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Top 10 Items to Pack for Recitals and Competitions

During the incredibly busy recital and competition season, parents of dancers can reduce stress with a
little bit of organization and advance planning. The best place to start is with a list of routines and the
costumes, tights, shoes, and accessories that go with each routine. Here are ten essential items that will
make every back stage parent feel prepared for the big show!

1. Costumes – A day or so before the show review your list of routines and make sure you packed the
costume and matching accessories such as hats, hair pieces, gloves, and jewelry for each one. Take
a good look at each costume, especially if it hasn’t been worn for a while, to make sure it is free of
tags, strings, wrinkles, and stains. A portable steamer is a great idea if you have a lot of costumes that
might wrinkle during transport. Garment bags with lots of pockets work wonders for keeping costumes
protected and organized.

2. Shoes and Tights – Identify the tights and shoes (color and style) for each routine that will be
performed. If possible, pack the tights and shoes in the same bag as the matching costume. Use a
large zip lock bag, mark the bag with the routine name, and slip it over the costume hanger to keep
everything in one place. Pack an extra pair of each color tight for emergency holes or runs.

3. Undergarments – Have your dancer try on each costume before the big show and choose appropriate
undergarments for each piece if needed. Nude colored leotards, bras, and unitards are often available
with clear, adjustable straps for an extra layer of coverage that won’t show under costumes. Check with
the instructor to see if there is an undergarment preference for your costume.

4. Safety Pins – Safety pins can be life savers backstage! Have a bag of pins in a variety of sizes on hand
for emergency costume repair or to add extra security to detachable costume accessories. Secure the
safety pins in a way that will be comfortable and covered by fabric so no irritation occurs during dancing.

5. Make-up and Hair Supplies – Organize your stage make-up and hair supplies in a container with
multiple compartments a couple of days before the big event so you can quickly find everything you
need. Hair items such as bobby pins, hair pins, elastic holders, hair nets, hair gel, a water bottle, and hair
spray will allow you to master multiple sleek hair styles. Stage make-up should be more pronounced
and often includes items such as eyelashes, liquid or pencil eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, foundation,
blush, lipstick, and sometimes face and body glitter. Pick colors and apply in a manner appropriate to
your dancer’s age group and studio requirements.

6. Music – Whether the dancer or the studio is responsible for music, it is always a good idea to have
a back-up copy of your music in the format that will be used at the recital or competition. There is
often a lot of downtime, and it is nice to have both dance music for practice, and other music your
dancer enjoys in a portable device with headphones to help pass the time and calm nerves before a

7. First Aid Kit – A simple first aid kit will fit in most dance bags and will keep you prepared for

unexpected blisters, cuts, bumps, and bruises. Band-Aids, pain relievers, ointments, and ace bandages
are good to have on hand if you prefer to create your own kit.

8. Water and Snacks – It is very important for a dancer to stay hydrated on the day of a show. Water is
a better choice than sports drinks or sodas both for hydration, and for avoiding messy back stage spills
near costumes. Healthy snacks that will not upset a nervous stomach are also important to keep your
dancer’s energy going strong all day long.

9. Extras – It is always a good idea to bring an extra pair of tights in every color needed, and extra shoes
if you have them. Other important extras include a back-up copy of music, bobby pins, safety pins, hair
ties, and shoe accessories. Bring tools to fix shoes such as a small screwdriver and extra tap screws,
extra ribbon and elastic for ballet shoes, and a small sewing kit with several different colors of thread.

10. Patience! – Anything can and will happen at dance performances and competitions. A little bit of
patience and good humor can go a long way to help both you and your dance family get though a long
day. If things get stressful, take a moment to remember why you and your dancer enjoy this activity so
much, and always remember to have some fun!

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4 Responses to “Top 10 Items to Pack for Recitals and Competitions”

  1. On August 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm P Brooks responded with... #

    The list you created is a great start. I would add instant ice packs to the first aid kit, a pillow and blanket anywhere, street clothes, and a number 9.5 for entertainment. Having been to 3 competitions a year with my daughter for 14 years, something to keep them busy between dances is a must! I used to have a bag with all kinds of travel games, coloring books and colors, books, pens and paper, paper dolls and clothes, etc. (Now it is just kindles and laptops.) I was the only parent at the beginning, but as other kids joined my daughter in playing with stuff, more and more moms and dads would coordinate the toys, snacks and drinks, and things.

    • On August 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm admin responded with... #

      Those are excellent additional suggestions. There is indeed a lot of down time at these events and you can never be too prepared! Thanks for sharing!

  2. On August 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm Micheline Ronningen responded with... #

    Is this information source oriented towards female dancers?

    • On August 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi Micheline,

      No in fact, most of the top items suggested in this list apply to both male and female dancers. Male and female dancers will have different specific needs within the categories suggested of course, but this list is designed as a starting point for a wide base of dancers.


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