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colorful life + style blogger | native nashvillian | wife and mom to two darling little ladies | bringing you all the happy you can handle

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life in the dance lane… the full q+a

Family + Kids

April 12, 2024

If you follow along via social media, you probably know by now that we are thick in the dance competition season over in our world right now. It officially “kicks off” in January with our first comp and then we finish this dance year at the end of June with our nationals in Ohio… so a few more months to go until we reach the finish line, but I can’t lie = I love every minute of this.

It’s absolutely incredible getting to watch your kids do something they love + are super passionate about, so I am hopping on today to give you the full details about my life as a dance mom. I did my first q&a on this topic back in the spring of 2022 and it’s safe to say a few things have evolved and changed since then… so I’m glad I had you all ask new questions you were curious about!

Let’s start from the beginning of our dance journey back when each of the girls turned three. They started off doing recreational ballet classes for two years… both enjoyed it, but then asked to do gymnastics instead so I honestly thought our dance journey was over with. Well, fast forward to when Carson turned 6 and asked to take dance again. We had friends that raved about Roots Dance Academy, so we took a trial class and she was sold. She danced in two classes that first year and then decided the next year she wanted to try out for the competition team. During that timeframe, Caroline was still taking gymnastics and then decided she wanted to join some of her besties who took dance at AXIS.

Honestly, I never thought they’d both be dancing again and never did I imagine they would both be dancing competitively, but if you’re a mom, you’ll totally realize this answer oh so quickly. Caroline and Carson are just 15 months apart so they would technically compete against each other if they were at the same studio. Would it be easier for me in terms of transportation and having both my daughters at one studio? HELL YES. Would it be harder on them? I think that answer is a yes as well. Who knows what the future holds and at some point they may end up together… but that’s a decision we would all need to agree on. They each have their own unique personalities, preferences, friendships and passions and I want them to know I’ll always encourage their independence in their activities. Plus, playing chauffeur to my little ladies isn’t all bad… the conversations, the one-on-one time = I know it’s a short season of my life and I’ll beg for it to be back again when it’s gone.

Probably one of the most asked questions ever… I went all in when Carson joined the Roots company team 4 years ago… I did tons of research on all the dance bags + travel essentials and ended up purchasing the Standard Size Glamr Gear Bag. Yes, it’s a pricey purchase, but I looked at it from a cost per use perspective and it’s been a huge help over the past seasons. Not only does it come with a super helpful bar that assembles into a dressing curtain area [keeping things private in those giant dressing rooms], but it is also great for holding your costumes, makeup, shoes, accessories, comp tool kit and more inside AND it spins on four wheels so even Carson can maneuver it! We even bought a few extra accessories including the personalized name patch, LED hanging mirror, costume garment bags for each of her dances, travel protective cover and privacy curtain [all which I highly recommend]. It also doubles as her suitcase when we travel to competitions outside of Nashville and yearly national trips as well!

A few other things I would recommend purchasing that also make long dance days way more bearable:

Checkerboard Blanket | I snagged this super soft one from Amazon and not only does it keep her warm for early morning call times, but it also serves as a comfy place to sit in between dances [for the girls and myself]. And at $35, it’s been a great investment we can use at every comp!

Collapsible Stool | $25 for this stool that is easy to transport + collapses for easy use. It took me a few years to finally bite the bullet on this one, but I wish I had done it sooner. It’s convenient for makeup and hair changes and has an easy rotation to open/close. This would make a fun gift to give a dancer, too.

Extra Phone/Travel Charger | Not just for dance moms, but for anyone +_everyone who needs an extra charge during sports, cheer, etc. Long dance days means you’re taking lots of pictures and videos and most likely checking for schedule updates, so it’s good to have an extra charger on hand for quick and easy charging for your cell phone/ipad/etc.

Headphones and Portable Speaker | These were both items on Carson’s Christmas list and I am SO thankful we got them when we did. A lot of times, she wants to warm up her dances before she gets with her mentors, so now she can practice with her music [with or without her teammates = using the speaker for group dances + her headphones for her solo]. She is one that wants to be “in the zone” before she competes and these allow her to do just that without disrupting those around her.

This hanging organizer acts as our dance “tool kit” and I LOVE the convenience of it. I’ve shared our list of essential items for dance before, but I’ve definitely added to it since then, so I am posting it here again for reference [be sure to save this one below friends]. Our studios assign this at the beginning of the year as must-haves you need to have on hand just in case and it has saved us numerous times when spills happen, things tear, need extra pins, etc. This organizer houses everything we need and rolls up for convenience to fit in our bag!

Lots and lots of caffeine… I wish I could say I stay naturally energized with those long competition days, but that would just be a flat out lie. Most of the time, I am trying to stay positive because I might be tired, but my daughter is WAY more exhausted than I could ever imagine = especially on those rare times when she has all 6 dances on one day.

