Are you a first-time eisteddfod dance mum or dad?

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Hairspray? Check.
Red lipstick? Check.
Coffee? OMG YES PLEASE BUT HOLY MOLY, MY HANDS ARE FULL…

Welcome to the world of eisteddfods!

Like the end-of-year concert, eisteddfods are fantastic opportunities for young dancers to perform on stage. This is where their hard work pays off and friends and family can see the incredible work they’ve done in class come to life. Yes, they will compete with other dance schools. Yes, sometimes that competition is tough! But it doesn’t matter where they place—eisteddfods are about team work, energy, artistry, discipline and fun.

So, what’s your job as the dance parent?

PLAN AHEAD
Check your list of costume and hair/makeup requirements well before the day to make sure you have everything you need. It can help to think about the child from head to toe, e.g. hair, make up, costume, dance undies, accessories, tights and shoes.

Buy a spare pair of tights. Rushed kids can easily rip tights so a backup pair of each type is essential.

Name everything. In a fast-change frenzy, kids will fling costume pieces in every direction. Make sure your child’s pieces come back to you!

HAIR KIT
Depending on the hair style/s required, you’re likely to need the following: hair bands, hair pins, bobby pins, hair nets, hair brush, tailed comb, hair spray and maybe a water spray. The easiest thing is to pop it all into a compartmented box, which we call the HAIR KIT. You can buy these from a dance shop, but a tackle box from Kmart or a cheap shop works perfectly well.

Access to bench space and power is often limited at eisteddfods so it can be easiest to do the first hairstyle at home. If your child’s hair is rebellious, a water spray is helpful to tame fluffy bits into submission. How do you get it to stay? Hair spray, extra hold. Get a big can of it!

Don’t worry if there’s a tricky style to master—you can either practice ahead of time or ask an expert dance parent on the day to help.

MAKE UP
If your child’s colouring is similar to yours, they can use your foundation if you want to share. Otherwise, you can purchase inexpensive makeup from Kmart or a chemist, or sensitive skinned-kids can purchase child-friendly make up at the dance store.

Apply foundation, then a mineral or pressed powder to stop shine. Pop some blush on cheekbones. Use a cream-coloured eyeshadow all over the eye socket and highlight with medium brown. Use a black pencil or liquid eyeliner and mascara.

A trick with applying mascara is to ask your child to watch the mascara bottle while you apply with the wand. Move the bottle as needed to get their lashes in the right place.

Red lipstick and costumes are not always the best combination! It can be a good idea to purchase a stay-on lipstick to avoid stains. Revlon and some other brands make a paint-on one that only takes a minute to dry and won’t come off unless removed with Vaseline.

Helpful things to bring: tissues, cotton buds, makeup wipes or remover (in case of mistakes).

COMPETITOR PASSES & TICKETS
Bayside Dance will issue each dancer with a competitor pass if required. This will allow the dancer into the auditorium if they want to watch any other sections. You might like to purchase a lanyard to hold it (dance shops and stores like Smiggle sell the glittery ones). For parents and friends, you will need to purchase your own tickets to watch. These are usually priced around $5-$20 each and can be purchased ahead of time online, or on the day at the door.

PACK ALL THE THINGS
At eisteddfods, you’ll see some children with suitcases that convert magically into giant wardrobes. These are generally not necessary, unless your child has several costumes for multiple dances (or is secretly a wizard).

What is a good idea though, is a costume bag. Hang your costume/s on a hanger inside the bag, and pop accessories, the hair kit, the makeup bag and anything else required into the zip pockets. It’s a good idea to have this bag packed the day before.

With limited hanging space at most eisteddfods, it can be a good idea for one parent or teacher to bring a portable clothing rack that everyone can share.

THE NIGHT BEFORE
Check your GPS to see where the venue is located and how long it will take you get there. Also check your parking options. Allow extra time for traffic, parking and finding your dressing room. Help your dancer get a good night’s rest.

ON THE DAY
Feed your dancer well! Allow time for hair and makeup, pack the car and the family if they’re coming. Your dancer can wear the Bayside Dance jacket over their regular clothes. Bring a quiet activity for any siblings who may get restless backstage. Pack drinks and snacks or bring money to purchase at the event. Need that coffee fix? Consider the drive-through on the way!

ARRIVAL
Plan to arrive just before your allocated arrival time. Find the dressing room allocation list or ask an official to point you toward the Bayside Dance dressing room. Finish off hair and makeup if needed, and help your dancer get dressed. It’s good to be ready early, as we will warm the kids up, perhaps run the routine and get them in the right head space. We prefer that kids don’t play with iPads and iPhones as it detracts from their focus on the day.

Once your dancer is ready, you’re welcome to go and watch the performance! They’re in good hands with us. If your dancer has a fast change, we appreciate if parents can come backstage straight after their dance to help, but otherwise, please feel free to stay and watch the whole section and adjudication. You can collect your child after the section. Be sure to give them lots of hugs and praise!

Congratulations. You nailed the eisteddfod! You’re now a seasoned dance mum or dad. Next year, other parents will ask you for advice.

EISTEDDFOD CHECKLIST
Costume bag
Costume, accessories, tights (2 pairs), dance undies, dance shoes
Bayside Dance jacket (to wear)
Hair kit (tackle box): hair bands, hair pins, bobby pins, hair nets, hair brush, tailed comb, hair spray, water spray.
Make up bag: foundation, powder, cream and brown eyeshadow, black eyeliner, black mascara, blush, red lipstick, makeup wipes/makeup remover, cotton tips, tissues.
Competitor pass and tickets (if already received/purchased) or money to purchase
Water and snacks
Quiet activity for siblings
Coffee 😊

Michelle Macwhirter is a writer, marketing coordinator and seasoned dance mum to Emily (9 years) and Isla (7 years). She worked in the performing arts industry in marketing for over ten years and is an avid fan of dance performance and musical theatre.

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