How to Pack a Competition Dance Bag

Competition season is here!  After all the time spent preparing for competition, it should be a fun, rewarding experience both for the dancers and the parents.  One way to help ensure you have a great experience is to make sure you have a well-packed competition bag.  Realizing you have forgotten your shoes, tights, or part of your costume at competition is stressful, and it doesn’t create a fun, positive experience.  From packing my own competition bags to now packing bags for my daughters, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips over the years.  Hope these tips will help you feel better prepared for some great competition experiences ahead of us this year.

Tip 1 – Punch a hole in a large ziploc bag.  I like to reinforce the area with packing tape before I punch the hole.  You can write your child’s name on the bag and/or hair style info. or specific instructions for that dance.  I then place all items needed for that dance in the bag such as tights, hair accessories, hats, gloves, etc.  This works both to keep your items organized as well as to make your child’s name very visible as costumes get mixed up backstage sometimes.

At Center Stage in Leander, we recommend hanging all accessories with your dance costume.

Tip 2 – Visually go down the body to ensure you have everything packed.

Head – Know how your child’s hair should be fixed.  Pack hair ties, bobby pins, hairspray, and hairbrush.  Does your child have a hat or hair piece?  If so, place it in the Ziploc bag.

Face – Remember to pack your competition make up.  Check with your child’s teacher for any specifics.  Older dancers usually wear false eyelashes, so don’t forget to pack those.  Remember to remove earrings and only wear jewelry that is specified by your child’s teacher.

Body – Check all pieces of your child’s costume to ensure proper fit before competition.  Make any alterations necessary.  If your costume has small extra pieces like briefs or a bra top, place those in the Ziploc bag.  I suggest steaming your costume before competition.

Legs – Make sure you have the right color/style of tights packed.  I recommend buying 2 new pair of tights for competition in each color you need.  Ripped tights at competition will cause stress.  If you don’t use the extra pair, you can always use them in class after competition.

Feet – Shoes!  In my years of teaching, we have had students forget their tap shoes for a tap dance or forget their pointe shoes for a pointe dance.  Check that your shoes fit properly.  I recommend cleaning leather ballet shoes, jazz shoes, and tap shoes with a baby wipe or cleaning wipe.  It makes them look like new.

Tip 3 – Look over each costume, accessories, tights, and shoes before placing them all in your bag.


Tip 4 – Include some “emergency” items too.  I suggest packing safety pins, band-aids, nail polish remover (no painted nails), make up remover wipes, water bottles, and clean snacks.

Tip 5 – Bring clothes to change into after competition.  Remember to bring your team warm-up suit for the awards ceremony and when watching other dancers between your dances.  You may want to bring some comfy clothes to travel home in.  This may sound strange, but be sure to pack underwear.  If you come to competition in your tights, you might forget to bring some to change into at the end of the day.  (No panties under tights!)

Tip 6 – Bring items to make your dressing area comfortable.  Some students like to bring a blanket to sit on while doing make up.  At Center Stage, we like to make team signs to hang up in our dressing area too.  If you have several dances, you may want to consider purchasing one of the dance garment bags with pop-up clothing racks like the one pictured below.  They are expensive ($150-$200).  I ordered one this year, so I can give a better review after this competition season.  If you have several dances, it may be worth it to keep all of your costume changes organized.

Many of our competitive dancers at Center Stage in Leander use bags like this to organize their dance costumes and dance shoes.


hair accessories and styling products including bobby pins, hair ties, hairbrush, and hairspray

costume – all pieces

tights – extra pairs


warm-up suit

company make up including false eyelashes if required

safety pins, band-aids, nail polish remover, make up remover wipes, water bottles, and clean snacks

clothes to change into at the end of the day

small blanket and dressing room signs (optional)

Hope this helps as you pack your child’s dance competition bag.  Do you all have any suggestions or items I forgot to share with other readers?  Happy packing!


Voted Best Dance Studio in Cedar Park/Leander!
Providing quality dance classes to the Leander/Cedar Park/Liberty Hill area since 2004


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