How to thrive, not just survive, competition season

Jan 15, 2014 | Blog

Newberg and McMinnville Performing Company dancers are gearing up for competition season. As the seasoned dancers and dance families know, competitions are vastly different from the annual showcase and other community performances. For the newbies, there’s a bit of a learning curve!

Cheesin’ after an awesome weekend of dance

Above all, competitions are the premier opportunity to improve and direct dancers’ dance training. Competitions are milestones for personal growth, too. They are not the be-all-end-all to a dancer’s ability or career, but the high-level, intense environment undoubtedly creates an emotionally-charged experience for most dancers.

CVDA wants to make the entire competition experience as positive as it can be for dancers and their families. We encourage you to read the entire blog post and your input is welcomed in the comments section at the end. Knowledge is power, and collectively we can enhance the competition experience for our dancers.

A well-stocked makeup/hair kit is a dancer’s best friend

Parents, your most important role is to love and support. This is your daughter’s time; let her be inside the moment with all its ups, downs, and in-betweens. One of the best ways to show love and support is to listen.

Listen without judgment, listen without advice (unless she asks), listen without fueling the drama fire. If you feel yourself getting swept up in her emotions, take a deep breath and remain calm. Listen some more. Give a hug and remind her you believe in her.

Team bonding at competition – the best part

Gather your tribe. Just as your daughter is cultivating a community with her PC team, you can do the same thing with other parents. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. If you are a seasoned dance parent, do your part to make new parents feel welcome. We can all learn something from each other and the mutual support is invaluable.

Make a list – and check it twice!

Stay focused on the big picture and don’t sweat the small stuff. The days are long but the years are short, so keep an adult perspective. Micromanagement is never helpful. Allowing your daughter to get ready on her own empowers her and shows you have confidence in her responsibility.

Keep a postive, encouraging attitude. No matter how prepared you are, expect the unexpected and use that sense of humor! Inevitably something will go wrong, but it’s not the end of the world. Communicate how proud you are of your dancer, regardless of her performance and/or placement.

McMinnville PC post awards ceremony

Top 5 practical tips to help the day go smoothly:

1. Make a list and check it twice. Help your dancer write a list of things she needs for costumes, makeup, and personal items the week before. (One PC parent prints off packing lists – one for costumes and one for personal supplies – before each competition.) Referring to your list a week prior gives you time to get prepared.
2. Pack the night before. Mornings can be rushed and a bit stressful, so it’s best to follow your list and pack before bed.
3. Get restful sleep for the week leading up to competition. Chances are your dancer won’t sleep well the night before competition because of nerves.
4. Bring costume-friendly, healthy snacks and plenty of water. Also, figure out when you can fit in a meal break, scout out nearby restaurants, and take their orders well in advance if you don’t bring a sack lunch.
5. Be early. Give yourself ample time to drive, park, and find the venue. The schedule is often an estimation, so a time cushion is paramount!

Mandolin prepares for the stage

And don’t forget:
Your dancer does need you, love you, and appreciate you. They will have a very hard time showing it over competition weekends. But without you, they wouldn’t be able to do any of this. Don’t be surprised if you feel like chopped liver at some point. It’s completely normal and happens to every parent of a dancer!


Thanks to all who gave input for this post. If we didn’t cover something, please comment below!