I never thought I’d be a “dance mom”. My girls have ALWAYS loved to dance just like their mama [yes I danced for almost 15 years through my childhood + into my teen years on my high school dance team] but if you had told me I’d be ALL in with competitions and such, I would’ve laughed in your face.
So first things first, how did we get here? Well, both Caroline and Carson started dance at 3 years old… just the same as me. We began with the classic ballet cuteness just to see if they took any interest. Much to my [and Mimi’s delight] they both loved it and we danced at a small studio in Franklin. Once Caroline started kindergarten, she began to show more interest in gymnastics and Carson said if sissy wasn’t taking dance, she didn’t want to either. So then we moved to gymnastics… long story short, CC stayed in gymnastics for 3 more years, but Carson soon decided dance was more her jam and she started dancing at Roots Dance Academy back in 2018.
After her first year, our director Saskia told me Carson definitely showed potential and I should think about having her try out for the company competition team. But of course my little nugget had a mind of her own and said she didn’t want to, so we decided to stick with two classes and leave it at that. I think once she saw what the company teams were able to do, she instantly came begging to try out for the next season.
So in the summer of 2020, she tried out for the Roots Competition Team and made it! I cannot say enough great things about how much she las learned–not only in dance, but in being a friend, a cheerleader for her teammates and other life lessons that will stick with her for years to come.
With that, I asked you all what you wanted to know about being all in as a dance mom and competition dance family so that’s exactly what we are chatting today:
She started competing at age 7. She made the team the summer before after a week long camp/intensive auditions and then they practiced for 6 solid months before her first dance competition the spring of 2021 to her first routine called Beep Beep [the costume up above and goodness it was GREAT].
Depending on your studio, you can compete in as many competitions at any given year as you wish, though Roots has us compete in a total of 6 during the season. We started at DanceMakers back in January [which is a convention and competition for select dancers] and then we will complete the season in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at Showstopper Nationals in July!
The time commitment was something we talked about as a family well before we decided to join the competiton team. I knew it was going to be a lot for Carson, so we took our time before making that final decision, but once she started, she absolutely fell in love and has absolutely found her passion. She dances a total 8-10 hours each week over the span of 4 days… in addition, additional practices + rehearsals sometimes come into play to ensure we are ready before each competition so that schedule does change quite a bit, depending on routine changes, etc.
To be honest, it’s a lot. It helps that I have a very flexible schedule and can usually schedule appts/meetings/photoshoots/events during the day so my nights are mostly free to take her to dance + Caroline to violin/dance/art. But sometimes, I have to call in reinforcement from Jeff and/or Mimi and I’m lucky that I carpool with my friend Megan to make things easier as well… remember it takes a village so I’ve learned how to ask for help when I need it!
When we start a competition season, you are assigned dances… based on your level, the ones you qualified for, preferences, etc. You then work with a Roots mentor to figure out the theme/idea/type of dance you are going to have for that year and then song mixes are finished, costumes are selected, and the choreography starts. Carson started working on her solo in September and had it “stage ready” in early December with weekly rehearsals, with lots of practice at home as well. She will dance her solo, her mini team group dance, hip hop line, and big lines dances at all competitions now through nationals in late June.
Just like any sport, competitive dance comes with lots and lots of expenses. Having said that, I learned early on about certain investments that make life easier when traveling + setting up shop at dance competitions and I’m so glad a fellow dance mom told me about the genius Glam’r Gear Bag.
Basically, it’s a giant hard sided duffel bag on wheels that acts as the best suitcase ever… complete with lots of compartments for storing everything you need while also acting as a dressing room as well.
There are tons of the additional accessories you can purchase on their website and these are the ones I highly recommend: Clear Garment Bags [one outfit for each bag to keep all apparel, accessories, etc together], Hanging LED Mirror [essential for makeup touchups], and the Bag Protector/Cover [I just ordered so I can easily check for flights].
Obviously, this question is a great follow-up to the one asked above. I use packing cubes for Carson’s dance clothes, undies/pajamas, etc that way I can pack them into the Glam’r Gear Bag, but still keep things organized.
I also recommend getting a cute onesie so they can wear these over their costumes [to avoid any stains in between performances, zips up so it won’t mess up their makeup + hair ] and she got these fuzzy slippers that have been a fun style to sport, too.
Other necessities not to forget include the following: snacks + water, extra change of clothes, dance studio jacket, chargers, playing cards, blanket to sit on [sometimes event locations floors are cement], and of course the ever popular tool kit.
Within that tool kit, here are the items we always have on hand for any and all emergencies that may arise:
Dance Mom Packing Essentials:
This could take an entire post of its own… let me tell you!! But I know you’re here for the high level, the essentials that I cannot live without when it comes to dance competition makeup and at least my career can come to play in some capacity… haha! Here is the play-by-play of items I use on the regular for Carson’s stage makeup routine:
Makeup Primer | Foundation | Setting Powder | Bronzer | Blush | Highlighter | Eyebrow Pencil | Eyeliner + Cat Eye Stamp | Eyeshadow Sticks | Mascara | Lash Glue + False Eyelashes | Lipliner | Lipstick | Setting Spray
Now I am not sure if I can classify myself as a false lash expert by any means, but I’ve definitely learned a few tricks of the trade to apply them easily with little to no effort and have them stay put all day AND night.
First things first, start with Demi Wispies from Ardell. I have found these to look the most natural, easiest to apply and stay put. They are lightweight and flare out so they are great for popping on stage. I use this Duo Brush-On Eyelash Glue, which dries clear and doesn’t damage your natural lashes when you take them off.
One thing I love is that Roots does big + little sisters each season. It’s a way to build their teammates up, but also have someone they can get closer with. Seniors and teens “adopt” a little sister each year and then we have a fun reveal party in the fall = it is soo sweet. When we have competitions, we bring Reagan a little gift or goody bag [filled with her favorite candy, a fun little happy, etc] based on the favorites list each dancer completes so we know what they would like! That relationship Carson has with her is just the sweetest!
Oh goodness this is a hard question to answer… shocking, I know. When your kid does travel sports or any type of other team activity that is on a competitive level, it’s going to be pricey. Not only do we pay for weekly rehearsals, private lessons, choreography, costumes, hotel rooms + travel, in addition to all the other items outlined above, but it’s been an investment in something that has truly given so much joy for our daughter. She found the activity that makes her come alive and it’s been a dream come true to see her take that stage time and time again, doing what she loves. You also have to pay dance fees for each routine they are in, so that comes into play as well. I’d say when all is said and done, it ranges between $500 – $1,000 a month [truly my personal experience… this number could change within your georgaphic location/how many dance they are in/travel expenses/etc].
OK, I know that was a lot but I hope this proves to be beneficial in chatting about the world of dance and everything associated with competitions. To see your child excel in something they truly love and want to continue doing is absolutely amazing and I love that I get to experience this with her.