What Dancers Want: 3 Competitive High School Dancers Share Which Clothes Make Them Feel Confident at Conventions

Once a performance is over, it’s important for students to continue to shine in their convention master classes. Lara Bamberger prefers to wear just a pop of color in class, such as a matching neon hat and sneakers or a bright-colored sports bra under a loose tank.

Conventions are important opportunities for high-schoolers to be noticed by industry professionals and to audition for scholarships. But dancing among 200 others can make it hard to stand out, which is why dancers rely so much on fun, unique clothing to catch the eyes of their instructors. We interviewed three high school dancers who frequent the competition circuit about what’s trending for this coming spring season.

Lara Bamberger
Dancer at Shooting Stars NYC
New York, NY

DRN: What clothes and styles have you found work for long convention days?

LB: A couple of years ago, I went for the hair-down, baggy-sweatshirt look that was popular at the time. I quickly realized that I would be way too hot to last a whole day. So I want to stand out, but I also need to be comfortable to build confidence. I usually wear Lycra stretch leggings, just in case there is floorwork, along with a bra top and looser tank, or for hip hop I switch into a cotton T-shirt.

DRN: How do you make sure you stand out in the crowd?

LB: I’ve found a pop of color is best, rather than being the dancer in a matching neon set. So for hip hop, I might wear black leggings with a white T-shirt, and then have a neon hat and sneakers that match. I also like to wear bright-colored bra tops underneath my tanks. A lot of my wardrobe is black, white and gray, so I’m looking for darker shirts that have a bright logo on the front or a fun saying, like “cool vibes,” printed all over it.

DRN: What style trends have you been noticing at conventions?

LB: The younger students are still wearing the typical shorts and bras, but older students are wearing clothes that look more and more like streetwear. When I shop for dance bras, they’re often just too simple—I’m looking for something with mesh, or crossing straps in the back, so that it’s also a cool style to go out in after class.

Emma Wilton
Dancer at Studio RED
Rockland, ME

DRN: How do the dance clothes that you wear to your studio differ from what you wear to conventions?

EW: I normally stick to dark colors at my studio, but for conventions, I need to stand out with a brighter color on top. At the same time, really confusing patterns with lots of colors get overwhelming to look at during master classes. I like bright yellow or peach tops, as well as striped shirts that are in darker blues, grays or blacks.

DRN: What types of classes do you dress for at each convention?

EW: I mostly take jazz and lyrical/contemporary, but sometimes there’s ballet or hip hop. With ballet classes, you’re dressing to impress, and I see girls still wear the typical leotards, pink tights and sometimes a ballet skirt. I like to wear colored leotards, such as plum or light blue, with fun patterns on the back, or a plain black leotard that pinches in the front. Cotton leotards don’t hold up well when you’re working hard all day, so I prefer a Lycra/spandex blend.

DRN: Are there items that you wish dance retailers provided more of during convention season?

EW: I have trouble finding dance tank tops at stores, so I often have to shop for regular tank tops elsewhere. Ribbed tank tops are great with shorts, and flowy crop-top tanks go well with leggings. I also have trouble finding dance shorts that work for me. Usually, they’re way too short and keep riding up as I dance, so I’ve had to turn to athletic shorts that are almost biker shorts. They have a slightly higher waist, and I don’t have to worry about the length of them if they start to slide up the leg.

Danielle Shawver
Dancer at Savage Dance Company
Sykesville, MD

DRN: What time of year do you shop for convention clothes?

DS: We attend about four or five conventions throughout the spring, and I always shop for new clothes before each one. That way, I can keep up with style trends, feel confident in a great outfit and also look different for those instructors who frequent the competition circuit. The clothes I wear at my studio tend to be black or one solid color, but I’m looking in the spring season for fun colors or patterns.

DRN: What style trends have you been keeping up with this year?

DS: Leotards are really trending again, especially at convention scholarship auditions. Just wearing a leotard allows me to show off my lines the best. I like leotards with mesh cutouts and cool patterns, and I wear red a lot. I even have a black-and-white striped leotard that has a cutout in the middle. I prefer leotard fabrics that are comfortable but that also cling to my body and don’t move around a lot.

DRN: Are there accessories that you’ve found you need for long days at conventions?

DS: I bring both a backpack and a lunch bag with me, and I pack lots of healthy snacks for the day. The backpack is more supportive for my shoulders and back and has so many little pockets I can use. I have all of my hair supplies, like bobby pins, hair ties and hairspray, as well as multiple water bottles, deodorant, TheraBands and a small tennis ball to roll out my feet and legs.

Amy Smith is a dance teacher and writer in Greensboro, NC.

Courtesy of Kid Artistic Revue Competition

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