It starts when you find out you’re having a baby. Of course, you have no idea if you’re having a boy or a girl, but you can’t help wondering…If it’s a girl, will she dance? Will she let me dress her in pink tutus and ribbons? Will she spend her formative years leaping and twirling in my living room? If so, you’re not alone!
If you are reading this, you’re probably lucky enough to have a daughter who ACTUALLY LOVES TO DANCE! Your checklist of first performance day items is now dwindling.
- Found a studio where both you and your dancer feel welcome
- Signed all the necessary paperwork committing you and your dancer to a season in the studio atmosphere, culminating with a performance or several of them
- Attended rehearsals religiously, imagining how all that is going on in the class is going to transfer to the big stage
- Prepared for costuming (and we know this is the fun part) down to every last detail – including matching fingernail polish, the perfect shade of lipstick, and that cherry on top dousing of full-body glitter spray
- Invited every family member, maybe a neighbor or two, and thought through the best time to start your Facebook live footage on the big day
Before you know it, it’s performance day! So how can you avoid the pitfalls of a typical first performance day? What can you do to make the experience rewarding and enjoyable for everyone involved?
It’s not hard if you make a conscious effort NOT to make these common rookie dance mom errors:
- Getting Ready. Sometimes the bonding that happens between dance mom and dancer in the getting ready process is even more important than the performance itself. Keep it special. Perfect mascara and lipstick application are NOT more important than having fun together. Making your dancer sit perfectly still while you maneuver every hair into place is not a great time for your dancer and will not result in a good pre-performance memory on this special day. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete what needs to be done without going overboard.
- It sounds like a no brainer but FEED YOUR DANCER! The amount of time, preparation, and money you spend preparing for this day can be destroyed in an instant with a hungry child – backstage and on stage. In the hustle and bustle of getting ready, plan adequate time to nourish your little star!
- Plan extra travel time. Parking at dance events can be a challenge. Traversing intricate halls to find the correct dressing room can make you feel like you’re on an episode of “Lost”. Occasionally, the line at the admissions or entry table can be out the door. Being late for the time your dancer’s team or class gathers together can be a stressor for not only your dancer, but you dancer’s instructor. Being on time usually means to be 10 minutes early and being on time is often considered late.
- Don’t underestimate manners. Every dance mom at the performance is feeling an equal amount of nerves and excitement. For the two minutes your dancer is on stage, you are all in. You’re transfixed. You can’t take your eyes off your angel. Guess what? For every number performed that evening that your dancer ISN’T in, there are parents just like you who are 100% in the moment watching their child. Don’t interrupt that. Don’t walk in or out while dancers are on stage and for heaven’s sake, don’t stand up while someone is recording. Teach your dancer from a young age to be kind to all other dancers and respectful, both on and off stage.
- Remember the 3 B’s: Be present, be proud, and be patient. Don’t get so caught up in hiding behind the camera or on your phone that you miss being present in the moment your little darling is on stage. No matter what happens on stage, be proud! If your dancer spends her time on stage crying, wetting her pants, doing her own dance, or running off stage…BE PROUD! It’s a scary thing to be up there. Praise them no matter the outcome. Finally, be patient. The more opportunities your budding prima ballerina gets to be on stage, the more comfortable they will become. All good things require patience. Very few kiddos respond instantly in a positive way to the stage.
Performance days are meant to be enjoyed and with a few simple steps, both you and your dancer can create a beautiful memory. Keep your performance days special with preparation and perspective so you can post all the moments of a great day with love and fondness.