If you are a Dance Mom, the term “recital week” can be a very nerve-wracking, exhausting experience. But it can also be fun and memorable.
My daughter dances with Mid Atlantic Youth Ballet, and we are now on our second performance experience with this group of talented dancers. I will say our first show with MYB, The Nutcracker, was a positive experience and Grace seemed to really thrive. No drama, no catastrophes. She was a real trooper and I attribute it to a lot of solid advice from other dance moms as well as some fundamental tips from MYB founder, Nadia Letnaunchyn.
In order to have a positive performing experience all the way through from the first rehearsal to setting foot on stage, she offers some great advice to following along the way.
tips for surviving recital week
Keep your rehearsal schedule handy. During performance week, rehearsals become more frequent and intense. Dancers no longer rehearse individual dances, but rehearse the performance as a whole and are required to be there longer hours. While there is much time spent waiting, it is important to be present and ready so the show can be rehearsed in its entirety and in show order. Often times, as dances are rehearsed and cleaned, it is also necessary to add extra rehearsals for some pieces. Make every effort to be flexible and understand that the additional rehearsals are to help everyone look their best on stage. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to be in attendance at all rehearsals. It is critical to the success of the performance to have all dancers on stage together prior to performance day. Tech week is not the time to take vacations or go to birthday parties instead of rehearsal.
Purchase and pack all performance essentials ahead of time. Most teachers will provide a list of all things each dancers is responsible for providing. These items generally include tights, undergarments, shoes, and hair accessories. You may want to have an extra pair of tights in case of a mishap. Check old tights and shoes for holes and stains and replace them if needed. It is always important to present a clean and put together look on stage. Pay careful attention to specific hair requirements and be sure to use a little extra hairspray and gel on those fly-aways in your ballet bun for a polished, professional look. Have all items in ziplock bags. If your child is in multiple dances, separate accessories for each and label your bags. Poke a hole through the bags and hang ziplock bags to the hangers for the costumes. Make sure ballet slippers are clean!
The Extras: A few less obvious items that may come in handy include…
- Cash for vending machines (just in case!)
- Baby wipes to fix makeup mistakes or dirty hands
- Clear nail Polish to repair minor holes/runs in tights when there isn’t time to change them
- Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or your pain reliever of choice.
- BandAids … the “invisible” kind (For those little cuts or blisters what may occur!)
- Sewing Kit/Safety pins for emergency costume repairs
- Nail polish remover (just in case you forget to remove that lime green polish. Because, summer!)
- Extra bobby pins
- Extra bun maker/Hair nets
- A bath robe/house coat to cover up their costumes from potential messes while waiting in the dressing room and while making bathroom trips.
- Blanket to sit on in the dressing room.
Snacks and hydration rest are essential. Be sure to pack nutritious snacks and plenty water during tech week. It is so important to have enough energy to endure the long hours of rehearsals. Remember, no food or drink (except water) in costume!
Take naps when you can and get a full nights sleep! Bring puzzles, coloring books (you may want to leave the markers at home) games, iPads with movies or games, homework, and other things to do to keep occupied. There is a lot of time spent waiting and dancers need to have something to do to avoid the temptation of doing things they are not supposed to be doing.
Volunteer. There are countless jobs that need to be done to assure the success of dance performances. The people working backstage are just as important to those we see in stage performing. Enjoy your children by being an active participant In something they love. Sign up to help backstage, mend costumes, help with concessions or videography. There are plenty of jobs to be done for moms and dads alike.
Be on time. Dancers are required to arrive to a performance early for a reason. They must have enough time to get into costume and complete hair and makeup. Most importantly, it is paramount for dancers to warm up their bodies properly to avoid injury.
Follow all rules set forth by your teacher and the theatre staff. They are for the safety of the dancers and all involved. Be respectful to adults and other dancers and remember that the younger students look up to their older peers. Set a positive example at all times. At the end of a performance, dancers are excited to greet their family and friends. However, keep in mind that the week has been long and tiring for all involved, especially for dance teachers theatre staff. Quickly greet your guests and then clean up your belongings and dressing area. It is greatly appreciated when parents and dancers lend an extra 15 minutes to help pack up or “load out” the show so that everyone can get home to their families at a reasonable hour.
Understand that everyone is in this together. There will be stress, exhaustion and both happy and sad tears. Remember to enjoy the process and have fun along the way!
Mid Atlantic Youth Ballet is a non-profit dance school and youth ballet company located in Towson. Mid Atlantic, founded in 2007, provides access to professional quality full-length ballet productions, community outreach, and instruction of dance technique. The 2016 spring performance is Alice in Wonderland, June 10th (10am & 7pm) and June 11th (1pm & 7pm). Performances are held at Stephens Hall Theatre, Towson University.