Competitions are an exciting experience. Having been involved with the competitive circuit for many years (as a dancer, instructor, judge, and studio owner), the ebb and flow of a competitive weekend feels like second nature (as I am sure it feels to many of you, too). It is important to keep in mind that it may not feel that way to everyone, especially those that are new to the environment. It is our responsibility to relay detailed information, expectations, and general reminders of preparedness to our parents and students to ensure a pleasant, positive, and organized experience for everyone.

Prior to competition season starting, I prepare and distribute a competition overview packet that details all the expectations for the regional events of the season. This includes costume checklists, call times, and responsibilities. It provides parents and dancers a detailed overview of what will happen at the event, what they should expect, and appropriate etiquette. When I receive the schedule for an event, I re-type it so that parents explicitly understand call times, locations/directions, and performance times. The information is beyond thorough and strives to provide more information than necessary.

Aside from the competition overview packet, here are some other steps we take to guarantee a smooth weekend:

  • In January, we offer a hair and make-up seminar where parents style hair and apply make-up. This way, everyone has a consistent look (and the appropriate products) for a successful competition.
  • At the event, I submit my music in an organized, timely manner. We stomp each of our CDs with our logo and organize all of the CDs (in entry order) in a CD book. Prior to the weekend, we will test each of our CDs for any scratches or playing issues. The back of the CD book contains back-up CDs for the routines, and we also carry all of our competition music on an iPad. The CD book lasts throughout the season.
  • In post-competition rehearsals, we debrief the event by discussing appropriate competition etiquette and utilizing the competition feedback (we have made a point to attend competitions where the feedback is constructive).
  • We take responsibility for transporting any large or group required props.
  • We are on-site for our students’ call times and performances. If the studio has representatives at an event, it is important that there be some form of studio leadership/liaison at the event, too.
  • If we have a question about an event, we ask, usually in advance. We never want there to be an “unknown” regarding a weekend, so if there is information you feel as though you are missing, reach out and ask someone. If the company is professional, they will be happy to help.
  • If a concern, incident, or issue arises on site, take the time to handle it calmly and professionally. Everyone is working together to make this a wonderful experience for our students, and there is no need for stress, tempers, or panic. The hours are long and the environment can be stressful, but if you put yourself in the proper mindset, the experience will be more rewarding and productive for everyone. Be kind to everyone!

As a representative of your studio (whether you are a studio owner or instructor), if you are organized, calm, and in control, your students and parents will follow your lead. If you are unorganized, frustrated, or uncertain, that mentality will convey to your parents and students.

The competitive experience is an opportunity for each of our students to grow and improve, as dancers, performers, and people. Make the event positive, encouraging, and constructive.

Finally, take the time and ask yourself if you are you doing everything in your power to guarantee that your parents and dancers are fully prepared for competitive events? We are always evaluating and evolving our systems and methods to make sure that everything is efficient, informative, and functional for a successful weekend.

To learn more about our competition team infrastructure, check out the Competition Team Guide.