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My daughter is new to dance conventions and competitions. She’s 7. We recently had a meeting about all of the information we would need to know about upcoming events. New parents like myself were given tips from dance teachers and fellow Moms. I am wondering what in the world I have signed up for. I was told that my daughter needs to wear bright colors, fancy hair or a big bow, make sure she dances in the front, get special dancewear that you can’t buy just anywhere, lists of where to buy custom leotards, etc. I left there with my head spinning, feeling like I had landed in my version of Dance Moms. So in my effort to research this madness, we seem to have signed up for, I found your site, and here I am hoping to get some objective advice that I don’t need to dress my daughter a certain way, have her push her way to the front (which I’m pretty sure she would not do) and insist that she be the next Miss Dance America – is that even a thing? Oh, wait, it probably is. In all seriousness, what should I expect, and is all this orchestrated stuff necessary to get my child noticed? She just wants to dance, stay in a hotel and swim in the pool with her friends. – We’re Just Here To Dance
Dear We’re Just Here To Dance,
Welcome to the dance competition world! First things first, take a deep breath and know that you do not have to orchestrate anything when attending a dance convention. Secondly, thank you for providing me with a good chuckle because we have all been given or read tips on how to make sure our dancing darlings stand out, get noticed, win a scholarship and the list goes on. Here is my suggestion to you. Let her wear something she is comfortable in – have her pick out what she is going to wear each day. If she likes bright colors and typically wears those things to dance, then awesome; let her pick out her favorite things to wear. If buying something new is something you’d like to do, then that’s great too. It doesn’t have to be custom-made. She should be excited about the weekend and not feel like there is a list of things she has to do to be successful. The success is having your dancer say at the end of the weekend, that was fun; I want to do that again. Depending on your daughter’s personality, the convention experience can be a bit overwhelming, so the goal should be to make her as comfortable as possible – an outlandish hairstyle or a giant bow on top of her head if she doesn’t normally wear bows, is going to be distracting to her while she is there doing what you have paid for her to do – dance. Typically, dancers hang with their fellow dance friends where they are comfortable – for some, that means front and center; for others, the middle; and for some, the back, where there is more space. Putting pressure on her to wear certain things, stand in a specific spot, and tell her to get noticed would be overwhelming for most children. Go into convention weekends talking about how fun it is going to be to spend time with friends, dance, learn new things from awesome teachers, and perform her dances if she is competing. Keep it light and fun, and I guarantee she will be ready to do it again. Oh, and guess what, you were right; Miss Dance America is a thing. 🙂 -Angie