Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dance shoe size matters-Choosing the right dance shoe


How important is it to have a proper fitting dance shoe?  VERY!  Experts say "A quarter of parents say they don’t get their children properly fitted for shoes on a regular basis and with ill fitting shoes causing anything from bunions and athletes foot to far more serious long term issues like back problems and bone deformation, experts are worried about the harm being done to the health of millions of children." 

More often than not we don't notice that are children's feet have grown out of their shoes.  Case in point;  At the beginning of the fall dance class season, which was September, my daughter was a street size 1 shoe.  Small feet for a small girl for sure.  By the time November came around her foot had grown and increased 2 whole shoe sizes.  My daughter, who recently turned 12, had very steadily increased her shoe size by 1/2 every year since young toddler hood, talk about a growth spurt! Luckily for her, being that I am in the business of selling dance shoes and all things dance, I was able to quickly get her into a new shoe. 
Rare is it that a child says my shoes are too small.  It's difficult in our busy lives to take the time or
make the time to constantly have our children sized for shoes.  

FACT:  If a dance shoe does not fit properly than your child will not be able to dance properly. 
When your shoes are too small and your toes are cramped, or just as bad, your toes are coming out of the tip of the shoe, you simply cannot and will not have proper dance technique.  Thus the beginning of bad dancing habits.  Try this; put on a pair of shoes that are too small and too tight.  How does it feel at the end of the day when your toes are cramped and aching?  Yeah, it's tough to dance correctly when your shoes have seen better days.  Studies have proven wearing shoes that are too small can cause serious long lasting problems.
Bob Hardy Fellow of the Society of Shoe Fitters comments: “Ill fitting shoes are most uncomfortable when you are active so shoes that don’t fit will discourage kids from enjoying physical activities that help to keep a healthy mind and body. Most kids aren’t even aware their shoes are a factor so as a result don’t complain to their mom or dad.”

Here's a secret.  There are only a few dance shoe companies.  Yet, there are so many "brands" of dance shoes.  A big name brand company will own several other brands of shoes.  Ever wonder why one shoe looks so much like another yet they are a different price?  Yeah, it is because they were made my the same manufacturer, over seas, by the way.  Case in point;  Bloch owns 5 different dance shoe brand names.  Same thing goes for Capezio, etc. etc.  It's the same thing in the automobile industry.  Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Volvo, Jaguar.  All are Ford products.  Some cars are almost exactly alike, the difference is the interior and some minor differences in the engine output.  Same goes for shoes.

Anyway, back to the shoe business.  There introductory level shoes, mid-level and so on.  The thing is with shoes is there is not a one size fits all.  Surprise!  Because our feet are so unique you really have to go with what works best for your child's feet.  Of course I have my favorites, shoes that I recommend and shoes that I strongly dislike. This is more about quality.  Then there are shoes that I recommend for narrow and the opposite, very wide feet.  I could literally type for hours talking about shoes.  However, what is most important is fit.  Don't be fooled, just because a shoe is less expensive than another does not mean that it is inferior.  Often the cheaper shoe is just as good as or even better than the more expensive shoe.



In regards to pointe shoes, that's an article within itself.  You must go to a store to try on pointe shoes.  Honestly, going on pointe should only be done if your child is serious about ballet.  If you are a jazz, lyrical, or a contemporary dancer, then you don't ever need to go on pointe and this is from experts.  There are upper level ballet classes that you can take and bypass the whole pointe issue altogether.






Size matters and so does the type of dance shoe that you wear.  Would you wear a tap shoe for a lyrical class?  Would you wear a ballet shoe to a jazz class?  You shouldn't wear a ballet shoe to any class except a ballet class. They are different!  Then there is the argument of canvas versus leather.
So, every dance studio, or at least every studio should have a dress code and shoe requirement list.  Some schools like leather.  Some dance schools like canvas.  Sometimes you have options and sometimes you don't.  Often if you are on a team then everyone has to have the same shoe.  If you are serious about dance then be serious about the dance shoe that your child is wearing.

So, a few tips.  Measure often, at least every 6 months. You can measure accurately, at home.  It only takes a few seconds. When it comes to a particular style of shoe and brand, it's all about trial and error.  Spend some at a dance store, if you can.  Nowadays dance stores will charge a fee, as much as $35.00 to try on shoes.  If you buy a pair of shoes than that fee is null and void.

