If you’re new to the dance studio world, there are tons of new things to learn, from different dance styles to different hairstyles!
One thing that might be surprising to a new dancer or dance parent is that there are several ways dancers can gain knowledge outside of the dance studio, and one of those ways is by attending a dance convention.
A dance convention is usually a weekend or one-day event held by a company to teach various dance classes to students from different studios.
Dance conventions are a great way to expose dancers to new styles that you might not find in your local studio, as well as connect with other dancers in your area.
There are many other benefits to attending dance conventions, as detailed below.
What Is a Dance Convention?
Dance conventions exist to give dancers more opportunities to learn from professional dancers and instructors by bringing high-level dance classes to local communities.
Dance conventions have been around for about 50 years in the format we know today. They usually consist of at least one day or an entire weekend of back-to-back dance classes in a variety of styles.
Sometimes, the convention is focused on one style, like hip-hop. Other times, you can find conventions that offer every style of dance imaginable in one day!
Where Are Dance Conventions Held?
Dance conventions are usually held in hotel ballrooms, as they provide the option to stay at the hotel if participants traveled from out of town.
The ballrooms are typically set up with a small platform or stage for the instructor and assistants.
Dancers usually dance directly on the carpet or flooring of the ballroom, but some conventions bring their own parquet or Marley flooring.
What Is The Schedule of a Dance Convention?
When you attend a dance convention, there is usually a warm-up class or a welcome session to gather all dancers together.
Often this warm-up will include all ages, but sometimes it will be separated by age, usually 12 and under and 13 and up.
Next, dancers will head to their first class! Convention classes run from 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes depending on the style and the schedule.
Dancers might get a short, 5 to 10-minute break between classes to change shoes or change rooms, but often classes start directly after the previous class ends!
There will be a lunch break at some point during the day.
At a dance convention, expect to be there from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or later, depending on the individual company.
Are Dance Conventions and Dance Competitions The Same?
No, dance conventions and dance competitions are not the same. However, some dance conventions have competitions attached.
Find out more about dance competitions in our article Dance Competitions Explained – Everything You Want To Know!!
In the United States, there is a category of event called “convention competitions”. This means that the focus of the event is the convention, and the competition portion is considered an added bonus.
Most of the time at a convention competition, participants are limited to a certain amount of routines.
That is because the competition portion of the weekend is short, while at a regular competition, it takes up the whole weekend.
Additionally, at a convention competition, you will not typically see levels of competition (novice, intermediate, advanced).
Everyone will compete with everyone else in their age category, similar to how competitions originally operated.
Why Do Dancers Go To Dance Conventions?
Dancers go to dance conventions for many reasons, but the main reason is to be surrounded by the thing they love most – dance!
Other reasons include the chance to learn from professional dancers, to be inspired, and to win scholarships.
1. Learn From Professionals
At conventions, the faculty usually consists of professional dancers, teachers, and choreographers.
At some of the bigger conventions, you might see faculty from popular dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance or folks who choreograph for Broadway musicals.
Even smaller conventions offer faculty members with diverse and prestigious backgrounds, and these events are eye-opening experiences that demonstrate the vastness of the world of dance.
2. Find Inspiration
Sometimes, just being in the same room with people who love dance just as much as you do can be inspiring. At a dance convention, there is no shortage of inspiration!
From watching the talented assistants demonstrate the combinations, to hearing words of wisdom from the faculty, a weekend at a dance convention will leave your dancer with a fresh perspective.
3. Win Scholarships
A unique opportunity provided by many dance conventions is the chance to win scholarships, either to the next season of the convention or at some larger conventions, to college dance programs.
There may be a dedicated audition class to be considered for the scholarships, or it may be a culmination of how the dancers performed in classes throughout the weekend.
Who Can Attend a Dance Convention?
Typically, your dance studio must register dancers for a convention. Sometimes, conventions will allow independent, unaffiliated dancers to register, but they may not allow them to compete.
Dancers ages 7 and up can attend most dance conventions, but some have started “newbie” programs for as young as age 5 so these dancers can get a taste of the convention life.
Can Parents Watch Dance Conventions?
Many dance conventions do allow parents to watch classes. Parents and guardians may have to purchase an observer pass in order to watch.
However, there are some conventions that do not allow observers. This is because dancers tend to focus better without observers in the room.
If you are allowed to watch class as an observer, please use proper convention etiquette while in the room!
In case you are wondering what proper convention etiquette is read our article Dance Convention Etiquette For Dancers and Parents – The Dos and Don’ts You Need To Know!
What Do You Wear To A Dance Convention?
Dancers should dress in the style of the class they’re taking. So, ballet attire for ballet class and hip-hop attire for hip-hop class!
Nothing is more awkward than trying to get into the groove of hip-hop when you’re wearing tights and a leotard.
Because classes are usually back to back, it helps to layer your attire and choose pieces that are easy to get on and off. You also want to stand out, so find dance clothing that makes you feel and look your best!
Dance conventions are an excellent way to further your training, find inspiration from incredible faculty, and enjoy the camaraderie of other dancers.
If you haven’t had the chance to attend, what are you waiting for?