Set up a quick-change booth on the side of the stage.
Anyone with a fast change—fewer than three numbers between dances—sets up a paper bag with the quick-change costume, clearly labeled. “We determine all the quick changes beforehand,” says Carole Royal of Royal Dance Works in Phoenix. “We usually have enough room for eight people in the booth.” Two veteran adults are in charge of the actual changing. No such booth at your venue? Just put up curtains with some PVC pipe on the side stage.
It’s all about under-layering, training and strategic tools.
Dancers must layer undergarments correctly (so that tights, for example, can be stripped off to reveal those required for the next number). If it’s a mom’s first time quick-changing, pair her with an old-timer. “Choose moms who are calm in nature and work well under stress—no Nervous Nellies!” warns former studio owner Danie Beck. “We have one mom work on the top of the body and the other concentrate on the bottom, and eventually they meet in the middle.” She suggests having everything a changer could possibly need at her fingertips at each quick-change station, like a hand stapler and scissors.
Tip: Put your babies in white ankle socks and underwear instead of tights. Joanne Chapman of Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario, swears it’ll save you time spent wrangling toddlers in and out of tights between numbers. “Plus, since you’re not stripping them naked, you don’t get the drama from parents of, ‘No one’s changing my child but myself!'” she says.