One of our seasoned chaperones a mum of 3 girls here at Elite has popped together a few tips for the day from her experience!

Chaperone letter

Thank you for offering your time to chaperone the dancers on Sunday 24th March at The Wycombe Swan Theatre for Elite’s 2019 Annual Showcase. Your time is really appreciated. As a parent who has been a chaperone for many years, I thought it would be useful to give my perspective on being a chaperone and pass on some tips I have learnt over the years. I hope you find the day as fun, interesting, and rewarding as I do!

On the day, we need to arrive at pickup point (TBC) by 8.15 am. The coaches depart 8.20 am. You will be assigned your dressing room group and which coach you will be travelling on. You don’t need to worry about this, as this is all sorted by the dance school for you. As a chaperone, you may not be with your own children, this is often to ensure the correct number of chaperones to dancers. If there are specific reasons for needing to be with your child then this should be discussed with Miss Hayley. The coaches are for all dancers and chaperones, so that we will arrive at the same time and can get ready for the day.

At the theatre, each dressing room group (dancers and chaperones) will go to their designated area. It is helpful for the dancers to each have their own space in the dressing room area to organise themselves. The chaperones for each dressing room group are given an information pack, which includes:

  • the running order of the dances with outfits and hairstyles
  • the dancers in each dance
  • highlights which dancers are in your dressing room group for each dance
  • highlights which dancers are in your dressing room group for each dance with a quick change.

This gives you, as chaperones, an order of what you need to be doing throughout the day for each dance.

There is always a full dress rehearsal at the theatre in the morning. This is important for the dancers to get used to the stage, lights and music, but also helps you as a chaperone know what is needed for the performances.

Miss Hayley always says ‘if you don’t see me panicking, then there is no need for you to panic’. How right she is. I add this because every show I have chaperoned at, there have been some mini issues. These have ranged from a dancer forgetting their dance shoes or even a whole outfit, to crying with nerves, to not having any drink, and on one occasion even a full blown nose bleed! Things do happen. This is why we always need to have the correct number of chaperones at all times in each dressing room group, and when supervising dancers backstage. We are not expected to be first aiders, these are covered separately, but we are there to keep the dancers calm, organised, and safe, oh and have some fun along the way.

I am always amazed by how calm the dance teachers are, how organised the whole show day is, and above all how the dancers understand what they need to do and just get on, the exception being the younger years, where they will need more hand holding. Overall it is a great experience.

The full dress rehearsal will go quickly and before you know it the matinee performance will be underway; it sounds obvious but check the dancers are drinking and suggest they eat some lunch as soon as the full dress rehearsal finale is done. Chaperones for the matinee stay at this point and evening chaperones will go to grab their seats before the matinee performance starts. This is normal, and while some chaperones leave after the morning, the number of chaperones to dancers remains within the required ratio.

I usually ask the dancers to keep their areas tidy and not leave food and rubbish lying around, since we cannot leave the theatre in a mess at the end of the day.

As a chaperone, you can expect to:

  • take groups of dancers to the toilets
  • take groups of dancers to the stage door and keep the noise to a quiet level so that the audience cannot hear any chatter from backstage!
  • ensure all dancers have correct outfits and hairstyles for each dance
  • help dancers with hair – smoothed down and sprayed (no fly-away hair)
  • help find missing shoes and outfits between dances – always the odd one in the wrong place.

Usually there are several chaperones all with different skills, so you end up dividing these jobs between you within your group.

Pack yourself drink, snacks and even a light lunch. We need to vacate the Theatre between the two performances, this is usually around 3.30–5.15 pm. I always book a table at a pub or restaurant to give my girls dinner in between the two performances, and meet family who have also come to watch. However, you don’t need to do this as there is usually somewhere to grab food. For the evening performance the matinee chaperones are usually watching and the evening chaperones take over – there are sometimes a few chaperones there all day.

So, what else is in my chaperone bag?

  • bottle of water and/or a flask of tea/coffee
  • wipes – messy food or make-up accidents!
  • jelly sweets/mints – a little pick me up
  • small sewing kit, scissors, cellotape – I have spent many shows sewing seams and rips!
  • plasters – no one wants blood on dance outfits 😉
  • spare hair grips, ballet bun nets and hairspray
  • pen, coloured pencils and notepad
  • lip balm, hand cream and paracetamol (for my use).

These are not expected from you as a chaperone, but as a parent of three girls I always have these anyway.

I hope you find this helpful. Here’s to show day! JJJ

Zoe ( Mum to 3 Elite Dancers)