Discount code TP67920
Buying dance shoes online- If you plan ahead and you know the correct street size shoe, than go ahead and order online.  Online retailers are selling the exact same shoe and they come with the same warranty just as if you were buying them at a retail store front.  The only difference is the cost and the time you spend time traveling to and from a store front.  If you go this route than I highly recommend Discount Dance Supply.
If and when you order dance shoes online, be sure to look at the shoe size chart.  Often the size of dance shoe is not the same as the size of a street shoe.  Also, each brand has their own conversion sizes! You will have to look at the provided conversion chart and then make your choice. If you have questions you can simply call customer service.  TP67920, this is a discount code that you can use for multiple purchases at Discount Dance Supply.  Simply input the code at checkout.

Here's an example of a size chart that you MIGHT encounter when converting a child's street shoe size to adult.  Notice too that this particular shoe brand company first has you increasing the shoe size and then giving you the corresponding adult size shoe to purchase.  This is NOT the case with all styles or brands of shoes. 
Converting Child to Adult Sizes
First increase the child street shoe size by two. Then follow the suggested fitting for the adult shoe you are purchasing.
Child Street Size Adult Street Size
1.0 3.0
1.5 3.5
2.0 4.0
2.5 4.5
3.0 5.0
3.5 5.5
4.0 6.0
4.5 6.5



You can do a Google search for a shoe size chart.  There you will find various printable sizing charts which can facilitate you in sizing your child at home. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Packing for a Dance Competition or Recital

January 2014 is upon us and dance competition season has begun.  I am thus posting blogs that specifically pertain to preparing for competitions.  Embellishing costumes, How to apply rhinestones onto your costumes, 10 easy steps to applying competition & recital make-up and dance bag comparisons.  In keeping with the theme, this post is about what to pack or bring to a dance competition.

Check your list twice
It's has taken years of being on the competitive dance circuit for me to feel comfortable and confident in regards to being prepared.  There are many small things that you simply don't think about bringing to a meet.  For those of you who are first timer's or even still fairly new to the world of dance competitions, congratulations and welcome to the world of dance.

If you are a first timer, be prepared for very long days, long weekends and lot's of down time.  Sometimes you will get lucky and your meet will be near some retail stores and food services. Here you can get out, eat a good, healthy (or not so healthy) hot meal and maybe pick up something that you forgot to pack!  However, sometimes you don't get that lucky.  For the unlucky events, below is a checklist of items that you should always have in your bag.

I would suggest packing the night before or even a few days prior to your event.  Hanging your costumes in one place is a must!  I have to admit that once, only once, I forgot a costume.  Fortunately I was close enough to my home that I was able to rush back and retrieve the costume.  That and the fact that I am always early helped.  It was a team dress too!  Oye vey!  Anyway, I only made that mistake, like I said once.  Also, if you pack ahead of time it allows you plenty of time to add stuff that you may not of thought of putting in your bag or bags.  If you don't have a Rac-N-Roll or Dream Duffel bag, do yourself a favor and buy one.  Otherwise, I would suggest having a good
garment bag with zippered pockets.  I have the pictured garment bags (to the right) in addition to the Rac-N-Roll dance bag.  Having a garment bag serves a few purposes.  The first one is that it protects the costume/s.  Often the bling can catch
the delicate material of another costume and this can cause tearing issues, especially if you have any lace on your costume. It is also more convenient to carry a costume when it is protected in a bag.
The reason that I say get a garment bag with pockets is because you can compile all of the accessories and necessary shoes for each costume in one place.  This will save you the frustration of digging through a back pack, bag or whatever it is that you are using to transport all of the stuff that you need to have at a competition.

I have listed below a basic checklist that you can follow.  Always, always, always, check and double check to insure that you have all of your costumes and all of the applicable dance shoes that you will need for each performance.  You can always borrow a pair of tights, or a sewing kit or even use someone's make-up etc., but you can't ever borrow a costume or shoes!  Well maybe on a rare occasion you can borrow someone else's shoes, but I wouldn't count on that.

