Festival of Dance 2019: Festival pack & Newsletter

Dear Parents,

I hope you have all had a lovely, restful Christmas and New Year. In this letter I have enclosed everything you could want to know about the upcoming Dance Festival.

Ballet shoes, tights, and socks

These will be fitted and handed out during the first couple of weeks of term. Please save them for stage use only!

Ushers at Beau Sejour and Chaperones back stage

As in previous festivals, all schools will need to provide two extra ushers for various sessions during the competition week. All ushers will need to attend a briefing 45mins before the start of their session. The Academy has been allocated Wednesday 23rd January 14.00-17.30 (approx) and Friday 25th January 19.00-22.30 (approx). You will be able to watch these sessions for free so this may be ideal for a grandparent/relative who would like to watch their child dancing but had been unable to get tickets.

In addition to this, due to the new child protection regulations and an increasing number of students taking part in each group session, I require a little more help back stage. If you are available at the below times, and hold a DBS check, please email or add your name to the list at the studio. I would recommend that volunteers are not parents of competitors in the sessions as you will be unable to sit and watch your children from the front. The below times are chaperone times, not competition hours.

Tuesday 22nd January Under 9 ballet (both groups) 10.00-12.30

Wednesday 23rd January Under 13 greek 13.00-15.00

Friday 25th January Under 9 modern 10.30-12.30

Under 13 ballet 14.45-16.30

Under 13 tap 18.00-20.00

Saturday 26th January Under 9 tap 10.50-12.30

Under 13 modern 18.30-20.45

Concerts 8th, 9th, 10th February, Princess Royal Performing Arts Centre

Tickets will go on sale Monday 21st January. These will be available online only through a website called StageStubs, I will email out a link in the New Year. Tickets for adults are £11.50, children are £7.00. I will need ushers for these performances as well, there will be a form up on the board at the studio, as well as a sign up sheet for volunteers back stage. There will be programmes available to purchase from the school from Monday 14th January.

Class cancellations and half term dates

Saturday 19th January Pre-school and Reception Ballet will run as normal (covered by Miss Miffy) Under 9 ballet B rearranged from 13.00-13.45 at the studio after dress rehearsal at the theatre.

Monday 21st January-Saturday 26th January inclusive no classes will be running at the studio.

Friday 8th February Pre-school ballet, Reception ballet (Fri & Sat) & Contemporary to rehearse at the theatre after school prior to evening show commencing. No classes running at the studio.

Saturday 9th February Pre-school ballet & Reception ballet run as normal at the studio. All Under 9 ballet B from 10.30-11.15 only.

The school will then close for two weeks for February half term, Monday 11th February-Sunday 24th February. From Monday 25th February we will operate a new timetable, where all Festival groups will revert to separate grades. New timetable will be available on our website and Parents Facebook page.

Competition times

Under 9 modern Stray Cat Strut & Toot Sweets
Friday morning 11.00am

Under 9 tap Monster Mash
Saturday morning 11.50am

Under 9 ballet Grandma’s Attic & Christmas at the North Pole
Tuesday morning 11.00am

Under 13 modern Nightmare & Cluedo
Saturday evening 7.30pm

Under 13 tap Steppin’ Out
Friday evening 7.00pm

Under 13 ballet Starry Starry Night
Friday afternoon 3.45pm

Under 13 greek Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Wednesday afternoon 2.10pm

Under 20 modern To This Day
Thursday evening 8.00pm

Under 20 tap Both Reached For The Gun
Tuesday evening 7.00pm

Under 20 ballet Music Of The Night
Saturday afternoon 2.00pm

Under 20 greek (unnamed)
Tuesday afternoon 4.35pm

Please arrive a minimum of 1hr before the stated competition time for groups, duets, trios, and solos.

All dance schools will be using the David Ferguson Hall as changing rooms. Please arrive at the theatre through either the front doors or concourse doors. The David Ferguson Hall is down the stairs on the left. You will need to sign your child in. All Under 13 and Under 20 parents are required to leave your children at the door, Under 9 parents are permitted to accompany them through to the dressing rooms and settle your child before leaving them to go and watch. After your child’s section has finished and adjudication taken place, we will get all group/s ready and take them out of the dressing room en masse to reduce the number of people in the dressing rooms.

