It's that time of the year for most Dance Studios.
The culmination of a long years' hard work.
The Dance Recital...or as we call it here 'Concert'.
Many a new Dance Mum wonders what the blazes she's got herself in to for the first few rounds of Concert. It's busy, crazy busy. It's tiring. And it's expensive. Dancing, I think, is only third down the list from Dressage and Tennis in terms of investment of money, if you're into it in any sort of half serious way.
I didn't dance as a child, so I was hellishly unprepared for the roundabout of rehearsals, costume fittings and last minute notices saying 'Babsy MUST even up the ends of her double satin bows in her hair for 'Swingin' on a Star', and needs new shimmer tights for 'It's a Hard Knock Life! Also...more makeup!'.
They're kids, not warriors or child courtesans, right?
Here's a few hints and tips that have lessened our load over the years.
1. Budget for dance concert. Now this might seem painfully obvious, but most families I know, just don't do it. This means a horrendous outlay, just weeks before Christmas in most cases. Depending upon your dance studio, most costumes cost between $50 and $150 each. So if Babsy is engaging in most styles of dance ie. Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and perhaps Contemporary, Hip Hop, Lyrical and Musical Theatre, and a Special Interest item like a Comedy Cabaret one or the Can Can which doesn't fit any of the other categories, you're up for anything from $450 - $1500. Don't' laugh. You know it's true. So for most families, it's the Fantastic Plastic at this time of year AKA 'whacking it on the Credit Card'. Not this little black duck. NOOOOOO way. It's a direct debit into our Costumes account, from January 1 onwards for us. No matter whether it's $10 a week or $50 a week, it means the money is there.
2. Budget for additional expenses over dress rehearsals and performances. Yes you can get all righteous and take all your own food, and in fact we mostly do these days as The Diva and I both eat gluten free due to sensitivities. But it's hard to not cave in to a decent cuppa or some hot chips, and that might mean for 5 or 6 days or nights in a row. There's also parking expenses as many performance venues are in city areas, so toss those into the mix. And usually you'll want a photo or two taken by the pro photographer so factor in $10ish per shot there. Realistically, you're looking at anything from $10-$50 a day, and that's conservative.
3. Be organised. Don't be the Mum racing around trying to find size 5C ballet shoes, the day before concert. Give yourself time and source these well ahead of time. With any luck, you can source some of your costume extras on eBay or in the second hand boxes at dance supply stores if you get in early enough.
4. Don't spoil it for yourself. Don't watch every single rehearsal. Leave some surprises for Concert night. If you've seen it all before, it's not nearly as exciting.
5. Make sure your dancer gets plenty of rest. Most kids have at least one meltdown somewhere along the way, but early nights, where possible, make a difference for all of you. And that means early nights for you too!
6. I've found the cheap $2 costume bags to be utterly useless. A sturdy garbage bag is far more durable and keeps your costume clean and tidy. We find the scented pink ones perfect for this purpose. Cut the handles off neatly, and no-one even realises that they're in fact rubbish bags. The stiff black ones used for larger rubbish collection are great too, but not as pretty. You can of course, make your own from recycled sheets or fabric. All you need is two rectangles stitched together at the sides, and along the top, leaving an opening for the hanger neck to poke through.
7. A mesh lingerie bag is perfect to loop over the hangers for accessories and shoes. It keeps everything together, and you can see what's inside.
8. Attach a photo of your dancer in costume to each hanger as a reminder of what's inside the bag, and how it's to be worn. A list of everything contained in each costume bag and lingerie hold all, is useful as a checklist at the end of the performance for all dancers, young and old. Replacing a hand made fascinator at the eleventh hour is not usually something greeted with enthusiasm or grace by the costume seamstresses.
9. Take low GI snacks. And make sure they're white or have as little colour in them as possible. For two reasons. You don't want your dancer on a junk food high, and if they have a spill, you don't want stains on your costumes! Rice bubble bars, plain risotto (in insulated containers), apples, green grapes, nuts and seeds, plain rice crackers and yoghurt in squishy pouches, are all good choices.
10. Take a deep breath and enjoy! It's magical to see your baby up there doing their thang. Have a ball and make sure you get a DVD! It's a moment in time that you'll never have again and you'll want to relive it in years to come.