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Preparing for a Dance Competition

Updated on April 5, 2009

Count Down to a Ballroom Dance Competition

I am specifically talking about a Ballroom Dance competition but I suspect the same basic steps will work for any type of dance competition be it ballet or tap dance! Now I am assuming that you are doing your normal routine of classes and rehearsals so this just the "extras" list!

6 Weeks Before The Dance Competition

  • Double check the events that you are eligible for.

  • Double check the dances in those events: do you have apropriate routines, do you have to use restricted syllabus steps?
  • What's the entry date and conditions e.g. do you have to pay for tickets when you enter.

  • Is your dancer's registration up to date?

1 Month before the Dance Competition

  • Enter the competition - most competitions have an entry date about 1 month or 3 weeks in advance, but major competitions may have a longer lead time.

  • Check the dress standards: street dress, competition dress, if dress is optional check that your partner and you have both decided on competition wear or not!

  • You should have all the routines for all the dances that you are going to dance in the competition sorted out by now. Especially in ballroom you should also have "escape clauses" - you rarely get to dance solo on the floor so make sure you have alternatives if your routine takes a lot of space and on the day you might have to deal with a crowded floor.
  • If you don't know the venue try to find out about it - someone else who has competed there perhaps? Find out the shape of the floor - most dance floors are rectangular but a square or even circular floor is not unknown and it is a little different especially for standard dances, though it does make the Viennese easier to dance.

IDSF Goldstadtpokal Latin Ballroom Dance Championship 2007

1 Week before a Dance Competition

  • Get your hair cut or colored if necessary - don't leave this for the last minute!

  • Practice any new hair style you are contemplating especially hair pieces and ornaments - on the day is not a good time to find that the new bobby pins fall out - ideally dance in it - it's amazing what doesn't stick when you try it on the quickstep.

  • Practice your makeup too if you haven't done it for a while or are trying something different - again particularly anything that can fall off: eyelashes, diamante, finger nails

3 Days Before the Competition

  • Lets face it Ballroom dancing is one of the few places where white Caucasians are actively discriminated against! You really will look washed out under lights if you have a fair complexion and the easiest way to deal with it is fake tan. The only way to know if a particular product will work for you (and stay off your cloths) is to try it so hopefully you know what you are using. If like me you need 2 to 3 coats tonight is good night to start layer 1!

Day before a Competition

Or the day before you leave for a competition if you are traveling some distance.

  • Another coat of tan.
  • Check start times, door open times, make sure you have the paperwork: tickets, registration cards, directions to the venue if you haven't been there before.
  • Packing I am pretty paranoid about this so do it in advance!

The number one thing not to do - is practice - it will be awful if you do - I promise - you will nervous, stressed and probably end up arguing with your partner, it will do your confidence and your dancing no good at all - so don't do it - go out and have a drink, alcoholic, or 3 instead - at least you should sleep that way!

On the Day

  • Arrive in plenty of time.

  • Find your seat if pre-assigned - otherwise find a spot and claim it.

  • Check out the floor - how fast is it - will you routines fit
  • Get the program and check when your events are on - highlight them so you don't miss any - check that you have been correctly entered in what you want to dance, make any corrections with the floor marshall.
  • Collect your number from the number's table: usually the men but woman who are leading in novelty events might have to get a number too.
  • Check floor entrances/exits -you may be marshalled and have to enter from a certain spot, alternatively your event may just be called to the floor so think about where you prefer to start your routine.

  • Check out the change room - hang up dresses/suits if there is space.

  • Try to chill out - breathing helps
  • Have fun - remember you do this becauseyou enjoy it!

Packing List for a Dance Competition

  • shoes ballroom and latin, spare pairs if you have them
  • all costumes, remember to include underwear required. Men have the worst of this with all the bits that go with a ballroom shirt.

  • stockings and spares

  • Warm up clothing: tracksuits and/or cover up's for competition gear
  • all jewellery and hair pieces
  • hair brush, comb, hair spray, mousse, glue, gel

  • spare nails, spare eyelashes, glue

  • sewing kit
  • first aid kit: gel plaster kit, knee supports, paracetamol,bandaids, blister pads

  • registation cards, entry details, tickets any other paperwork
  • deodorant, make up remover

  • slippers - they are great when then shoes start to hurt!

  • small towel for sweat and for protecting clothing if you are eating
  • fan

  • water bottles and snacks


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    • profile image 7 years ago from Bournemouth Dorset U.K.



    • profile image

      Salsa Dancing 8 years ago

      breathmints work miracles for some people.

    • profile image

      gabi 8 years ago

      hiya great artical thanks for all of the advice it really helped me so i have just won three trophys because i took your advice!!!!

    • profile image

      granmuzzer 9 years ago

      Thanks for a very organized approach to preparing for a comp...

    • profile image

      nytclubber 9 years ago

      nice hub! it's very helpful as well. i think that the best way to win a competition is by preparing for it and that's exactly what you did for this post.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 10 years ago from New Zealand

      Yes excellent points Marissa - I have hooked earings into hair, and buckles to buckes together - not a good idea!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 10 years ago from Sydney

      Good luck in the comps, Lissie! I'd add to your list - make sure you rehearse a couple of times in FULL costume, not just part of it. I remember rehearsing in full costume except for my shawl. You guessed it, it was the shawl that let me down on the night.

      Also - check to make sure you've removed all jewellery that's not part of your costume before you walk on-stage. Like your watch, for instance!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Lizzie! Another great HUB.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 10 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks all for the lovely comments - the dress isn't mine I found the photo on a free photo sharing site - I'm too blonde to wear white (and too messy!). Now Caregiver that's not a past tense dancer - we have just decided to go back to competitive dancing next year after taking this year off. This hub has some photos of us in this hub Iguess I am going to have to figure out the technology to upload my own video! Its interesting Caregiver that there is a fair amount of evidence that dancing is very good for the elderly - whether its the social interaction, movement, or remembering the steps its very popular in Australia socially - especially New Vogue (a form of sequence dance) and line dance.

      Oh and EA I don't recommend combining scooter riding and dance comps- we've been known to have more luggage for a 2 day dance trip than for a 2 month holiday!

    • Caregiver-007 profile image

      Margaret Hampton 10 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub , Lissie. You must have been a dancer! Great dress, too. The videos make me want to dance again, too... It's been way too many years. I was entranced by the National Ballroom Dancing Competition that was on Mama's TV. Even in her advanced state of dementia, she recognized it, smiled, enjoyed!

    • profile image

      Abhinaya 10 years ago

      Lissie this is juuuuuuuuuuuust great!I love the dress and the way you have presented it- With a lot of warmth.Thumps up!Have you been a dancer?

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 10 years ago

      Wow Lissie!! A motorcycle riding ballroom dancer!! You continue to amaze!! I LOVE your dress!! The videos got me dancing again in my chair!! Thanks for sharing!! Do we get to see you on the floor soon?? Blessings, Earth Angel!!

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 10 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks Eileen, yes MrM we have jus started competing again after a break! My legs hurt!

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 10 years ago from Sydney

      Perhaps you maybe strutted the sideboards. You definitely know what you are talking about. Thank you

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Great interesting article. This should help the twinkle toe dancers. Not in that league. Good job