes with ribbons and you have a pair of Bloch Dance booties or similar you can do their ribbons at home.

I know for me personally doing their ribbons so they look perfect for a performance can take me some time. Being able to do them at home means I was not stressed and could get my girls to lay in awkward ways so I could best get to their ankles and tie and hide the ribbon knots.

Double Check EVERYTHING Before You Leave

Even though you may think you have everything in your dance and costume bags or in the car or know the performance schedule by heart, you should still double-check everything before you leave – especially if you have young children!!

I am not saying this because I believe having young children makes us more scatterbrained, but small children sometimes have the tendency to go into their bags to just have a last look at a costume or their shoes or take something out one last time and somehow forget to put those items back in the bags.

Also with the craziness of the whole process, it’s not unexpected that you may forget something, so double-check everything is there, especially if the venue is far from your home!

Arrive Early at the Venue

When you have a 4 pm call time, that doesn’t mean aiming to get there at 4 pm, because if you need to find parking and get everything out of your car realistically that means you may arrive at 4 pm, but not actually be walking in until 10 past or later!

Arriving early will also give you time to fix something if it goes wrong. If you live close by you may be able to head home if you have forgotten something or be able to call someone who is still there to bring something with them.

Arriving early can also mean you get one of the best spots in the dressing room or have space and privacy to change before everyone else starts arriving.

Watching your Dancer Perform

Your studio will have different approaches to allowing backstage moms to watch their dancers perform.

Most will not allow you to stand side of the stage as there generally is not enough room for that and frankly it can distract the dancers.

Depending on the venue some studios may leave for instance the Balcony free for the backstage parents to go sit in to watch their dancers on stage or the last rows of the auditorium. Other studios do two performances and have half the parents help backstage and the other half in the audience and then swap for the second performance. Other studios may set up a screen so you can watch what is happening onstage from backstage. It can also be common for the dress rehearsal to be as the performance backstage parents get to see the dances, apart from when it comes home on DVD.

Stay Positive and keep a good attitude

Keeping a good attitude throughout this whole process is key to having a successful show. Your teacher will be too busy on the day ensuring the show is a success and therefore little issues that may arise will need to either be dealt with positively by you or left until you can talk with your teacher at a time after the recital.

Keep calm and carry on….

At the end of the day please remember, you can only be in control of yourself and can only do what you can.

When I was a dancer my mom worked full time and we didn’t stone costumes with rhinestones we would hand sew sequins on to them.

This one year, she finished work early to pick me up from school to go to my recital and as we drove I was sticking sequins onto a costume because our teacher decided after the dress rehearsal that the costume needed some more sparkle.

We had been prepared and ready, but we just ran out of time trying to sew them all on between school, work, and rehearsals and so we did what we could do in the last minutes.

And you know what – nobody in the audience knew, our teacher was too busy to notice, the world didn’t crumble when I went on stage, the audience couldn’t see the glue marks from that far away….. it all worked out fine!

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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Perform - The Third Step to Successfully Navigate Your Child's Ballet or Dance Recital

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