Tips for Your First Ballroom Dance Competition

Posted by Jaden McKell on

Preparing for a ballroom dance competition can be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first one! From last-minute costume tweaks and makeup tutorials to hotel reservations and paperwork, there are so many things you have to take care of before the big day. We’ve gathered a few tried-and-true tips from Jeravae, a fellow dancer and the owner of Jeravae International, to help you feel more confident during your first competition experience. Read on for our beginner’s preparation guide! 

    1. Have your hair done by a professional. You’ll really appear like you know what you’re doing if you look put together. Because of this, Jeravae definitely recommends having your hair done by a professional your first time — and probably a few times after that! Ballroom hairstyles are very specialized and specific. Make sure to look your absolute best by setting aside the time and funds to have your look professionally done by one of the hair/makeup vendors. For more tips on keeping your hair shiny and in place on the dance floor, check out our 15 DIY Hacks for Ballroom Dancers blog post.
    2. Pack ahead of time. Packing everything you need a week beforehand will help you avoid any unnecessary stress the morning of the competition. If you procrastinate packing until the night before, you may realize you’ve forgotten something the next morning. You don’t want to be scrambling trying to find what you need the morning of the competition!
    3. Get a good night’s sleep each night of the competition. Late night heat times and early morning hair/makeup appointments will mean shorter nights, but you can be sure to get your best sleep by trying these tricks. Whether it’s soaking in a warm bath or reading a book, take steps to relax before bed, as this will help you fall asleep more easily. Try and avoid the bright screens on your phone or TV since these can make it difficult to fall asleep. Head to bed early, when absolutely possible, and don’t forget to set your alarm! 
    4. Fuel your body right. It’s crucial to eat well the night before putting your body through a physically exerting competition. You’ll have more energy, more endurance and faster recovery. Bring plenty of nutritious snacks to the table with you. You're going to have long days, and keeping healthy snacks handy will help you avoid eating quick sugar fixes if you get hungry before you can grab a meal. To learn more about the type of foods to eat, see our Nutrition Tips for Ballroom Dancers blog post.
    5. Create and pack an emergency kit. Trust us, you’ll feel a lot calmer knowing that you’ve prepared for a variety of unexpected situations. Here are some of the most helpful things to have in your dancer emergency kit: extra fishnets (black socks for gentlemen), bobby pins, deodorant, Band-Aids, pain-relieving medication, eyelash glue, a couple snacks, water and mints. It’s absolutely essential to stay hydrated during your competition. It’s also just as important to have a few healthy snacks on hand to fuel your body. Water will most likely be provided in the ballroom, but having a dedicated water bottle to yourself will make it that much easier to keep your water intake high!
    6. Arrive early. Arriving early will definitely help to alleviate some stress. Most competitions ask you to be downstairs 30 minutes before your first heat starts in case they’re running ahead of schedule. Jeravae recommends being even earlier, especially if you haven't been to the ballroom yet. Finding your table and getting used to your surroundings will help you feel less disoriented when you hit that dance floor.
    7. Warm up and stretch. It’s very important to warm up your muscles and your mind. Moving and stretching will also help to release some of those pent-up nerves and get your endorphins flowing. Your instructor will make time for you to warm up before you dance, so take full advantage and get loose!
    8. Greet the judges and other competitors. It’s completely natural at first to feel intimidated by judges and fellow competitors. To help break the ice and relieve some tension, say hello and introduce yourself to your judges and fellow dancers. Ballroom competitions are a friendly sport, and the competition aspect doesn't often reach off the floor. Make friends with your table mates and your judges preferably in full makeup. If they recognize you, they're much more likely to mark you!
    9. Smile! Remember that little accidents happening during your routine is always a possibility. The judges want to see how you react to a snafu. If you get right back to dancing, you'll really impress them. It's not uncommon to see a little tumble or fall, too — if it happens, hop up and get right back to your routine. Your instructor will help you find your place. The most important thing by far is to smile! Stay positive; the judges will pick up on your confidence. 

Thank you for reading! Please note that this list is not meant to be all-inclusive. If you’ve competed before, what has helped you to prepare? Have more questions for us? Contact us by calling 816-439-6009 or submitting a form on our website.