So here you are, 4 months into Dance Season and you arrive at the studio and see lots of posters and pictures from Tremaine! Adrenaline! Nuvo! and Jump!
Welcome to Competition Season.
Competition Season is not for the faint of heart, the weak, or the tired. Think of what you do for Black Friday. You plan, you pull the ads and identify your purchases, you time your trips and map your routes, you spend lots of money on fantastic deals, and at the end of the day you come home satisfied, tired, probably a little sore, and with an empty wallet. But you got awesome gifts for the people you love.
Competition Season is an extended mirror image of Black Friday. Let me break it down for you:
• The lead up to Black Friday is like the lead up to Dance Competition.
Time is on your side. Your dancer is in Dance Class season and progressing nicely on their competition numbers. You’ve got all the time in the world to order party hair (hair extensions), bedazzle costumes, and form a bond with the other team parents and Ms. Mariah and Ms. Jan. The first competition is months away, but you have an idea of what your expectations are and what you’ll need to do to help your dancer and the studio compete like Rock Stars.
• Planning for Black Friday is like Planning for Dance Competition.
Thankfully, Ms. Mariah gives us PLENTY of notice for what our Dance Competition season will look like, so I pull out the family calendar and start marking down the dates. This year the calendar holds 4 Convention/Competitions and 2 Competition only events from November to March. I’ve requested the time off work (usually just a ½ day on Friday), notified my dancers school teachers (they’ve been very accommodating giving homework and tests in advance!), and told family and friends that from about 3:00 on Friday afternoon until 11:00 on Sunday evening I would be out of pocket for chit chat.
• Reviewing Ads for Black Friday Sales is like Reviewing the Venue for Dance Competition.
You print out your hotel information, packing lists, and costume lists. You review the hotel website to make sure you know what kind of dining options there are and whether your dancer will/can eat what is provided. Based on price and options, you may create a grocery list. You find out your dancer’s competition schedule and adjust your grocery list because now you need to add an extra snack because they won’t be able to eat dinner until 7:30pm. But, you’ve got it figured out. You know what you need from what store, work it into your schedule, and have your bags packed and ready to go when you pick your dancer up from school on Friday at noon to head to competition.
• Reviewing a Map and Creating a Time Plan for Black Friday is like Reviewing a Hotel Map and Creating a Time Plan for Dance Competition.
Based on a true story: You just found out that your dancer, who is in 3 competition numbers, has all three numbers competing in the first hour (of 5-hour competition), and has tights, costume, and hair changes that have to occur. Oh, and there are only 3 dances between one set of routines, and 4 dances between the other set of routines. Do you stress out? No, you work with Ms. Mariah to make last minute adjustments to hair, you layer your dancer’s tights so they only have to take off, not put on, and you collaborate with the other moms to make sure that you get to see the routine performed on stage AND are able to get backstage to help with the quick change. You have just found your Dance Parent Tribe. It all works out. Everyone helps each other, you’ve divided and conquered. Your dancers never lose their smiles nor see you sweat (oh, pack some extra deodorant and don’t plan on being pretty backstage).
• Spending Money on Black Friday is like Spending Money on Dance Competition.
Every year it will be different. Will this be the year we have to buy all new warm ups and costumes, or will we be reusing anything from last year? Will any of the venue locations enable us to stay at a less expensive hotel nearby or will the location be isolated, and we’ll have to stay in the high-end resort with the exorbitant fees just to make sure we’re close by? Some months I cringe looking at my credit card bill and wonder if it is all worth it. When my dancer comes home from school and can’t wait to go to dance, it’s worth it. When my dancer makes honor roll because she knows good grades are required to stay on dance team, it’s worth it. When my dancer does something wrong and we threaten to take dance away as punishment which leads my dancer to say “Please, take my electronics, take away my friends, but don’t make me miss dance.”, it’s worth it. When I see the look on her face as she walks across that stage to accept her dance trophy, it’s the best deal I have ever received.
• Crashing with a Glass of Wine on Black Friday is like Crashing with a Glass of Wine at Dance Competition.
It’s 11:00pm. You did it. Your dancer did it. You’ve been up since 5:30am. There was anticipation, there were tears, there were smiles, BIG SMILES, there were lost tempers, there were lost articles of clothing, there were winners, and your dancer was a winner. Now there is wine and the chance to look back at the planning and effort that went into competition weekend. Who’s ready to do it again in a few weeks?
As a former competitive dancer and now the mom of a competitive dancer, it’s an eye-opening world. I am so glad that we are in Dance Competition season. It’s my favorite season of the year!
If you have any questions about dance competitions or dance conventions – from a parent’s perspective, feel free to reach out to either Laura Atter or me (Kristen Cokeley). We would love to talk to you!