Concert season is here and with it comes costumes, glitz and glam, many many emails and pre-performance butterflies! To ensure your experience is a positive one, it’s important to be organised. Here are a few life hacks to take your concert day organisation to the next level and help your time at the theatre run smoothly.
CHECKLISTS: Main St Funk will send you a concert day kit list shortly (most dance schools will do this but if they don’t, make your own.) It should include absolutely everything you will need on concert day from costume items, stockings, hair pieces and more. Print this off and cross off each item as you pack them. Pack everything the night before or even a few days before to ensure the morning of your concert is not a mad scavenger hunt. It’s a good idea to have a list of your dances in order, refer to this as you pack and take it with you to the theatre so that you always know what you’re doing next.
PACK YOUR COSTUMES IN A TUB, IN SEPARATE SNAPLOCK BAGS AND IN ORDER: Buy a box of extra large snaplock/sandwich bags next time you are at the supermarket. Neatly pack each costume (in its entirety) into its own snaplock bag. Once you know your concert dance order, label each bag “1, 2 or 3”. Stick a checklist (more lists!) of that costume on the front of the snaplock bag so that you know what needs to go in there and what needs to come out. Use a tub instead of a bag to store all of your costumes. This will mean you can neatly pile your snaplock bags into the tub in order of the show. Your last dance will be on the bottom and your first dance on top. This will save you from emptying and rummaging through your bag during the backstage rush!
SPARES: You can never have too many spares! Have a backup of everything where possible but in particular; dance stockings/tights. These tear easily, especially when you are in a rush so make sure you have an extra pair. Check that your spare does not have any holes or rips before you pack them – don’t waste time putting on a pair of tights only to have to take them off again. For younger students, it’s a great idea to pack a spare pair of underwear as well. Nerves can do funny things to our bodies and minds, so it is good to be prepared for little accidents. Even if little accidents are not typical of your child!
PIN + UNPIN: Safety pins and bobby pins are your best friend on concert day. Buy them in bulk and pack them ALL. Then pack some more! You can never have too many. Most costumes include a hat or headpiece that will need to be securely pinned to your head. Before packing your headpiece, attach about 6 bobby pins to it. This will mean you won’t be rummaging around for pins between dances. Do this for ALL of your headpieces. If there is an item of your costume that needs to be safety pinned, such as an accessory or a strap, pin it into place before concert day. This means you can just get dressed without needing to fiddle and adjust your costume. When you come off stage, start unpinning headpieces, straps etc. as you walk calmly back to the dressing room.
SHOES: Firstly, don’t forget to pack them! It is both laughable and frightening how easily performers forget about their shoes. Wear your hip hop sneakers to the theatre, one less thing to pack! Replace your laces with black elastic, this means you can easily slip your shoes on and off quickly. For little kids, label shoes left and right to save confusion. BONUS TIP: Ballet dancers, clean your ballet shoes with pink calamine lotion (yes, the stuff you use for chicken pox) to make your shoes look brand new and scuff free for the concert.
STAY CALM AND STAY IN YOUR ZONE: On concert day we need to move quickly, quietly and calmly. The dressing room can become a crowded and noisy place so it is important to stay focused and move with a sense of urgency. Panic is contagious, so if one person starts to yell or run, soon the whole class will be in a flap. Don’t waste your energy on getting worked up about finding your shoes or costume item or headpiece, you know that it is packed into your allocated snap lock bag. That square on the floor where you’ve placed your tub is your zone! The minute you start overflowing into someone else’s zone, that’s when things get lost. Keep your items contained and pack up as you go. What comes out of a bag must go back in. This means that you will be just as organised and prepared for your second concert as you were for your first AND it will make for a quick exit at the end of a long day.
TIME: Always know what your call time to the theatre is and then aim to be early. Allow time for traffic, accidents, getting lost on the way to somewhere new and finding a park.
RELAX, BUT NOT YET: Even if you have a long time between dances, don’t sit down until you are ready and organised for your next item. This will allow for little mix-ups, like if you have misplaced an item or you need help to pin something. You don’t want to be doing those things in a mad rush right before you hit the stage. Also, you never know what could happen on concert day. Your dance teachers may need to you to take to the stage earlier than expected, always be prepared!
WORK AS A TEAM: At Main St Funk we use the buddy system to promote teamwork, independence and to help take the pressure off. Never think twice about helping your friend into or out of their costume and never think twice about asking for help. Be there for each other. Team work makes the dream work.
