Well it’s been a while since I have had an entry.  Life has barreled forward and it is time for recital.  I probably should have published this last Wednesday, but here is a quick guide to surviving recital!  Ready?

  1. Hydration: Starting now this second – hydration.  Your dancer, and quite frankly yourself, need to put down the soda pop, juice or Starbucks drink and change to WATER.  At least 60 ounces daily and by at least I mean at least.  Your dancer will expend great deals of energy in the next week so they will last so much longer, perform so much better and have a significantly more positive attitude with good hydration.  While you’re at it, you may want to consider keeping that up until their Disney performance this year!
  2. Nutrition: Your dancer is prepping for a marathon.  No sugar!  You want to go healthy, no processed with good protein meals.  Some carbs, but not too much.  These are dancers, not swimmers.  They aren’t burning the significant calories that justify the excessive carbs, but you don’t want to completely cut those out either.  Well-balanced meals with leafy dark greens incorporated will prepare your dancer the best and you really need to start that a week in advance.  And the no sugar part, that is serious.  When you give them sugar, they have a high then a crash which impacts their dance and their relationship with you.  If sugar is in the first five ingredients, it’s best to leave it on the grocery shelf.  Here is the extra important tip- this diet should be yours too- you need significant energy as well
  3. Making sure you have everything you need: Costume and accessory organization is key.  Tips include
    • Have a three ring binder with each page being a dance and list items needed, in order of putting them on the body, on each page. The pages can be reordered each rehearsal and recital
    • Have a costume sheet in a page protector hanging over each hanger holding the costume
    • Costume accessories should be in a gallon baggie hanging over the hanger and labeled
    • ALL pieces should have your name on them
    • Have your student gather everything in one area, you check, your husband check, your dancer check, you check, your husband check, you all check as a family unit – are you getting the gist of this bullet point? One person should not gather everything because many eyes help notice missed items
    • Take extra tights!!!! Just do – even boys with the expensive stuff – you don’t know what you might rip
    • Teach your dancer now, regardless of age to place their removed costume, all of the parts in the provided laundry basket and hang it up back on the appropriate hanger when they have time
    • You will need a costume rack and a method to organize shoes, each family has a different preference, do not depend on borrowing other’s racks or there being a place to hang your clothes at the venue
  4. Getting there early – just do. I understand we all work, and many of the kids are still in school  If kids are still in school, I suggest a parent taking off work early and setting up the changing area while the other parent brings the student later.  Arriving at 5pm for 5pm dress rehearsal or call is very stressful on your dancer, even if they don’t relay that information.  Being there at least an hour before really allows everyone to get organized and feel more calm
  5. Setting for quick changes – pretty universally if you are in company, you will have at least one quick change. Now as a Mom who has had literally 30 seconds to do a full costume and shoe change on my daughter for 42nd street opening number, you can do this!!!  Here are the important things to know:
    • You must remain calm, if you cannot then ask another Mom to help. Your stress will cause the dancer to be far more stressed
    • See what part of the next costume you can underdress, such as tan tights under the pink tights
    • Preset the costume so your dancer can step in and pull up, for example the pants should be placed on the ground with pant flat and opened
    • Put the items out in the order the dancer will put things on
    • Consider putting elastic in your tap shoes instead of shoelaces to they can remain tied and the student can just slip their feet in without untying them. Look at my Jon’s taps if you want to see how that works
    • For quick hair changes, be calm, pretalk to your dancer that this may result in pulled hair but you are not meaning to hurt them and you will try your best. Practice the change at home before the real thing
    • Bun makers!!
    • When they are older, ask them how you can best help them
  6. Other stuff to have on hand
    • Bobby pins
    • Safety pins – things rip
    • Needle and thread
    • Hairspray
    • Gel
    • Water
    • Vodka and water spray to clean the costume
    • Make up
    • Small scissors
    • Make up wipes
    • Phillips screwdriver if your child taps
    • Extra straps for your tan undergarment
    • Clear nail polish for runs in tights
    • Extra tights
    • Hair nets
    • Baby wipes
    • Lashes and glue
    • Back up shoes
    • Extra pony tail holders
  7. Hands off and enjoy – let your dancer do as much as they can on their own regardless of the age. By age 13 you should not even be back there unless they really need help with a quick change, but see if you can just not be back there at all and they can use their friends.  It is more calming for your dancer for you to not even be there at all.  By age 10 you should be transitioning yourself OUT OF THE PICTURE.  I have seen parents just cause undue stress on their dancer all the way through their senior year by being in their way.  It’s not that they don’t need you, they need you to be out supporting them in front as a cheerleader not as a micromanager
  8. Calm and collected heads – here is my tip as a speech language pathologist, you have a fully developed frontal lobe, your dancer does not. You need to teach them calm and organized through direct instruction and modeling.  If you can’t do that then the tone will be off and their dancing will be off.  Additionally, while your dancer is not fully mature the expectation that they will be 100% respectful to YOU, their teachers, other adults and fellow peers should be there.  You should never allow them to snit at you without consequences- that stress and uncomfortable situation impacts the individuals in their area and makes their world stress.  YOUR JOB IS TO TEACH YOUR DANCER TO CARE MORE ABOUT OTHERS THAN THEMSELVES!!!
  9. Dance etiquette
    1. We are not a competition studio, so the screaming of individual names is distracting and can be bullying if there are 8 dancers in a piece and 7 kids get their names called. It’s also bullying if it’s done specifically to make a dancer mess up their piece.  WORK IT!  YEAH!  General encouragements for jazz and hip hop are great.  Remember we are DANCERS, not GIRLS
    2. Ballet and modern are not the whoop and holler style dance.   DON’T.  DO.  IT!  Clap loudly, BRAVO!, YAY!  YES!  But no name calling, please no
    3. Clap for everyone, everyone. We support all
    4. Please cheer loudly for the moves you know are hard. Our dancers make these look easy so the audience doesn’t realize how very hard this is.  Be the audience plant and get them started clapping for hard leaps, turns, lifts and other moves
    5. Clap with the energetic movement and try to engage the audience in the recital. Dancers perform better when they can hear their audience

Most of all, just enjoy this weekend.  Believe me, 24 years passes like the wind and you will be staring at only one more year left with this joy and the identity you have known half your life will be gone.  They are only young once and this, in the moment, is all you get.