Under 9s should not wear underwear beneath their costumes. If your child is nervous about getting changed in front of others I suggest bringing a beach wrap to change underneath. Under 13s (where possible) should not wear underwear/should not have visible underwear, and Under 20s should not wear visible underwear. I strongly suggest that on the dress rehearsal at the theatre that all children wear what they intend to on the competition day to see if it works.

Wherever possible please get your child ready at home before arriving at the theatre – but do not apply lipstick prior to arrival! Final touches at the theatre is fine (such as eye shadow/eye liner) and if there are hair style/s that you struggle with and require help from another parent/me, please ensure you arrive in plenty of time.

All costumes should be in named bags (most group costumes came in costume bags), I don’t suggest putting names on the costumes themselves as the print may show through. When your child has got changed please immediately put all their clothes in their costume/dance bag and stow away under the chairs/hang on costume rails.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do ensure the night before that your child has everything they need for their dance. We will not have endless spares at the theatre.

Do double check props & accessories. Large props may be brought to the theatre during the groups dress rehearsal and left in the scene dock.

Do bring any hairbands, gel/spray, grips and make up required.

Do ensure that your child has checked in on the door.

Do ensure that you have given Miss King all up-to-date contact details in case of an emergency.

Do wear Academy branded hoodies/onesies if you have them to protect costumes.

Do pack your child something to do when they are waiting to perform/waiting for adjudication such as colouring, or card games. Electronics are not recommended in case of them being lost or stolen.

Don’t bring juice or fizzy drinks to the theatre. Water only.

Don’t bring chocolate or messy snacks to the theatre or to rehearsal.

How to do a ballet bun

  • Hairspray & Gel
  • Hair brush
  • Fine tooth comb
  • Hair bands (thicker are better than thin)
  • Bun pins (if your child has short or fine hair, use shorter pins or bun will look like a hedgehog!)
  • Kirby grips
  • Fine hair net (make sure it matches the colour of your child’s hair)

Brush hair to remove all knots and tangles. Hair that has not been washed that day is easier to work with than freshly washed. Brush hair in the direction of a ponytail before spraying with hairspray (easier to brush out than gel) and then combing to ensure that there are no lumps and bumps at the top of the head or under the ponytail.

Gather hair in a ponytail – this should be at the centre of the head, and not visible from the front. Secure with a hairband.

Twist the hair into one long strand and start to wrap around the pony tail in a coiled shape close to the head. Hold this in place with one hand, take the bun net in the other, and wrap the net around the bun, you may need to go around twice. The bun shape should be squishy and mouldable.

Once the bun is formed, you the open bun pins around the base and through the centre of the bun to secure. Use as much hairspray as needed to keep the bun neat and to eliminate loose hairs.

If your child has a fringe, it may be best to use gel as well as hair spray, and use closed kirby grips across the top of the head.


Don’t be scared to re-do the ponytail or bun if you are not happy with the shape. The looser and more squishy the bun is under the hair net, the easier it is to mould it and pin it into the shape you want.

If your child has a lot of baby hairs that won’t stick down, try hair spraying the comb, comb the hairs close to the head and hold under the spray dries slightly.

Classical ballet buns should be formed without the use of a bun ring/doughnut shaper.

How to French plait

First of all – practice makes perfect! I couldn’t work out a logical way to write out instructions so I have found a couple of YouTube videos for you to try:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPE1ktvWXsY – Explaining how to hold the strands so they don’t get mixed up in your hand.

How to Dutch braid

Dutch braids stand out on the top of the hair, the opposite to French plaits. Practise French plaits before Dutch braiding for help on how to hold the strands!


Note: damp hair is easier to work with than dry. Try getting a plant spray bottle to spritz the hair as you go!

How to twist/rope braid

Nice alternative to french plaits into a bun!