PRACTICE: Practice your choreography before you hit the stage to ensure you are performing with full confidence! You can also practice your stage makeup and concert day hair leading up to the show. Each time you do it, the better you will get.
At the end of the day, performing is supposed to be fun and a celebration of all of your hard work. While preparing and organising yourself before the show might seem tedious and boring it will ensure that you have a fabulous time at the concert. We don’t want to taint your time at the theatre with the stress of a forgotten costume or arriving late. Also, remember that no matter how prepared you are, sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Take a deep breath, shoulders back and know that the show will go on.
Main St Funk wishes you the most wonderful concert season full of checklists, snaplock bags, sparkles and lots of smiling faces.
Stay tuned for your concert day kitlists and call times, thank you for being organised!
Teacher at the end of class: “Make sure you practice!” Student: “Yeah, right. When?”
“Practice” – It’s a daunting word. What comes to mind when your dance teacher suggests that you practice at home? A montage of sweat and tears? A marathon of turns and leaps that never ends? Hours upon hours of hard work that leaves you feeling sore and defeated? Actually, when your teacher suggests that you practice at home, that’s not what they mean.
Most dance teachers recognize that students, just like them, have a life full of action and activities outside of dance and trying to fit in yet another responsibility in your week can be stressful. Your dance teachers are also well-educated and passionate about the benefits that can come from practicing at home. Students who practice are generally more confident in class and on stage. It means they can have a more progressive year of dancing because instead of having to “re-learn” what they learnt in the previous class, they can move forward, on to the next step or skill. They can work on refining their technique and performance skills instead of spending class time trying to remember the choreography AND the more you practice, the faster your muscle memory develops, meaning you will pick up new dances quicker and remember them more than if you weren’t practicing at all.
So, how can we fit dance practice (outside of our scheduled class time) into our weeks?
If you can practice every single day of the week that’s great. But, not realistic or sustainable and actually, not really beneficial as our bodies and brains would soon become burnt out and fatigued. Sit down and look at your schedule and decide on a realistic expectation that you can set for yourself. Perhaps you can practice three times a week? A Sunday afternoon when you have lots of free time, after school on a night when you don’t have to rush off to another activity and maybe one night right before bed? Remember that you don’t need to spend hours at a time practicing. Think about how much time you actually spend on your routine in class. Once you take away a warm up, technique work and skills, a cool down, that leaves about 20-30 minutes for choreography. So if you can manage three 20 minute practices a week, you are already doing an extra hour of dancing! It’s a good idea to squeeze in a quick practice right after your dance class, while the choreography is fresh in your head and right before dance class, so that you can progress on to the next block of choreography quickly.
BREAK IT UP:
Practicing a whole routine, remembering every step and finding corrections for yourself sounds like a daunting process. Why not break your dance up into sections and practice one bit at a time? Perhaps there is a part of your dance that is particularly challenging for you, focus on that until you feel confident with it and only then, move on to the next section. You don’t even have to practice specific choreography. Perhaps there is a tricky turn, skill or just one transition that you need to work on. It’s amazing how everything can fall into place once you have jumped over one hurdle.
VISUALIZE & LISTEN:
This one is especially good for those weeks when your body is sore and exhausted from all of your other activities. Or perhaps you are run down and not well enough to exert all of your energy dancing. Pop your headphones in and listen to your song. Close your eyes and imagine yourself doing the steps. Also, imagine your classmates with you so that you can remember your choreography and formations in relation to your teammates. Visualizing yourself performing on stage in costume and under the lights is a great way to reignite your passion for a piece of choreography that might be becoming stale or “boring” as you have been working on it for a few months. Picture what you want to look like when you are on stage in front of your family and friends. What does your performance face look like? Practice this in front of a mirror! Or a friend if you are feeling brave. Just listening to your song over and over without any added distractions can help you understand the musicality better, which is important for timing and unison in a group dance. Next time you’re in class, ask your teacher for a copy of the music or the title and artist so that you can have it at home. You can listen to your song on the way to school, while you are doing chores or just in your down time.
WRITE THINGS DOWN:
It’s understandable if from time to time you get home from dancing and think “What did we do??”. Take a notebook into class and write down keywords or new things that you learn so that when you are practicing you can jog your memory. Make note of any corrections your teacher gives to you personally or to the whole class. Ask the teacher if there is anything specific they think you need to work on. Write it down in a way that you will understand. Write down the things that you think you are awesome at as well and practice those too!