The one thing that I did not put on the list to bring is extra embellishments.  You should, without
hesitation, bring all applicable embellishments, ribbons or whatever you have yourself put on a costume along with matching thread or fabric glue.  You never know when you will have to do a quick and I mean quick, repair job on a costume.  If you've got the extra materials fixing or repairing a costume is easy.  There will almost always be someone in your group that can sew and will likely be happy to assist you.  It's all about being prepared.

Organize your cosmetics
                  Being organized is the key.  The less stress on the dancer the better she/he will perform.  I suggest that you get a cosmetics bag to hold all of your cosmetics and make-up brushes.   Also a separate bag to store all of your hair necessities.  No need to be fancy.  A good strong plastic bag will do.  The point is to be organized.  It's a dance competition, not a brand name who's who and who has what competition.   When you are looking for a specific item, say a bobby pin, you  don't want to be looking for a needle in a hay stack.  Separate and group items.  It's simple and it will save you lots of time and headaches.  Being organized also allows you to easily see if and when you are running low on an item.

Lastly, bring reading materials, cards, electronics and  chargers.  You can of course bring camera's. 
Remember to have extra batteries and a memory card on hand.  Most venues do not allow you to take pictures in the auditorium and you especially cannot use your flash when there is a dancer on stage.  However, you can take pictures outside of the areas where the dancers are performing.


This is just a basic list, you can add or put whatever you like in your dance bag, especially in regards to food and entertainment items.  The goal here is to get you started with a basic 'must have' list.  Enjoy your event, happy dancing and good luck!

Basic Dance competition or recital, checklist


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rac-N-Roll Dance bag vs. Dream Duffel bags & accessories


Rac-N-Roll vs Dream Duffel- Competition & recital dance bags and accessories.
Rac-N-Roll with hanging mirror
Dream Duffel with accessories



We are quickly approaching yet another hectic time of year.  
If you're a dance mom, which is probably why you would be reading this post, then you are gearing up for months of early mornings, long days and or weekends because this month, February, dance competitions officially begin.  Therefore, I thought that this would be a good time to post a comparative analysis of the now well known rolling dance bags that are a dancer's and mom's dream.

Okay- So, I'm going to give you my personal and my professional opinion on the two, the only two companies that provide, what I commonly refer to as "rolling dance closets," a term that I have coined to describe these all-in-one style traveling, on wheels, luggage racks.  Am I bias?  Yes, and here's why.

You should know that I avoided purchasing these bags for quite some time.  Frankly, they cost a lot of money and the shipping isn't free, ever.  This is due to the size of the box.  Once I finally took the plunge and had the opportunity to use the bag/rolling closet, I did a "I could of had a V-8" moment!  These bags are great.  You literally tote everything around in one convenient place.  And the wheels, wow! 

The following comparison is based on two points of view.  1.  A dance mom.  2.  A business owner and supplier of all things that pertain to dance.  It should be noted that I personally own both of these bags, thus my opinions and summaries are based on ownership, other dance moms experiences and customer feedback.

My perspective-
Both of these bags are great.  However, there are a few things that separate them and make one of them better than the other.  Both of the bags have adequate storage pockets and netted pockets for additional storage and organization of items such as hair spray, shoes, tights etc.  The Rac-N-Roll bags come in two sizes, medium and large while the Dream Duffel offers 3 sizes, small, medium and large.  They both hold anywhere from 7-15 costumes.  This solely depends on whether your costumes are bulky and poofy or are your average simple costume.  Weight is not an issue in regards to the total capacity of how many costumes either of the bags hold on the rack. Both of the bags have hooks on the inside that hold your costumes in place when the bag is in an upright position.  Both of the bags are durable, well made and roll smoothly and easily.  Both of the bags are somewhat lightweight and lastly, both of the bags boast colored and pattern options and various accessories.

The main difference-
The rack!  The key and critical component of the bag.  This is where the two bags are completely different and this is what makes the bag so desirable in the first place.  Each company has a different yet similar way in which the rack operates in regards to opening and closing, or going up and down.  The Rac-N-Roll rack has to be assembled (3 quick & easy steps) and disassembled each time you use the bag, which can be cumbersome.  The Dream Duffel rack simply, with a push of the side buttons, goes up and down, with each use.  Here's where the problem is.  The quality of the rack and how it operates!  The Rac-N-Roll bar is very sturdy as are the side bars that support the rack.  The Dream Duffel rack and the side support bars are flimsy and completely unreliable.  I must tell you that with the Dream Duffel you never know if the rack will rise to it's full height every usage or if one side will be lower than the other or whether or not the rack will go down!  It is very frustrating.  I have not once experienced these issues with the Rac-N-Roll rack.

