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9 Tips for Quick Changes

Costume, hair, tights, shoes, headpiece… it takes some serious skill to transform your appearance in as little as 30 seconds. Quick changes can be incredibly stressful because sometimes, the whole show is waiting on you! But never fear – I have 9 tips to make your quick change go smoothly!

1. Know the show.

When you have a quick change, you can’t waste precious time trying to remember which dance comes next. Running over to check the schedule on the wall won’t cut it either. You need to know the order of the show well enough that you won’t stress out wondering if you’re changing for the right dance.

2. Preset ALL of your costumes.

Well before the curtain opens, lay out all of your costumes in an organized fashion, wherever you will be when you’re changing. You might not have time to run back to the dressing room in-between dances, so know which costumes need to be backstage. Even if you have a change that’s not a “quick change,” it will help your stress level to be prepared ahead of time!

Pro tip: Don’t let your stuff get too spread out. Keep it in a neat, contained pile so that it doesn’t get mixed up with other people’s stuff or accidentally kicked somewhere where you won’t be able to find it when the time comes.

3. Pick a good spot to change.

The ideal quick change location is somewhere close to the stage, but enough out of the way that you won’t have swarms of traffic staring at you. When you’re presetting your costumes, check the sightlines to the audience as well. You don’t want that front row corner seat to see anything they’re not supposed to!

4. Put your name on EVERYTHING.

The last thing you want during a quick change is someone grabbing your shoes thinking they’re theirs. Having your name on everything will resolve any mix-ups and save you time!

5. Hire someone to hold a flashlight.

You may choose to have people help you or not (see tip #6), but you need at least one person to stand there silently and hold a flashlight. This is especially helpful if your costume has any detail work like buttons or lace-up shoes. Your flashlight holder can also be the person to pick up everything you’ve hurriedly thrown on the floor while you run onstage.

6. Arrange your help ahead of time.

Though they have good intentions, people swarming around you trying to help is arguably the most stressful part of quick changes. If you don’t have pre-planned helpers, you’ll waste precious time explaining to someone how the hair piece is supposed to be while someone else is getting your hair caught in the zipper because you’re stepping on their toes while you’re trying to put on your shoes. Aah!

Whether it’s a backstage helper, a friend, or your mom, figure out who’s going to help you ahead of time. Make sure they know what their duties are, and keep everyone else away. Here’s a list of quick change helper duties you can assign:

  • Flashlight holder
  • Shoe tier
  • Holder of the blanket (if you’re the modest type)
  • Protector of the personal bubble (“Give her some space!”)
  • Hair person (good job for mom!)
  • Clean up crew
  • Zipper/button/lace-up duty

7. You might not want any help.

On the other hand, having too many helpers can be completely overwhelming. If you know you can change on time without help, make sure people know to give you some space. Being constantly asked if you need help breaks your concentration, especially if the person asking is being insistent.

Have a quick phrase in mind to politely tell people to go away, such as, “I’m good, thanks,” or “No thanks, I think I’ve got it.”

8. Layer what you can.

It goes without saying that taking something off takes half as much time as taking something off and putting something on. Whenever possible, wear pieces of your second costume underneath your first. For example, you could wear pink tights underneath tan tights.

Pro tip: You can also “layer” hair (no pun intended). If you need to go from a bun to half-up-half-down, start by putting your hair half-up-half-down, then gather the rest of the hair into a ponytail for your bun. Then when you take the bun out, only remove the one hair tie and your hair’s all ready for your next dance!

9. Plan what to wear underneath.

As you change from costume to costume, people are sure to see more of you than you’d probably like. Most dance studios will let you wear a nude leotard under your costume, but some costumes might require different undergarments (think crop tops). If you don’t want to flash everybody while you’re changing, consider investing in a nude bra with clear straps and nude underwear. You can wear those under pretty much everything. If for some reason you do have to change undergarments, you can always have someone hold up a blanket (see tip #6).

Pro tip: If you’re wearing a nude leotard under all of your costumes, wear your tights over your leotard so you can change without having to completely undress.

Have any more quick change advice? What’s your quick change horror story? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Post Author: nicole

Welcome to Dance Insight!

Thanks for stopping by Dance Insight! We’re a blog dedicated to helping emerging and aspiring dance professionals thrive in their artistic careers. My name is Nicole, and I’m so glad you’re here! Click the picture above to learn more about us. Happy dancing!

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