Perfectly Practical #108 - Dance Recital Survival Kit

Anyone else in the throws of dance recital season?

Diva had hers on Sunday and while I was making my list and gathering supplies for her dress rehearsal, I thought there might be some first timers out there who may like to have a couple of tips before their big performance.

Dressing rooms are CRAZYTOWN during a performance with costumes and make up and hairspray flying all over the place.  You want to be able to tend to your dancer's needs efficiently without being swept away by the whirlwind of chaos and the best way to do that is to be prepared.

Get a Laundry Basket - Before you do anything else, get a laundry basket and put your name on all side of it with a permanent marker.  This will be the landing spot for all of your paraphernalia so you want to make sure that it is very obvious that this piece of real estate and all of its contents belongs to you.

Label Everything - You might as well leave that marker out because you'll need to put your name on anything that will be in that basket.

Costumes - Hang up the costume on a hanger and put its accessories in a labeled (your name, the dance it belongs to, etc.) ziptop bag.  Poke a hole through the top of the bag and push the hanger through it so that the costume in its entirety is hanging from the one hanger.  Repeat for all costumes and lay across your laundry basket.  When you get to the dressing room, you may have space to hang it up and when you finish the number on stage, everything goes back in its place.

Safety Pins - There will always be a broken strap, or an ill fitting costume, or any number of other situations where you will need a safety pin.  Keep them in a ziptop bag.

Bobby Pins - Most instructors will have the girls wear their hair a certain way for a recital and most likely it will require having their hair out of their face and/or a hat, feathers or some other hair accessory that needs attaching.  Keep these on their cardboard holder in another ziptop bag.

Cotton Swabs and Tissues - These are for mascara runs and tears and when Momma's hand slips when she's putting on her dancer's lipstick...uh hem...

Hairspray - I prefer aerosol for this kind of thing.  That's not something we use on a regular basis but I use just for recitals.

Make-Up - Stage lights wash out everyone so your dancer needs a boost in her coloring to stand out.  I'm not talking "Toddlers & Tiaras" here, just a little blush, lipstick, and eye make-up so that her lovely face will show up under those harsh lights.

Ponytail Holders - This goes back to what I was saying about the bobby pins.  Also, in a pinch, a slightly stretched out holder could help keep sleeves or socks up for a costume.

Brush - You need something to help smooth out that mane in between numbers.

Clear Fingernail Polish - Inevitably there will be a run in some one's tights.  Nip it in the bud with clear fingernail polish.

Shoes - Seems like a no brainer but if you don't put it in the basket, you may forget them.

Undergarments - Whatever foundation (like bodytards or sports bras) you are allowed to wear during the performance, don't forget to bring it with you.

Etc. - Body Glitter, Clear or Nude Bodytard Straps, jewelry, and anything else that you are asked to specifically bring/wear by your instructor.

Take Extras - However many of each item you think you may need, bring more along.  Even if you don't use them, someone else might.

Water & Snacks - Your kid is sweating on stage, waiting around backstage, and generally running on adrenaline for several hours, make sure you have them some water and a snack (watch out for messy chocolate) to keep their blood sugar up.

Quiet Activities - Because there is so much downtime backstage, a notepad or puzzle book and pencil (no pens or markers please) or coloring books and crayons are pretty much necessities.  I would not recommend noisy toys like gaming systems or portable DVD players since they make noise, or if your child is wearing headphones, they may miss their cue. 

Cash - Most likely, there will be a mom who is in charge of getting donations for a card and a gift for the dance teachers so be prepared to contribute.  Some dance studios charge for tickets and or programs so you'll need money for that too.

Flowers - It is traditional, at least here in the South, to get your tiny dancer flowers to be given to her after the performance.  Call it keeping up with the Jones, call it tradition, call it wasteful, call it whatever you want to, but even if you have to pluck flowers from your garden, take that little girl some blooms.  How often do you get the chance to make your little (or big) girl feel that special - like a beautiful prima donna?

Recital Order List - There may be one on the wall but even so, it is nice to know how long you have in between each costume change.

Make sure you give lots of love and kisses to your dancers because they work really hard all year for that one show.

This is part of Works for Me Wednesday and The Mommy Club.


  1. We do something similar for sports. I have one extra-large tote for the participant and then a smaller tote for the family spectators. Planning and organizing ahead has saved the day for us, and we've often been able to help someone who forgot an essential item.

    1. That's a great idea Ms. Kristin to have TWO totes. The participants obviously need their gear but the spectators need their supplies as well. Thanks for sharing that tip with us.


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