For me, it’s drinking coffee in the morning, bringing along an energy drink to have in the afternoon and then sometimes I go crazy and walk my happy self to the concession stands for a real coke. It’s a rarity, but sometimes a mama has to do it for her kids! I do try to keep an assortment of snacks on hand for us to eat throughout the day so we aren’t constantly reaching for the sugary stuff, but yes, sometimes sour patch kids are an essential for making it through without tears from me or my child. 😉 By the end of the day, we are all usually pretty delirious so we just have to laugh through the tiredness!

Here are some favs we try to have on hand and pack in our snack bag:

Fruit | apples, cutie oranges, bananas, freeze dried strawberries

Snacks | nutella to-go packs, peanut butter filled pretzels, chomps turkey sticks, boom chicka pop mini popcorn bags, grab the gold bars, quest protein bars, apple sauce packets, smart sweets candy

Drinks | premier protein chocolate shakes, gatorade, bottled water

Tiger Friday | Tiger Friday has been a go to place for Caroline and Carson for a few seasons now. The clothes are pieces that are not only super cool + functional but both girls love them as well = WIN. Comfort is a huge part of dance ware and I know whenever my girls are wearing Tiger Friday they are not only comfortable, but CONFIDENT as well!

Five the Label | When it comes to the basics Five the Label checks all the boxes in this department. We have always been able to find quality pieces here that are lasting season after season. I love the clean look of their pieces and the ability to mix and match colors and sizes! Another one that is C + C approved!

Jo + Jax | All the color + bright! Dance is FUN and what they wear should represent that too! I love that Jo + Jax has a ton to offer! From youth to adults, they have something for every dancer.

Honeycut Dancewear | The name itself tells you exactly what you need to know about this awesome company… honey (sweet) cut (fit) and what a “sweet cut” everything we have ordered from here has been! Honeycut fills in the holes of the items that my girls need when it comes to dance outfits.

I think the thing that intimidated me the most when we entered the world of competitive dance was bring told I would have to learn how to rhinestone costumes. Any idea on how scary that is?? Yes, I definitely watched my fair share of YouTube how-to videos, but I mastered this craft fairly quickly and it’s actually a lot easier than it looks… especially when you find the right tips + tools to get it done like a pro.

First things first, you need a divided organizer like the one below to keep your stones organized. That way you can keep different sizes and colors in their specific place which makes the process more efficient. Another must-have?? The holy grail of rhinestone glue… E6ooo. A little dab goes a VERY long way, so use sparingly. But it’s the best of the best out there and what we all swear by when it comes to stone application for a one-and-done method. I also recommend ordering these glue applicator syringes so you can apply the glue slowly and helps to apply the glue to the precise place you need it [also helps when going in lines to make it go faster as well]. My other must-have tool is a jewel picker. I like this one because it has two ends with two different sizes [based on the size of the stones you’re applying]. It’s sticky so the jewels stick to the applicator and then you can drop it on top of the glue!

Practice makes perfect when it comes to stoning, so grab yourself an adult beverage, relax and take your time. I actually find it very therapeutic now [weird, huh??]

Like I mentioned previously, we got lucky in that we had friends at both of my girls’ dance studios that were very happy and made it easy for us to try out a class to see if it was a good fit for our family. There are TONS of amazing studios in and around Nashville and since I grew up here, I was familiar with most of the studios. Honestly, I asked a lot of friends + acquaintances to tell me the good/bad/ugly and everything in between, which made it easy to cross off some from our initial list.

Most dance studios offer free trial classes so you can get a taste of what their program is like, what they do in each class, etc. Definitely take advantage of that and try a few out to see what fits you and your child best! I would also recommend checking out their social media, do some research on their website/see their FAQs, etc. It’s a big investment in your family’s time + money and you want to find the perfect fit for your dancer!

I am no studio director or professional dance teacher so let’s just caveat that up front. My advice is based solely on what we’ve done, so take that with a grain of salt. Like I mentioned before, both of my girls started dance at age three which was great to see if they even had an interest in dancing.

From there, Carson was asked to try out for the competition team when she was six, but she adamantly said she wasn’t interested so I gave a polite no for the answer. Fast forward a year later and I remember her asking about the dancers at the recital who were in all the dances… from there, she was all in. We started with just two routines that first year, moved to four dances the second comp season and now we are at six dances. Honestly, it is a lot of dancing, but she absolutely loves it = I think for us we are monitoring it on a year-by-year basis to determine what’s best for her schedule, but always remembering school comes first!

