As you look towards this coming dance team competition season, you should take some to time to reflect on your costumes from last year.

How successful were your dance team costumes? Were they considered ‘perfect’ by all?

Or were they somewhat lacking in their styling, fit, construction and/or their suitability for your team?

What makes a successful dance team costume?

Here are some things to think about, in regards to your previous costumes, before you design any new costumes for your upcoming season:

  1. Did your costumes arrive on time?
  2. Did your team have time to practice in your new costumes, and get acquainted with any possible quirks and limitations, while performing?
  3. Did your costumes fit everyone well? Or did you need to make arrangements for alterations?
  4. Did your dancers feel great in their costumes or did they feel uncomfortable (because of bad fit or bad design?
  5. Did your costumes look great on your dancers – no matter their size or shape?
  6. Did your team members, booster parents and school personal like your costumes? Or did anyone feel uncomfortable with or confused by your costumes.
  7. Did your costumes enhance your dance routine (rather than distract from it?)
  8. Did your costumes give great visuals for the performance story?
  9. Was your team costume an integral part of your performance?
  10. Were other teams wearing similar if not the exact costume as your team was wearing?
  11. Did your costumes stand out against your stage or performance floor background or did they blend in?
  12. Did your costumes fit into your team costume budget?
  13. Did your costumes survive your season without falling apart?
  14. Will your costumes be able to be used for future performances with an alternate theme, or in good enough condition to sell or loan to another team, next year?

The concept and then the design of your upcoming dance team costumes is very important. Once you feel you have the best design plan, then you need to execute with a viable source – with a custom costume manufacturing company or with a trusted semi-professional or hobby costume sewer if you determine that you can’t buy ‘off the rack’ (from catalog companies). Will ‘customizable’ work for your dance team?

In addition to our ‘customizable’ styles, now available in our www.shop.satinstitches.com

Web Store, Satin Stitches Ltd has been providing our custom costume manufacturing service for nearly 40 years.  We have 3 professional costume designers on staff to help you to create a sensational costume for your team.

We have seen trends come and go, and have continued to learn new manufacturing techniques to supplement ‘tried and true’ methods, to create costumes with incredible quality. Besides all the thought that goes into new styles, we continue to write articles and blogs about many costume design and care issues. We have these posted on our website at www.satinstitches.com/blog, linked to our FaceBook page and attached to each of our Monthly e-Newsletters in the form of our popular “Hot Costume Care Tips”. If you haven’t been receiving these, you can read the latest postings and sign up at www.satinstitches.com/costume-enews.

Additionally, perhaps you aren’t aware that Satin Stitches offers more size options than anyone else. We offer 6 sizes between XS and XL, not 5, and we offer SHORT, MEDIUM, and LONG torso/sleeve and leg lengths to better fit ALL members of your dance team!

We create your sample/prototype after you have placed your order and you have the opportunity to critique that sample and make any changes necessary to make sure your new costumes fit into YOUR vision of what they should look like, how they fit, and how they will be perceived by your performance audience, to make your costume design a perfect team performance costume.

Another specific to Satin Stitches, is our GUARANTEED Delivery Schedule that you can check out, in order to plan ahead at www.satinstitches.com/pro-dance-cheer-team-costume-delivery-policy.

When you place your order with Satin Stitches by a certain date, we guarantee that you will receive delivery when you expect. You will never get an email or a phone call at the last minute saying “oh, sorry, but we can’t delivery by your delivery date, after all”. You can count on Satin Stitches to deliver!

Hopefully, this information will give you ideas to think about, for your upcoming 2017-2018 season! After all, it’s only a few months down the road!





The Blaine Fall Dance Team is taking the phrase “Walking a mile in their shoes” a step further.  This team comprised of 77 dancers will participate in a shoe drive fundraiser through the end of July.  Funds raised go to their Booster Club and help offset costs for the season.  More importantly, though, is the opportunity to pay it forward and help thousands of people in need of shoes.

The team is working with an organization called funds2orgs.com.  At the end of the shoe drive, funds2orgs.com will collect and weigh all of the donated shoes. The team is given a check based off the weight of the shoes collected.  Funds2orgs.com will then send the shoes to communities within developing countries, like Haiti, where they can be sold or traded for goods.

