We are only three weeks away (barely) from this year's dance recital, and I think we are all starting to feel the excitement and stress that comes with this annual ritual. Our studio had dance pictures last weekend, and we can purchase them this coming week. I'm especially excited to see how Elliott's pictures turned out. He needs a more recent professional picture. He and I also had one taken together in our Sesame Street costumes, so I'm definitely going to get a copy of that!
In my classes, we have been discussing what things we bring to the recital each year to make the day go smoothly and to feel more comfortable. Those of us in the dance company and in certain classes have to be at all three shows of the recital. Company opens and closes the pre-school show at 11, and we are there to help with the 2 o'clock show and keep the show more interesting. The 7 o'clock show is our official time to shine, when all of the upper levels perform. It's a long day, but we really love it.
I carry all of my shoes and costumes in a laundry basket, and everything else goes in my large Thirty-One tote (the one with the pockets on the outside and a zipper). I also bring a cooler for drinks, food, and ice packs.
Here is what will be in my recital bag this year:
Obviously, I'll have all of my costumes, but there is more than meets the eye on each dancer. Because of many of the fast changes, we have a lot of pieces that allow for modesty in a public changing area, or support (for injuries or other body parts):
- Black or nude leotard
- Body foundation (some call these "body tights." They have clear straps and look kind of like overalls made of tights...)
- Nude bra and underwear (mine are made for dancers from Capezio)
- Extra pair of suntan and pink tights (even though I'm not wearing pink tights this year, my students are and these are a just in case item)
- Knee pads: Mine are tan colored and more like a sleeve than normal knee pads. They go under the tights and stay on through the whole recital. They also provide skeletal support for my knees.
- School t-shirts: I have a shirt for our dance company, and our class has special shirts made every year. This way I have something clean to change into during the breaks.
- Change of clothing for after: The adults all go out for a drink after the recital, so I want something nice to wear out. This includes regular undergarments.
Even in a school with air conditioning, it gets hot at the recital. A lot of my toiletries are either make-up or items to feel cleaner and cooler during the day:
- Make-up: I don't go crazy with make-up. I use a liquid foundation and a powder to refresh the look. I use a little bronzer or blush, purple eye shadow and liner, mascara, and plum lipstick. I use purples because it helps make my brown eyes pop. I use plum lipstick because the pinks don't look great on me. We don't have strict rules at our studio about make-up, but you should definitely make sure you have the details from your studio before you go out and buy anything.
- Baby powder: My mom used to pack this every year for my sister and I, and I scoffed until we used a school that not only lacked air conditioning, but almost seemed to generate additional heat. It was humid and horrible, and you can bet I covered myself in baby powder. I put it under my tights to help things move easily and under my bra.
- Hair stuff: Again, this all depends on your studio. Most of our dances require a ponytail, but some ask for hair to be down. We all braid our bangs and front of our hair to keep it out of our faces. I keep lots of bobby pins, hairspray, hair wax, hair ties, and a straightener on hand, as well as a brush and comb. Be sure to understand what your studio requires!
- Sewing kit: Costumes may rip or tights may run. I carry safety pins, a small sewing kit, and clear nail polish to help negotiate emergencies.
- Cleansers: It's nice to take off all of my make-up part way through the day and start fresh for the second show, so I carry face cleanser, eye make-up remover, a washcloth, and a towel to get a clean start.
Again, it's a realllllly long day. Without going overboard, I like to have some creature comforts on hand.
- Blanket: This can be a good picnic blanket (for a outdoor lunch) or a nap blanket. When I was a kid, our dressing rooms were usually locker rooms, so a blanket made the bench more comfortable.
- Cooler: This is not the day to eat too little. I bring snacks, extra water, ice packs, and any other items to keep my energy up.
- Meds: Aside from the obvious pain relievers and band-aids, I also carry eye drops in case the make-up bothers my eyes.
- Chargers: Phone charger, camera charger, iPod charger. Be sure your electronics won't run out of energy either.
- Bring Extras: If you have extra tights in the right color or extra leotards, bring them. You never know if you'll have a wardrobe malfunction!
- Label Everything: Make sure everything has your name on it. Consider the fact that you and about 15 other girls (at least) will be sharing a space for the day. You all have at least a few costumes in common. All of your shoes look the same. You don't want someone walking off with your stuff by accident, so put your name in whatever you can. With all black shoes, use gaffers tape on the inside.
- Remember Theatre Manners: Stay out of the wings until your dance is up. Stay quiet near the stage. Listen to the stage manager and backstage helpers. Pay attention. Don't play with props that don't belong to you.
- Pack Patience: Recital day is the culmination of everyone's hard work. Everyone, no matter how they decide to show it, is probably a little nervous or stressed. Be polite to everyone and just take a deep breath when things seem crazy. Teachers, parents, and students have invested a lot of time (and money) into the day, and they all have high expectations. I'm in each of those categories, and the day has the potential to be crazy in trying to be all three at once.
That's a lot of information! It's a big day, and the best thing you can do is be prepared.
Have a wonderful recital! I'll post an update in June on how it all goes.