By request of a reader – I’ve updated and re-posted my article on the invitational day for new parents. I take so much of this for granted, but if you’re attending your first dance team event this year it can be a challenge to know the flow. Invitational season starts in 48 hours – I can’t wait to see what our teams will be doing this year.
Parents 101: The Invitational
Going to your first dance team invitational can be rather intimidating as you are seeing this unique world for the first time. Even experienced studio parents have a few new things to master when it comes time to spend your whole Saturday in the gym. We’re going over a few of the things you’ll need to know for negotiating the world of invitational.
- Invites are typically Saturday affairs, but weeknight meets are often similar setups.
- Parking is always a problem. Carpooling, having an accurate set of directions and knowing a bit of the neighborhood is always a good idea. Leave extra time – snow is a common companion.
- If your team’s division is early in the day – plan to arrive when the “doors open” not when the meet begins. Otherwise you may miss out on a good seat or your team altogether. For later starts, arrive 30 minutes early at a minimum.
- Leave your coat in the car if you can stand the walk. Gyms are often quite warm by mid-morning so having some layers and nothing to carry around is a plus.
- Meets have varying admission fees. $6-8 is typical. Sometimes programs are extra. Bring cash and have it ready if you must wait in line.
- Many meets run “double sided” – meaning your team and division will face only one direction, while another division of competition will face the other side. There are signs posted for what doors to use, but be familiar with what your team is called (including abbreviations) and what division they are (kick or jazz?) (A, AA, AAA?) (JV or Varsity?) The order of competition changes from meet to meet. Check out the order of performance in advance from the mnhsdanceteam.com schedules page.
- When you enter, always stay off the main court when walking and keep traffic moving. Stop to talk to friends out of the flow of the doorways and stairways. Always sit in a real seat, not on the steps or they will ask you to move. Never walk through, sit in, or stand in front of the roped off judges seating area (usually top center bleachers – best seats in the house). If there is space to stand behind the judges, they typically don’t allow you to do that.
- Find your schools fans and don’t be afraid to sit with them. Teams love to see a block of fans together – and it’s a great way to meet other parents and fans of your school. Everyone is friendly and in the same boat – don’t be shy. Trust me, your dancer wants to see you sit with them and not off by yourself. It matters more to her than it will to you.
- Doors typically open only every other dance at big meets, so time bathroom and concession breaks leaving plenty of time to get back in for your favorite dances. This is a common “rookie mistake”.
The flow of the meet:
- The announcer gets an “ok” from the superior judge before the next team may be brought in. Then they announce, “in the hole” (which means 3 teams from now will be that team), “on deck” (who will be next), and who is performing now. They read this from a standard announcing sheet provided by each team.
- Single sided events will have a pause for scoring each routine. With a new scoresheet this year, this will take longer until we have it all mastered.
- When the team comes out you’ll notice there are only 3 seats for official coaches on each side and then additional seating for non-dancers. Just because you see an army of girls come out to sit, that doesn’t mean that everyone is cut by a strict coach – keep in mind that JVs often come out to watch too.
- Loud cheering, yelling, clapping, and encouraging are often part of the performance. Follow your team’s other parents at first for some clues. Certainly, clapping after every performance is expected and good sportsmanship. If a team is facing your side, be sure to stay seated and keep movement and talking to a minimum. Cell phones on vibrate.
- Once all the dances have concluded, awards are run according to the host school’s wishes. Some allow circles on the floor; others like lines, some formal events have a parade of teams. After awards, feel free to take some pictures with the team or your dancer. Bring that camera!
- Host schools or conferences will determine what awards will be announced. A “rank score” is often announced along with a placement. The lowest rank is the winner. (A perfect rank score you will often hear is “3”. This means at least 4/5 officials gave the team a score good enough for first place)
- Respect the need to clear the floor quickly afterward or get the dancers to their busses. Follow the coaches’ procedures if you are taking your dancer home with you – often you can’t just leave with your dancer without notice.
Things to know:
- If you plan to videotape – you can film any of the performances without restriction, but be respectful. Always ask your coaches before posting videos on You Tube or social media. Many teams prefer to keep their dances offline until the end of the season. Also, be aware that if you allow comments on videos, you will likely get someone who says something not so nice.
- You (and your dancer) may want to have a plan for food during the day, if you’re getting a meet t-shirt, or whatnot. Meets usually have a substantial concession stand, but that might not be for you. Don’t get stuck without food, medications, and other needs.
- I have personally found that the day of the meet is best to stick to positives. Correcting mistakes, complaining about issues, etc. is all something that can be done when you’re back at practice on Monday. Keep in mind; everyone can hear your comments about another team in the stands even if you don’t think so. Celebrate the hard work and achievements of today, and leave the negatives for some other time and place. Also, our judges are not refs of the NFL. They are professionals who deserve respect for the time and talent they freely offer to our sport for limited gain. While you may not agree with everything they say, dance team sportsmanship expects you to keep your words and actions appropriate towards them.