According to funds2orgs.com, shoes are one of the most valuable items to own in Haiti and are a valuable part of their commerce.  In Haiti, students are required to have a black pair of shoes in order to attend class.  Often times, parents paint shoes black just so their children can attend school.  Shoes are also vital in developing countries to prevent disease and infection.

The Blaine Fall Dance Team’s goal is to collect 7,500 pair of gently used or new shoes.  The shoes cannot have rips, tears, or holes and the soles must be in tact.  They are collecting men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes.

If you would like to donate shoes and help this great cause, they have a drop off location at

Blaine Fire Station #3
11920 Ulysses St. NE
Blaine, MN 55434
(763) 767.4003




When spring starts rolling in, we know you’ve already started planning for next season. First step: form your team. Second step: team apparel! Are you trying to find some fun ideas for apparel besides the standard shirt and spirit jersey from your local t-shirt shop?  Check out a few of our favorite trends for dance team warm-ups and practice apparel below!

  1. Mesh Galore

From workout wear to team apparel, mesh is everywhere!  Insets of mesh, full mesh shirts, large hole mesh textures, you name it!  Our new favorite leggings have a stripe of mesh for an extra on-trend detail, along with team lettering of course!

  1. A Versatile, Slim Fit Jacket

We know you have one:  that perfect fitting jacket you want to wear everywhere.  It’s contoured with a little added length, and just putting it on makes you feel stylish and motivated to get to cycle class!

So who’s to say your favorite yoga jacket should only live inside the gym?!  Add a little lettering, and bam, you have the perfect warm-up jacket you know the whole team will love.

  1. Essentialism

We’ve been getting into the minimalist mindset lately.  Like the capsule wardrobes and the KonMarie Method trends, it’s about eliminating the fluff, and getting to the good stuff.  Consider stylish things you can repurpose for a variety of activities, in high quality materials that will stand up to wear.  So, slim down your team’s wardrobe (and maybe even your budget) to make room for the highest quality pieces that could work for practice, camp, or game day!

  1. The Bomber Jacket

The bomber jacket has fully infiltrated ready-to-wear fashion, and it’s the perfect dance team accessory as well.  Stylish enough to amp up your hip hop game, yet roomy enough to fit over your jazz costume as a warm-up jacket.  It’ll be the cutest, most flexible piece in your team’s wardrobe!

  1. Bold Leggings

Did we mention we love leggings?  Basic black leggings make an everyday appearance here at the office, but when it comes to team apparel, the bolder the better! Ombres, oversized graphics, a mix of textures, and diagonal lines make for some unique bottoms. Perfect for practice or paired with a warm-up jacket for those chilly Friday night light game days.

How will you incorporate these team apparel trends into your team’s warm-ups this year? For more dance costume and cheer uniform trends, check out our Ultimate Trends Guide: http://info.thelineup.com/2017-trends-guide-dance




Congratulations to the 16-17 Scholarship Winners

The Minnesota Association of Dance Teams annually recognizes female, high school senior dance team athletes who possess exemplar qualities.  Exemplar qualities include distinguished competitions on the local and/or state levels, as well as academic achievement, community involvement and participation in MADT activities including the Student Convention and All-State. The recipient of this award will receive a scholarship of $500. The MADT Board of Directors would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the scholarship winners from the Class of 2017!


Leah Boudreau-Essay, A Leap into Life

Dance has given me the drive and ambition to become the best scholar that I can be. Through dance, I’ve learned the importance of setting goals and accomplishing them. In a dance season I spend 17 weeks focused on one goal; improvement. Our goal as a team is to always improve our scores from the last competition. Being able to persistently work towards a goal is something I have acquired through dance.I’m able to use the skills I have learned through dance at school as well. I set goals for myself to improve my grades and exam scores. Because of dance, I have become a more reliable and motivated student.

Dance has also taught me how to be a leader and role model. I have always had a passion for choreography and formations. I was given the opportunity to be a part of the choreography team my sophomore year and a two-year captain.

Since then I have dedicated my entire life to dance. I am constantly thinking about how my actions will affect the team and always behaving in the best interest of my teammates. I now know that leadership doesn’t come easily, and one must work hard to be successful. As a leader on my team, I decided to take my leadership to the extra step, by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant last summer because I wanted to contribute to my community. Currently I work at a senior living facility caring for elderly residents with dementia. I am honored to have the opportunity to become a leader in my community and I have my dance experience to thank for those skills I have acquired.