So now that you can remember all of the steps to your choreography. That means there is no point to practicing right? ….Wrong! There is always something to work on. Why not film yourself performing your choreography and then sit back and watch. Sometimes dancing can look so much different than what it feels like. You might notice you aren’t fully straightening your legs and stretching your feet and ankles even though it feels like you are. Or if you’re a hip hopper, maybe it’s the opposite and you are not bending your knees and dancing into the ground as much as you thought. Make some notes about what you see. What do you do well? What can you work on? Imagine you are the teacher and you are correcting your student. What would you tell them?
Like any good habit, practicing will take time to work into your routine and the more you do it, the better you will get at it. Everybody has a different learning process so find the method that fits your lifestyle and learning style best. When you practice, tell people! The encouragement and good feedback you will receive, will fuel you to keep practicing AND that energy is contagious, it will encourage your teammates to practice too.
There is no right or wrong way to practice your dancing at home and your dancing can only get better if you give it a go! We challenge you all to apply these 6 tips to your practicing schedule and get ready to watch your dancing sky rocket! What have you got to lose?
By Chloe Jobson: A chronic nagger who can often be found rocking back and fourth uttering the words “please practice” over and over.
The word “no” is usually associated with negativity and disappointment. However, at Main St Funk there are ten “no’s ” that help create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere that makes MSF a little bit unique.
So, here are the “Ten Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Know About Main St Funk And They All Start With ‘No’”. (Try to say that ten times fast!)
NO ADDITIONAL COSTUME FEES: We understand that the cost of kids’ activities can add up, so we endeavour to make participating in dance as accessible as possible. At Main St Funk, all costume fees are included in your term-by-term tuition, so you don’t pay anything extra at the end of the year. This is great for big families, students who want to take lots of classes and anyone who likes to plan their budget.
NO SEWING: All embellishments, sequins and altering is done by the MSF team.
NO AUDITIONS: Main St Funk are proud to be inclusive – the only prerequisite is that you must LOVE to dance! We do have a committed competition crew and while it is common practice for dance schools to hold auditions for their comp teams, Main St Funk welcome any keen students to join their crew as long as they can be a dedicated team player.
NO FAVOURITISM: Main St Funk dancers work hard and while some students may display more natural talent, it is important to acknowledge the hard work and effort of ALL of the dancers. All of the MSF kids are given a turn in the front row and a moment to shine.
NO PARENTS IN THE CONCERT DRESSING ROOM: Yes, you read that correctly. Main St Funk have a “no parents backstage” policy. Don’t worry though, all of the younger students are buddied up with an older student who looks after them backstage. MSF are pretty proud of this buddy system. It teaches independence, responsibility and team work and ensures that every single parent gets to sit in the audience and see their child shine on stage.
NO EXCLUSIVITY: Main St Funk attend a number of community events throughout the year. These are always a fantastic opportunity for the MSF kids to gain experience dancing in front of an audience and in a casual environment. These events are always an open invite to all of the MSF kids. It is a great way for the students to bond with their classmates and to feel like they are an integral part of our dancing community (which they are!).
NO BULLYING: Main St Funk prides itself on the friendly, family & inclusive nature of its classes. Main St Funk have a ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying. MSF teach their students about respect, team work and treating their classmates as equals. We are all friends at Main St Funk – dancing is our happy place.
NO EXAMS: While learning a syllabus and completing a dance exam definitely has its benefits, the aim at Main St Funk is to provide a quality dance education where students progress at their own pace without the added stress of deadlines, exam scores and report cards.
NO INAPPROPRIATE MATERIAL: Main St Funk have a strict policy on ensuring that all song choices, choreography and costume designs are appropriate for the age of the students in their classes as well as the members of the audience. MSF is a family orientated dance school and work towards a standard that ensures that all students, whether they are minis, teenagers or adults, feel comfortable in what they are performing and wearing. Main St Funk keep up with the latest trends without crossing any boundaries. It is all good family fun (or FUNK!) at Main St Funk.
NO WORRIES: At MSF we LOVE dance, and all of these “no’s” are in place so all of our students can experience the joys and benefits of dancing. It’s as simple as that. Come and experience why all of these “no’s” are why so many kids and parents say “YES” to dancing at Main St Funk.
Doesn’t that sound like MAGIC!? Like all things magic though, you have to see it to believe it.