Pack it in: what dancers should--and shouldn't--take on the road.
With all the pressure of prepping for a competition, it can be hard to remember everything your dancers should take. A checklist you can distribute to students and parents can save lots of time. Besides the givens--shoes, tights, and costumes--here are some items worth adding.
EXTRAS, EXTRAS, AND MORE EXTRAS
Dancers should have extras of everything from hairpins and eyelashes to tights and leos. But Jennifer Efre DeBerry, artistic director of The Dance Effect in Florida's Coral Springs, urges dancers to bring extras of gear they might not even use. "Last year we had two students discover they forgot their shoes five minutes before they went onstage, and one boy had to tap in jazz shoes," she says. "Now we make everyone bring another pair." That way, if someone's forgotten their shoes, they can borrow from another dancer.
With so many nationals held in the summer, dancers need sunscreen even if they don't plan to
hang out poolside. "One of my dancers always gets burned to a crisp and then they have to dance the next day!" says Heather Soccio, owner and competition director of New Jersey's Dance Arts Academy in Boonton. Now she tells students to bring soothing lotion like aloe vera, because dancing with costumes rubbing against a burn can be painful.
It all starts with a small container or bag she dubs "the caboodle," says Susan Edson, artistic director of Dance Studio Wakefield in Massachusetts. Besides just being fun to say, the caboodle helps students b organize their makeup, hair accessories, and safety pins. Edson encourages dancers to put their name, school and phone number on everything in their caboodle, right down to the smallest tube of lipstick.
Not only will it keep your dancers smelling fresh and clean, it can also improve their performance if they're dancing barefoot. "Sometimes the stage is really sticky," Soccio says. "They can put baby powder on the soles of their feet and it will be much easier to dance."
GARMENT BAG WITH PORTABLE HANGING RACK
The last thing you want are your dancers' costumes getting crumpled. A garment bag with a hanging rack will make it easy to keep the costumes competition-ready. Soccio suggests that the studio directors bring along a steamer just in case.
Soloists should bring their iPods so they can listen to their music before they perform and rehearse in their heads. But younger dancers should leave theirs behind, cautions Efre DeBerry. They have enough to manage with their costumes and props without the possibility of losing an expensive item that their families may not want to replace.
"Be prepared" should be every dancer's motto. Each student should have a personal emergency kit with first-aid items like Band-Aids and sports tape, a needle and thread for costume fixes, and a mini screwdriver for tap shoes.
THEIR BEST SELVES
Between props, costumes, makeup, and hair accessories, dancers must bring a lot of gear for a good performance, but the most important is a positive attitude. "We tell them to bring their focus," says Efre DeBerry. "We stress that all the training that led up to the competition needs to come too, and most importantly, that they should remember to have fun."