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6 Ways to Prepare for a Dance Competition

The days leading up to a dance competition are crucial to your success — and not just to the results you’ll receive but to the success of the entire day. Did you have fun? Did you learn something? Did you do your best? Do you want to compete again?

While it can feel like there are so many things to think about before you set the stage, here are some quality rituals to try as you head into a competition weekend.

1. Train as if it were a normal week

While it’s important to take classes and attend any regularly scheduled private lessons, try to keep the week leading up to a competition as normal as possible. What you don’t want to do is push yourself beyond normal limits and cause an injury. Stressing yourself out by adding on extra private lessons or getting less sleep than usual because you’re up late practicing are two no-no’s. As much as you can, operate as usual.

2. Take a trip to the store

I don’t know about you but I love a good Target trip, and taking one just before a comp weekend is the best. This is the time to get prepared! Stock up on all the essentials, like hairspray, eyelash glue, bobby pins, bandages, lipstick, snacks, and water. And of course, be sure to get a hefty stash of safety pins. You can also use this time to mentally disconnect from dancing, technique, and your choreography so you can set yourself up for success with all the behind-the-scenes moments. If your dance bag is stocked and organized, getting out on the stage will be that much easier. 

3. Watch your routine

If you’re performing a new routine, try recording it on your phone earlier in the week. Watching your routines at night before bed helps that muscle memory kick in. Make sure you have all your eight counts down, cues, or any changes that might have been made last minute. 

Watching yourself perform can also help you identify areas of improvement. Are you hitting your spots? Are your feet as pointed as you think they are? Just like football players watch film each week before a big game, we can learn a lot by watching our routines. 

4. Double, then triple check your dance bag

Okay, it’s the night before the competition. Even if it’s only 15 minutes from your house, check to make sure you have everything: All of your costume pieces, your shoes, your makeup, a change of clothes, and anything else you might need. Also, don’t forget to charge your AirPods so you can get in the zone before you perform.

5. Fuel, hydrate, and sleep

The night before a competition is undeniably important. Make it a priority to cook your favorite meal. No need to carbo-load or eat lightly — just choose something that you love and that you know will make you feel good. If you’re excited and you have a good mindset going into the day, you will succeed no matter what. 

Grab your Stanley (or favorite water bottle) and be sure to stay hydrated. If you have multiple routines, water breaks are the last thing you’ll remember to take during a busy competition day. As much as you can, try to hydrate the day before. 

Lastly, get to bed early and catch some proper z’s. Sure, you might feel butterflies in your stomach, but stick to your go-to nighttime routine so you can rest up.

6. Arrive early

You can never be too early to a competition. Arriving on the earlier side eliminates stress and gives you time to mingle with other dancers as well as familiarize yourself with the space. Make sure you locate the dressing rooms, backstage areas, bathrooms, and any other need-to-know spaces. Tip: Make sure to save some seats for your family so they can get the best views to support you! 

Prepping for a dance competition is not one-size-fits all, but these are some tried-and-true staples. If you have any other tips that you like to integrate, please let us know — we’re here to support dancers of all backgrounds. 

And remember, competitions are all about growing and learning as a dancer and as a person. No matter what the outcome is, you’re sure to gain something from the day.


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