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Bringing Mom Backstage - How to Support Without Getting in the Way!

The moniker “Dance Mom” earned a bad reputation after the show of the same name dramatized the world of dance in an over-the-top mean girl narrative. Us moms in the dance world know that the vast majority of us do not fit that mold! Let’s take the term “Dance Mom” back!

I always strive to be as supportive as possible, not only to my little dancer, but to her teachers and everyone else at the studio who works so hard to give my daughter an amazing dance experience! In my mind, it’s essential to leave the footwork to the teachers and learn to be helpful without being pushy.

The main way I accomplish this is by being supportive backstage. Teachers are always seeking volunteers to keep the kids safely occupied while they wait to go on stage, or wait for the results in a competition (in both instances, they need to be kept ‘camera-ready’). I advise first-time dance moms to follow these steps to ensure they are good assistants and key assets to the teachers.

#1: Recognize That You’re Not Essential. Ha, I know that’s hard to hear — we are moms! Everyone needs us! But hear me out: When you’re backstage, you need to be helpful without being a hindrance. Give your daughter space to be independent — you may be surprised at her ability to stay still, adjust her own costume, or put on her own shoes! And don’t hover around the teacher, either. She knows who you are, why you’re backstage, and she’ll absolutely let you know what she needs. 

#2: Don’t Make a Decision Without Permission. Many moms are driven to help and anticipate the needs of their kids (and other littles in the room). But, don’t make a move to take a kid to the potty or allow anyone to remove a piece of their costume without 100% certainty that the teacher wants that to happen. Remember, Ms. Teacher is in charge here, not you!

#3: Have Your Stuff Together. While you may be permanently frazzled and running 10 minutes behind in every aspect of your life (aren’t we all?!), participating in dance recitals earns you a PhD in time management and planning. Don’t be that mom who forgets the shoes or tights or hair accessory. Please, just don’t. Don’t be the mom whose child is not ready 10 minutes before show time. When you sign up for dance and agree to a recital or competition, you are playing by the teacher’s rules. Be a team player!

#4: Don’t Roll Your Eyes. Speaking of teacher’s rules, know that every single item on that handout is there for a reason. Think it’s weird that the teacher states “be here on time” because it seems obvious? Well, I guarantee that teacher has had numerous children missing at show time. She states those rules because they’ve been a problem in the past!

#5: Ask How to Help BEFORE Recital Day. By the time recital day rolls around, you should know exactly what to do and when. Do not bother the teacher with questions or ask her “what can I help with?” in the middle of pre-show chaos. It’s not fair to her! Many studios give handouts outlining expectations or they hold parent meetings — all designed to discuss specific roles before the big day. Take it seriously to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

What are some of your top tips to be a supportive Dance Mom? I’d love to hear them!