Showtime is such an exciting time for many dance schools. The pupils have the opportunity to show off everything that they have learnt in the studio and wear fantastic costumes and makeup. But behind the glitz there’s usually an army of matrons frantically trying to get children on stage on time, making last minute adjustments to costumes, or even simply trying to keep the younger children entertained. Here at Dancemania we appreciate that being a matron can be daunting, so we have put together a list of handy tips to help you during showtime.
During personal experience as a matron, I have found it to be extremely important to carry items to help with either hair or costume malfunctions. Here are my essentials that I would take to most shows that I help in:
• Hair grips and pins/safety pins. These are essential for dealing with hair and wardrobe malfunctions. I usually attach these onto a lanyard and wear them around my neck so that they are in easy reach in case of emergency.
• Hairspray/Makeup wipes: These are simple essentials for dancers. Hair must be very slick for shows and hairspray will help you to achieve a polished look. Within the showbiz world, it is considered a “faux pas” to be seen in public with stage make-up on. Make-up wipes will allow you to remove heavy stage make-up as well as being handy for cleaning leather ballet shoes! ( I would recommend checking for any allergies before using hairspray and make-up wipes on children.)
• Plasters: Plasters are extremely useful. If you have older girls in the dance school that are on pointe, they may develop blisters or sore patches which can be alleviated with the use of a simple plaster. (As before, check for allergies before administrating)
• Mini Sewing Kit: You would be surprised at how important this is. You may find yourself sewing an elastic back onto a ballet shoe around 10 minutes before a dancer is due to be on stage… (I’ve been there!)
• Paper and colouring pencils: A simple way to keep younger children entertained in between dances. I would not recommend felt tips, gel pens for ballpoint pens as they are not a good combination when costumes are involved!
As a matron, I would recommend wearing what you feel most comfortable in. I have found that it is very important to wear layers, ie: carry a cardigan or hoodie as it can be cold backstage in the dressing rooms but extremely hot at the side of the stage because of the lighting. I would also recommend wearing sensible shoes as you are likely to be on your feet for most of the day! Also, remember to wear your matron badge at all times for safety reasons.
Make sure that children are not drinking coloured or fizzy drinks as this could be a disaster as far as costumes are concerned! I would also watch out for children eating chocolate or sweets as these too could stain costumes easily. During lunchtime, it is usually a good idea to make sure that children are wearing a jumper or dressing gown over their costumes to avoid accidents!
Quick changes have the potential to be very stressful and hectic, but they don’t have to be! Prior to the show, show the dancers and other matrons where the costumes will be during the quick change. Over the years, I have found that the best way to store costumes at the side of the stage is to use plastic boxes or even washing baskets to keep the clothes in. Have one labelled box for each dancer and this method avoids confusion whilst keeping the side of the stage (which is often dark) free of trip hazards.
This is something that you will find yourself saying almost all day! It is very important to keep children quiet as the sound may travel onto the stage and ruin the experience for the audience!
Being backstage is a great way to experience the world of dance and it is so rewarding to help young dancers look their best so that they can dance their best on stage! Being a matron also means that you can truly appreciate the hard work that goes into a production, meaning that you will enjoy shows even more when you watch them!
Are you going to be a matron this summer? Do you have any other tips?
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