Customer service-
When you contact customer service at Dream Duffel they will, not so politely, inform you that you can order replacement parts plus shipping.  Hello, really?  When the cost of an item is approximately $200.00 the last thing that you want to hear from the representative is that you will incur additional costs for an item that should work well in the first place. 

When you contact Rac-N-Roll you will always receive a very polite and positive response from the service representative.  I will say that if and when you need replacement parts from this company, if the product is out of warranty you will have to pay for the parts and shipping too.  However, I have yet to hear from a dance mom, or receive, from a business perspective, anyone ever having to replace any parts from a Rac-N-Roll product.

Accessories-
Indeed both companies sell accessories.  Hands down, Rac-N-Roll products are superior.  No, Rac-N-Roll does not offer all inclusive packages.  They don't need to.  They offer a hanging mirror, which is a must have, a cosmetics bag, garment bags, which I highly recommend and that's it.  The focus of Rac-N-Roll is to provide quality reliable products that are useful.  Rac-N-Roll offers the necessities, period. Dream Duffel offers fluff stuff that you don't need, won't use and honestly, the quality and usefulness is just not there.

Cost- 
Rac n Roll in Camouflage
Rac-N-Roll, the solid color bag is approximately $10.00 less than Dream Duffel.
Rac n Roll in Purple polka dots
                                                         The pattern bags
are the same price.  The shipping is based on zip code.  RNR ships via Fedex only.  DD ships via UPS only. 


Dream Duffel in purple polka dot
Conclusion-
If you want, the original, "rolling dance closet" which by the way is designed and owned by a dance mom,  is better quality and offers great customer care, then you should go with the Rac-N-Roll product.
If you want a copy (and I mean this literally), a product that has known issues and poor customer care, then go with the Dream Duffel.


If you are interested in more information or would like to purchase any Rac-N-Roll products, then you can visit my website.  I am an authorized dealer and have the lowest prices on the web for RNR products.

All About Attitude Dancewear
Rack Monsters

Saturday, January 4, 2014

How to apply Dance competition make-up. A simple 10 step diagram

Not all of us were blessed with the ability or knowledge on how to apply make-up, especially for the stage! In time, with my one page 10 step easy diagram you will become a natural at applying make-up.


In regards to colors of foundation, blush and powder, some studios have a specific brand and color palette that they require you to use.  For this reason I have not mentioned colors on the diagram. I would suggest buying a good set of brushes for applying the make-up.  Not all brushes are created equal and not all brushes serve the same purpose.   If you purchase a quality set the first time around you will save money in the long run. 
 

Blush- Which color is right for you?
I took my daughter to a make-up counter at a large department store to have her properly color matched by a professional.  The make-up artists are always happy to assist you in making choices that best suit your child's natural complexion color palette and showing you how to apply the make-up and how to choose the correct application brushes.

 Choosing colors of eye shadow- Unless your studio has a specific color requirement, you can go with the colors that either compliment the costume or simply go with shades of brown.  You don't want the eyeshadow to clash with your natural complexion or the costume. The natural look is always a safe bet.  Not everyone can wear blues or greens and there's no need to fight that.  
False eyelashes vs. Mascara-
Colors, Style & Bling can make a big impact
I have found that false eyelashes work the best, especially with the younger girls.  False eyelashes are very easy to apply, they come in colors and different types of fullness, some even have bling!  Typically I purchase the multi packages from any local store such as Walmart, Target, etc.  And yes, the lashes are reusable and you can cut them down in size to fit a smaller eye lid.  Application merely requires placing a small amount of glue on your hand.  I am right handed so I place the glue around my thumb area.  You then drag the lash across the glue and then apply to the lid.  You don't need a lot of glue, don't over do it.  The glue will dry clear so don't worry when you see a glob of white.  That's it. When you're done you just take it off. 

