The Checklist of Champions: Getting Organized Before Nationals

Imagine that you’re standing in the wings at Nationals, ready to rock your tap number. Just as you’re about to step onto the stage, your elbow-length glove slides down to your wrist. Panic sets in as you realize you forgot to bring double-stick tape to secure your gloves, and you won’t be able to keep them in place once you start moving around onstage!

From accessory bloopers to forgotten props, the list of things that can go awry at Nationals isn’t a short one. But, by planning ahead and packing carefully, you can ensure that you’ll have everything you need on competition day. Being prepared is part of being professional, so summon your inner Girl Scout and follow this comprehensive checklist to avoid Nationals nightmares.

Note: Specific needs vary from dancer to dancer, so be sure to check with your teacher to find out what else you should add to this list.

Grooming Gear


__Makeup mirror

__Makeup and nail polish remover

__Hairbrush and comb

__Bobby pins in various colors and sizes

__Hair elastics

__Hair clips


__Hair gel

__Curling iron


__False eyelashes and lash glue

__Cotton swabs and facial tissues

__Clear deodorant


__Topical heat rub


__Elastic bandages

__Adhesive bandages


__Alcohol swabs

__Instant ice packs

__Tampons or pads

Performance Essentials




__Hair accessories


__Garment bags or zip-close bags for each costume

__A collapsible costume rack and hangers

__Tights (bring extras!)

__Practice shoes and/or foot thongs

__Warm-up and rehearsal clothing

__Shoe polish

__Safety pins

__Clear nail polish (in case you get a run in your tights)

__Sewing kit

__Instant stain remover

Healthy Must-Haves

__Water bottle

__Electrolyte-filled fluids like Gatorade, coconut water or Smartwater

__High-energy snacks like sandwiches, veggies, sunflower seeds, almonds and grapes

The Best of the Rest

__Your team jacket or sweats

__Street clothes

__Street shoes

__Bras and underwear


__Dance bag and laundry bag for already-worn items

__Markers for labeling items


__Camera and iPod

__List of important contact numbers and addresses

__Spending money

__Good-luck charm (if you have one)

Latest Posts

Meet the dancers of MDC3: Madi Smith, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Mather (left to right). Photo by Joe Toreno. Hair by Marina Migliaccio and makeup by Lisa Chamberlain, both for the Rex Agency.

Meet MDC3: The "World of Dance" Winners Who Defied the Odds

In March 2020, the same day the "World of Dance" cast got word that production would be shutting down due to a global pandemic, MDC3 artists Madison (Madi) Smith, Diego Pasillas and Emma Mather stood shoulder to shoulder onstage, bracing to hear the final results of the competition. The champion title and $1 million prize money were within reach, decided entirely by the three celebrity judges sitting in front of them. As their competitor's scores dropped from the lips of Derek Hough, Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo at roughly 2 percentage points below their own, viewers watched realization dawn. MDC3's mouths dropped into gigantic Oh's before their hands slapped over their faces in disbelief. Sparklers shot up while confetti rained down, and the announcer shouted, "MDC3, you are the winner of 'World of Dance'!"

It was an impressive accomplishment for any group of dancers, let alone three teenagers who'd faced rejection from the show three times over. Despite their youth (Madi is 18, Diego is 17 and Emma is 16), this moment was hard earned through years of dedicated patience.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Mason Evans assisting at New York City Dance Alliance in Orlando, FL (Evolve Photo & Video, courtesy Mason Evans)

5 Dancers Share What It's Really Like to Return to Competitions Right Now

For the first time since the coronavirus hit the U.S., competitions and conventions are meeting in-person once again (brimming with safety precautions, of course), and dancers couldn't be more thrilled.

We asked five standout comp kids about their recent experiences attending competitions around the country—and how they're taking advantage of these long-lost opportunities.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Because the future of Black dance is happening right now (Braylon Browner photographed by Rhiannon Lee, courtesy Braylon Browner)

Celebrating Black Futures Month: 4 Up-and-Coming Black Dancers Making History Right Now

Throughout the month of February, many Americans celebrate Black History Month, a period of the year dedicated to honoring the contributions of Black figures to American culture and society.

The lesser-known Black Futures Month, which is also celebrated in February—and often in conjunction with BHM—looks to art and artists to envision an equitable future for Black Americans. At Dance Spirit, we're celebrating #BlackFuturesMonth by spotlighting four young Black dancers whose dance journeys are proving that the future of Black dance is bright.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search