I do think if your child has a true and sincere passion for dance, you should start them in the competitive world anywhere between 4 and 6 years old. This is huge when it comes to working on their skills + abilities and helping them gain strength/flexibility which will pay off in a big way once they get closer to their teen years. We see kids as young as three compete and rock it and then I see others try to start their dance journey later in their adolescence… I just think that can be tricky and a lot harder because they don’t have the skills as fast as those who have worked on them for years.

Never thought I’d be creating a makeup collage with a step-by-step application process for what my 10 and 12-year old’s wear for dance, but here we are!! I will say that my girls definitely love all things girly AND fun, but a full face is only used at competitions and not for everyday makeup [they usually only wear mascara and lip gloss and that’s wonderful]. Having said that, stage makeup needs to be bold, colorful and a bit more dramatic because of the lighting/etc so these are our tried and true staples we have purchased that work really well on the stage!

You’ve got that right! It took me two solid comp seasons to learn the in’s and out’s of all the scoring, adjudication. So I’ll try to be as comprehensive as possible and speak in terms we can all understand. I will mention that all competitions have their own set naming system for the levels, age groups, etc so that can be another tricky thing to master, but most align fairly similarly… below I’m sharing the most traditional names of age groups, dance entry + adjudication levels are comprised of:

Dance Entry Level | Most comps have three set levels of dances: a classic/beginner which is geared more towards those dancers who are newer to competitive dance, then the intermediate/select group who have competed for 2-3 years and then the elite/advanced group is mostly for those top-tier dancers who have competed for a longer length of time [mostly 5+ years] and are at an advanced technical level. Obviously it’s up to the discretion of studio owners and directors where their dancers compete, but we have solos and groups in all levels!

Age Groups | In terms of age ranges, this again is specific to each company’s own rules + regulations, but mostly follow in the groups below. Birthdate affects this a lot and honestly it gets confusing depending on the month, as a lot of the competitions are based on how old you are in January when comp season begins. As of now, both of my girls compete as juniors.

Adjudication Ranges | Basically, this is their overall score. When going through awards, this is always the first thing the emcee reads first from the judges ratings… usually it starts from a perfect 100 point scale and then decreases down as you can see below. There are all sorts of naming systems but it basically all means the same.

In each competition, there are additional awards + scholarships given out per routine/dancer… that can include scholarships for future competitions, entry to a dance convention, invitation to casting calls, etc. They also routinely give out costume/entertainment/technique awards and also present studio awards as well. Lots to remember and I know it can be overwhelming. I recommend purchasing the program when you go to these comps so you can visually see their ranking system, scoring names and keep track of your dancer’s routines and how many others they are competing against in their category/age division/etc.

OK so I feel like I am a professional when it comes to finding the perfect fake eyelashes and glue that withstands a 7AM to 10PM dance schedule. Trust me, I’ve tried them all and I always come back to these Ardell Naked Eyelashes + Duo Brush On Lash Glue Adhesive. They look natural and definitely make your eye makeup pop on stage. They also blend easily with your real lashes and won’t come off! They are also easy to cut if you need to make them a bit shorter in length [especially for little ladies eyes]. And the glue is my go-to because it turns blue upon application and then goes clear once it’s dried! Easy peasy I promise. Just recently, Carson mastered her own lases so this mama is retiring from that aspect and I am excited for one less argument ;).

I wish I had a better system in place for this type of memorabilia but sadly I don’t. Honestly, for a few years, Carson loved to adorn her dance jacket and backpack with her pins, but now she doesn’t really care to so I keep them in a “dance” memory/keepsake box I purchased online from The Container Store. That is also where I put her scholarship awards, any type of top dancer certificates, extra recital pics, etc. I will be honest, though they pile up quickly so I am going to have to come up with another idea soon.

As for the trophies, we have a TON – right now, they are in her closet, but I have a feeling she will “age out” of displaying them sooner rather than later and we will have to come up with another idea or maybe just keep a handful and donate the others.

Long story short… there are plenty of copycats out there and yes we’ve seen it happen firsthand. Other studios will 100% steal dances/mixes/routines/etc. Sad as it sounds, it’s something that does occur especially during comp season when teachers are consistently making changes to each dance based on judges critiques/adding additional skills so our dance staff always asks us not to share the dances until after the comp season ends. So for this year that will conclude in mid-June. I promise to post dances afterwards!

If you made it to the end, CONGRATULATIONS!! You deserve an award. I know it’s a lot of information, which is why it took me quite some time to draft it and get this blog post out. Good luck as you enter the world of competitive dance. Just know you’re in for a world of fun, long hours at the dance studio + lots of travel, but I wouldn’t change the experiences Caroline + Carson have had with their teachers, friends and other families and it’s been one of the most fun things we get to do together!

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2024 favs

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colorful life + style blogger | native nashvillian | wife and mom to two darling little ladies | bringing you all the happy you can handle

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