Eisteddfod week number one is done. We have just finished a big week of dance comp. It was the first comp of the year for most of our Eisteddfod team. For many of our dancers, it was the first time competing with a solo or duo. This was a big deal for them and their support crew, their Parents and friends. There is so much you learn at the first comp to help with all the others.
So what do you really need to know when you have a competition day? What is it that will make your dancer do well? So often, it is the little things that make the difference.
When Do We Arrive?
Firstly it is important to arrive early. Time seems to fly at a comp. You don’t really think that arriving 2 – 3 hours early is necessary, until you don’t. So much time is taken up when a dancer has hair and make-up to do and then get dressed into their costume. You need to allow time for running to the nearest dance shop for the correct stockings, because the others have a ladder in them. Maybe you might have to run back there once more because the lady sold you the wrong sort. It helps to like running around like a crazy dance Mum when you are at a comp.
Dancers Need Time
Dancers need lots of time to warm-up their bodies. They need to make sure they are ready to dance their best and not injure themselves. Acro tricks in Contemporary, Jazz and lyrical routines can’t be performed safely when dancers aren’t warm.
Lots of time means that dancers aren’t rushed and flustered. Early dancers are relaxed and ready to get on stage and do their best. There will be nerves, no matter how early you arrive, but at least an early dancer has time to calm themselves a little.
Have Lots of Stockings
Speaking of stockings – you need lots of them. Ladders appear out of no-where. The colour and style isn’t the one your teacher wants. Be prepared to have multiples of different stockings. Costumes can look totally different when stockings aren’t quite right.
Make-up is important. The correct colour of eyeshadow and lipstick makes so much difference to the over-all appearance of the dancer. Of course it makes them dance better! False eyelashes are a must. These are not the easiest things to put on. You will require someone present, who is capable of applying them. A short course in make-up artistry is advisable. Being able apply make-up and do hair in MacDonalds is a qualification every dance Mum should have.
Glitter hairspray – you just can’t have enough. As at concert time, glitter hairspray is not easy to come by when you really need it. When you see it, buy every can they have. A can just doesn’t seem to go far either. Have every colour you can get your hands on. Different costumes may require different colours. Rainbow may not go with a gold costume.
Always bring a tool kit of scissors, needle, thread, safety pins, hand wipes, nail polisher remover and anything else you feel you may need. Hair nets, hair pins and hairspray, of course are a must. Spares are so important.
Food and water are essential. Dancers need to be hydrated and have energy. There is often a long wait between routines and you need to keep dancers from getting hungry. Healthy food is best. Food that doesn’t ruin costumes is most advisable.
Nerves are Normal – For Parents
Parents always get more nervous than their dancers. Don’t worry, so do dance teachers. It is a big thing to see your child go onto a stage by themselves and perform. That is why we have so many hours of rehearsal. See previous blog https://www.focusondance.com.au/eisteddfod-kids/ .This will prepare them to be able to dance, even when they are nervous. Once that music begins, it all becomes normal. You will be glad you drove to dance all those times, when they dance well and hopefully don’t forget their routine.
Coffee is Essential
Coffee, the magic ingredient of comp day! It is a very tiring experience and coffee will help. I am speaking about the Parents, of course. Find out where your nearest source of coffee is and make friends with the barrista. You will be seeing quite alot of each other, especially if your dancer competes on several days. If you have a long drive home after a long day at comp, coffee is the important last port before you take to the road.
Travelling is Part of being a Dance Parent
Eisteddfod Dance Mums spend hours in their cars. Not just driving either. Cars have been known to be dressing rooms, when a venue isn’t open yet, as well as a place to have a rest between sessions. Comps are usually at least an hour or two from home. I have know Mums who have travelled even longer to get their dancer to a comp. That is dedication. If this is the first time to a venue, ask those more experienced the best way to get their. How long it will take and when is the best time to travel. Good old Google Maps will help, but there is nothing like experience to help get you there the best way.
It is good to remember that the Adjudicator is a person. It is their opinion on the day that decides the placings. You are not the Adjudicator and sometimes you may not agree with them. But that is ok. Your dancer needs to listen to the critique and learn from what the comments on the report say. Sometimes it just might be what your teacher has said! Every dancer is doing their best and so are their Mums. Make friends and chat to other Mums from other schools. See if their experience is similar to yours, it probably is. Some Mums you will know not to approach – they are a little scary! Try not to discuss other schools in the venue, just in case someone’s Mum or teacher is listening. We all want to teach our kids to be respectful and supportive of fellow dancers.
I know that all my dancer’s Mums have all learned all of the lessons above. I probably should have written this for them earlier. But now they know and are awesome Dance Parents. I hope they are all looking forward to the other comps during the year. I know our dancers are.