Mascara can be tricky to put on and it's a mess to get off.  If you go this route be sure to get
Before and after applying false eyelashes
waterproof mascara and consider also getting one that is for sensitive eyes. Lastly, you won't ever be able to get the same full lash effect that you do with false eyelashes.  But this is just my opinion.  Go with what makes you comfortable. Here's a thought. . . .all professional woman on television and stage wear false eyelashes.





Thursday, January 2, 2014

Embellishing & Blinging your Dance costume

My last post was a crash course on how to apply rhinestones to a dance competition costume.  This post will talk about other embellishments options.  As you begin your search for bling you will quickly learn that embellishing can go far beyond just rhinestones. 

A good place to start to get ideas is always online.  It's time consuming, however, pictures will spark ideas.  You CAN turn those ideas into a beautiful special and one of a kind costume. I would suggest starting with a color.  It's just as important for your costume to reflect the theme of your song and not against it.  If your costume says Cinderella and the song is The Lion King, well, you're may have issues as the judges will likely deduct points from the final score.  So, don't confuse them!

The second thing to do is go to your local fabric or hobby store such as Micheal's.  Surprisingly, you may even get lucky at Walmart.  All Walmart's have a sewing section and some have a fabric section too.  Often you will be able to find that special something that will give your costume that wow factor that it may lack.  When you can't quite find what you are looking for then be prepared to spend some time on the internet.  There is simply too much out there for a store to have and maintain inventory.
 
When you begin your online search know what you are looking for.  It is far less time consuming when you have a vision.  Stay focused and keep on track.  Bookmark pages of sites that you have visited.  You may not find that special something this time around, however, that store may be useful in the future. 

There are some online vendors who will go that extra mile.  Just call and let them know what you are looking for.  One particular  gentlemen actually walked over to the supply warehouse and took photos and sent them to me immediately.  He listened, took some pictures and guess what, he nailed it!  That's great customer service.   I would also suggest that you only buy from vendors who provide a telephone number.  Having the ability to actually speak with a representative who can assist you to insure that you get what you want can save you valuable time and money. Buying something that you wait for to arrive only to have it be useless can be frustrating.
www.trimexpoonline.com

A few key things to remember when you are looking for
Stretch floral lace
embellishments.  Stretch is best, always!  I'm a big fan of stretch sequins, stretch lace and fringe. One of my favorite online stores is www.trimexpoinline.com  They have alot of stuff!  The customer service is great and their choices are numerous.  It's a one stop shop.  Shipping can be pricey, but you are sure to find what you are looking for.

If you are attaching a non stretch embellishment to a costume, which by the way stretch's, you will lose the ability to have 100% movement.  You can however be successful in putting on non-stretch material to a costume.  Always, always, always, double the length of materials that you are going to purchase. Having extra materials is like having an insurance policy.  By doubling the amount that you think you may need will insure that you have enough.  You may also need to repair, at a moment's notice, so always carry that extra stuff along with needle, thread, scissors and glue for any unexpected repair work. 

Applying embellishments

When applying non-stretch and stretchable embellishments you will either have to spot sew or use fabric glue.  This will allow for full movement of the dancer.  Place the costume over a pillow to expand the costume to it's maximum.  Then apply, pinning first, the materials that you are using.  Take the costume off of the pillow and carefully have your dancer try on the costume.  If it looks good and moves good then you
can begin to spot sew and or glue on the embellishment materials. You will notice that when the costume retracts that there will be a puckered effect from the embellished lace or whatever you are putting on the costume.  This is a GOOD thing.  This is how you create the stretch effect with non-stretch materials and it is a MUST!
Spot sewing simply means that you sew from spot to spot rather than all the way around.  This will allow the lace, or whatever embellishment you are using to expand along with the costume.    You can also use fabric glue.  I use both as I want to insure that nothing comes off during a performance or while the child is putting on and taking off a costume.  Fabri-tac or Fabric Fusion glue is the industry standard.  It is permanent!  Be wise and be sure when you are applying your embellishment.  Once the glue drys there's no turning back or taking it off, ever.

Complete the costume.  Whether your child is wearing a headband, ribbons, barrettes or bows, you
Feathers & rhinestone glued onto barette
can embellish them.  Doing so will complete the costume.  Use the extra materials that you have placed on the costume to create your head wear.
Place on head band or barrette

Left over trim with ribbon makes a perfect head piece

Floral pieces glued onto headband
Extra stones glued onto headband