Recitals are an exciting time – seeing your child show off everything they’ve learned is very special. You might be nervous for them, and it is a big day, but it doesn’t need to be a stressful one. Seasoned recital-goer or new to the whole experience, here are some tips for a smooth day with all the focus on the dancing!
The key to a stress-free recital is preparation, and that starts well in advance of the day. You’ll be given important information ahead of time, so you should read through it and keep instructions in a safe place. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher.
Next, start making a list of things you’ll need for the big day, and gather together anything you don’t already have. Of course, each recital is different, but there are some general things it’s always good to bring to a show:
A large bag - one with dividers and pockets keeps all the little things organized.
Costumes and accessories/shoes/costume notes - each costume can go in a costume bag, so all parts of the costume are together and on a hanger. You can buy multi-pocket organizers to hang in them, like these, from Dream Duffel, so you can easily keep all your accessories together, even spare tights and shoes!
A pair of flipflops/slippers/comfy socks - these are great for resting tired feet! You should never wear your dance shoes outside to or from a performance. Get comfortable footwear for all the between times you aren’t dancing.
Everything hair-related - bobby pins in various sizes; ponytail holders/hair elastics; hair net; a comb and a brush; hairspray/hair gel; and a bun-making accessory. Don’t forget someone who knows how to do your hair!
Make-up - foundation/base/powder, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush, lipstick, and anything else you may need for your particular studio. We wear glitter! Even if your make-up is done before you leave the house, don’t forget make-up brushes and a hand mirror to help with touch-ups throughout your show.
Items for small emergencies - baby wipes; a travel pack of tissues; Q-tips; first aid items like band aids or aspirin; clear nail polish for mending snagged tights; a small sewing kit; safety pins in various sizes; scissors; double-sided tape. You never know what might happen and it’s always best to be prepared!
Recital schedule - you'll want to have a copy of the schedule with you to make sure you are arriving to the right places at the right times. It's also good to know the performance order so you can be in your seat and ready when it is your dancer's time to shine!
Stain-free activities - a deck of cards; iPad/Kindle; pencil and paper (also useful for making notes); a book. There will be downtime, especially on rehearsal day, and you want to have something to keep your attention without the risk of ruining your costume. A yoga mat or beach towel to sit on is also a good idea – it ensures you can sit and wait on the floor without dirtying your tights.
Mess-free snacks and drinks - granola/protein bars, grapes, small crackers, water bottles. Again, don’t bring anything that you could potentially spill on your costume. You want to keep it nice for the show!
Phone/camera/video camera - to take pictures before and after the performance! It’s a big day for everyone…make sure to document how great you look and how much fun you had! Check with your dance school before taking pictures or video of the actual dances though – some studios have hired professionals and have rules about when you can and can’t film. Know before you arrive what is and isn’t allowed.
Recital gifts - for post-recital celebration! Kids love getting balloons, flowers, small stuffed animals, etc. It doesn’t have to be much, just something to say “I’m proud of all the hard work you did.”
Make sure to label everything important, or groups of things that go together (costumes with accessories, first aid items, all makeup, etc) so you can stay organized and find everything you need in a pinch. Having all the correct items won’t help you very much if you can’t find anything when the time comes!
Another way to be prepared is by making a timeline. It can be as simple as a note of the times you need to leave the house and arrive at the venue – leave extra time for travel. You could even put the address and directions on there just in case you need them. If you don’t know how long it will take you to get ready, you should practice at home before recital day so you can plan ahead. Nothing is more stressful than running around last minute and worrying you are going to be late.
If you’ve followed all that, you’ll be about as prepared as you can be. All that’s left is to make sure your dancer eats well the night before and gets a good night’s rest. Remember to breathe, stay calm, and be encouraging so nerves don’t get in the way right before show-time. A dancer who is prepared and confident will have a much better time on stage than one who is worried they’ve forgotten something.
Afterwards, plan something nice like going to dinner with family, or getting a special treat to celebrate. You just survived recital day like a pro - you’ve earned it! If planning something else on your own is too much, see if your studio organizes anything special after recital for students to attend to celebrate a job well done. This year, we are having a pot-luck picnic with cake and balloons at a playground so everyone can eat and kids can play and unwind after such a strenuous day – plus it’s a great way to bond with your fellow dance families!