a group of young girls posing on stage wearing bright yellow ballet dress

Dance Studio Concert Do’s and Don’ts

The opportunity to perform in a concert is an exciting, empowering and confidence-building part of the training process. Teachers love to watch students learn about the theatre, rehearsals and teamwork and students are so excited to have opportunity to showcase their skills in a professionally run production.

Here are a few tips about what to expect leading up to your studio’s concert and what is expected of your dancer on the day itself.

Dancers work hard all year to perfect their technique and then to learn and refine a performance piece for the big show. The last few weeks of class are extremely important and dancers should do their best to attend all classes. Teachers will be expecting that the dancers know the choreography and will be fixing the fine details. This requires a lot of concentration and focus from the students. In class, dancers need to listen to all corrections even if the teacher hasn’t mentioned their name, specifically.

If costumes are sent home with the students before the show, they must be kept hanging and clean. Usually a studio will provide instructions on the care of costumes. It is helpful if all tights, shoes and accessories can be kept with the costume as well.

Dress rehearsal is exactly what it sounds like: a rehearsal in “dress” ie: in costume. Usually hair and makeup are also required at dress rehearsal. This is where teachers get to see the costumes working on stage in a group so the dancers look their best. Teachers can then make any adjustments needed and ensure that everyone has time to get ready between their dances. The director can see if any costumes are missing hairpieces or need to be fixed in any way or if any changes need to be made to music or show order.

Having a dress rehearsal gives all of the dancers a chance to get up and rehearse on stage—a very different environment than they are used to within the studio walls. This can help them overcome some of the jitters that may hit and really prepare themselves for the show ahead. It is a fun and rewarding experience and a great chance to be with friends and watch some inspiring dancers as they wait for their own turn in the spotlight.

At dress rehearsal and on show day, you may be given a “Call time”. This means the time the dancers are supposed to report to the theater. This is usually anywhere from ½ hour to and hour before the show to allow for everyone to get settled in his/her dressing room and to change into costume.

Costumes should not be worn in the car on the way to rehearsal—this ensures that they don’t get wrinkled, ripped or otherwise damaged on the way. Underclothes can be worn under the dancer’s warm ups – tights, leos, etc. Underwear however is not required under a dance dress or leo or if they are they should be plain, and match the color of the leotard or tights so that they don’t show under the costume.

Each dancer should bring a labeled dance bag to put all tights and other under clothes, hair accessories, warm ups, water, and a healthy non-messy snack (no chocolate or greasy fried foods) and is responsible for keeping it all organized during the show and for taking it all home after.  

Backstage, dancers should be very quiet and respectful of the other dancers that are performing. Older dancers should help out the younger dancers so everyone feels confident and secure. Dancers should locate the dressing rooms, bathrooms and water fountains when they arrive in case they need to find them during the show. It’s good to bring warm ups to wear over your costumes: leg warmers, slippers, jackets—it can be chilly backstage!

Different studios have different policies about where students should be during the show and usually parents are expected to stay in the audience or “house”, not backstage.  Volunteers will keep track of all students backstage. Some studios allow students to watch from the audience when they are not dancing and other studios require all students to stay backstage until the show is over. Sometimes there are monitors backstage that show the performance, so dancers can still see the other pieces in the concert.

The traditional gift at a dance concert is flowers. Some studios may provide flowers for sale in the lobby while others may offer online ordering of flowers. No need for a bouquet of roses, though. A couple of carnations can say “Bravo!” just as well.

The most important thing to remember for dancers and family members is that a dance concert should be an exciting, fun experience. Everyone reacts to the day differently and no one should be pressured to be perfect. It’s a team effort. The goal, especially for the youngest dancers, is to have a positive successful first experience on stage. I always tell dancers that when they dance in a concert, they are giving the audience a gift and the audience doesn’t know what’s in the box. So if it doesn’t go exactly as planned it is okay. They should just keep dancing with energy and confidence until the end. They’ll know it was a good performance when they hear the applause at the end.