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What to Expect During Your First Dance Competition

Let’s be honest—there are a lot of emotions you can face when going into your first dance competition.While it can feel exciting, it can also be really nerve-racking. There is a lot going on at competitions. There are other studios and dancers around, a full audience, a panel of judges, lots of bright lights, crowded backstage areas, and so much more. 

With that being said, partaking in your first competition is a pivotal moment in your dance career. Regardless of the outcome, competing will offer you a unique opportunity and experience that will yield lots of growth.

Here, we’re sharing some basic elements of how a typical dance competition day (or weekend) can run.

Competition Schedule

A week or two prior, you will receive a schedule and location for your competition. NOTE: your performance could be scheduled early in the morning, mid afternoon or in the night session. Best to block the entire day until you get your call time. 

Arriving at the Theater

Lots of people, different studios or schools, parents, teachers, assistants, competition coordinators, vendors, and more. It is busy! It can be difficult to know where to go or find your fellow teammates. Be sure to ask your teacher before comp weekend where the meeting location is. Oftentimes your dressing room is the best spot to meet and will be backstage or in a room separate from the actual theater and stage. 

Dressing Rooms & Backstage Areas

More people! And more dancers! Try not to get distracted in these areas. It is easy to start comparing yourself to other dancers who are practicing or a costume that is similar to yours. Remain in the zone. If you need to put in your airpods to stay focused or hang outside instead, do what is best for you! 

Time to Take the Stage

An announcer will call the routine, the title of your dance and welcome you to take the stage. Shortly after your music will start and it is showtime. Typically you will have performed in a recital or other performance that is not competitive so you have an idea of what it is like to be on stage. But if you haven’t, don't be scared. Being on stage, doing what you love is one of the best feelings in the world. It can be dark, bright lights that make it hard to see the judges or the audience but don’t let this scare you. Pretend you are back in the classroom, performing in front of a mirror! If your music skips or stops, just keep going. The crowd will cheer you on and your muscle memory will kick in. Although this is rare, it can happen and best to be prepared!

Award Ceremony

After all routines have performed, there will be an awards ceremony. They will give out awards based on age group and category. The awards are so fun. This is time for you to sit with your group, reminisce about the amazing day, laugh about silly things that went wrong and support each other during the results. 

Get Ready for Next Comp

That is a wrap on the weekend! Go home, relax, stretch and eat a good meal! Comp weekends can be long, exhausting and hard on your body. Find time to rehab your body and identify any injuries that may have come up. Get some sleep and don’t forget to wash that makeup off before bed! Now that it is over, it is not uncommon to have little down time and before you know it, it is time to get ready for the next one. I highly recommend keeping a journal. Write down your favorite memories from the weekend and set goals for the next competition! 

TIP: If you’ve never competed before, I highly recommend going to a competition a few weeks prior to your first! If there is another local studio in your area, ask what their competition schedule is and attend one to see first hand what it is like. Seeing the environment in a casual setting is a sure way to calm the nerves! 


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