Dance has guided my personal goals and given me a purpose and the feeling of satisfaction when meeting a goal. Now, I find myself competing in every aspect of my life. Not always with other people, but with myself. Everyday I wake up and strive to be better than I was yesterday. I have been very successful doing so; my grades in school have improved, I am more involved with my family and helping around the house, I value and think about my future constantly, and I love to volunteer not only at my school but internationally.

The most important lesson I have learned from dance team is to not wish my time away. Since my first season on dance team, I have always been wishing for the next best thing. I wished for the next competition, the next season, and the next pasta dinner. I wished to become a better dancer, and I wished to be on varsity. I wished to become a choreographer, a captain, and eventually a senior. But now, when I have gotten all the moments I’ve wished for, I wish that I had never wished my time away. I have learned to live in the present, and enjoy the wonderful people and things I surround myself with.


Bryanna Sandvik-Essay, Dance Team

When I was a little girl, there was nothing I wanted more than to be a ballerina. I’d like to think that I have accomplished it because of being on the dance team. Dance has always been something that was a part of my life. I was a part of Miss Leann’s Academy of Dance from the age of 3 to 5 and then Fusion Dancy Company from the age of 5 to 10. When I learned from a friend of mine that our school offered a dance team in junior high, I knew I had to join.

At the beginning of my dance career, I had no idea how much it would impact me in the end. Words cannot describe how glad I am that I decided to join dance team in the 7th grade.   One of the biggest influences it has had on me is it has taught me that hard work and dedication are key. Dance has never been something that came to me easily. It was always something I had to work my hardest on, to get to the point at where I am now.

I am truly blown away at how much I have grown over the years. Dedication is the one thing one must have when in a sport such as dance. From drilling, learning technique, and helping my teammates, dedication to succeed is what helped drive me through it all. Dedication has driven me so far in dance as well as my academic career. My high academics are all due to the refusal of giving up when something does not come easy to me.

Dance has taught me to never give up on myself. Not just when dancing but in many other things as well. My academics and other extracurricular activities are proof that I refuse to give up on myself. I am so thankful for being so determined with everything I do as the results in the end are always the best.

When my head coach, Jenny, asked me for some words of advice for the underclassmen for senior night, I came to an epiphany. The advice I gave was: “Don’t give up. It’s so worth it at the end of the day. Keep striving for improvement. When you look back on it all and you see how much you’ve grown over time, it brings one of the most amazing feelings ever.” I truly don’t think I would have been able to think of something like that if it hadn’t been for dance. The experience over the years with my team has really grown me into a better person. This reason is why I always get so excited when I hear that someone is thinking of doing dance because it influences yourself and life in so many different and amazing ways.


Madi Klein-Essay

Everyone hopes for once in a lifetime opportunities; mine was being able to dance on the Austin Packer Dance Team for the last 5 years. This team is not just a group of girls who get together and dance. It’s a family, where we learn how to succeed and fail as one. APDT taught me how to be a leader and team player. It pushed me to achieve my goals, both academically and on the dance floor. APDT kept me motivated, taught me many lessons, and showed me failing is okay. Many of the lessons I learned from APDT apply to everyday life. When times get tough, never give up because the result is always worth it. Something I refuse to have are regrets. APDT taught me that if you give 110% in everything you do, you will never have regrets. This team has taught me how to set goals and strive to achieve them. APDT is not just a dance team, it has taught me many life lessons that I can apply to my academics as well as my everyday life.

APDT has pushed me to work hard in school. Since APDT is so time-consuming, it made me understand the importance of time management. I am a full time PSEO student, which frees time during the day, but also makes me study longer. Dance taught me to be committed to my school work and always try my best. It taught me that you will never know your fullest potential unless you try. School is not always easy, but you must push through. Always give your best effort the first time, because the second time is always harder. My coach and the girls have all pushed me to be the best I can be, both athletically and academically.

APDT has also influenced the way I look at life, showing me how to look at the world more positively. It has shown me that failing/not winning is okay. You must get back on your feet and learn from it. APDT has taught me the importance of individuality. If you have the chance to be different then everyone else, do it and don’t be shy. APDT influenced the way I think of myself. Dance has made me more confident in who I am. Dance has influenced my life in many ways. There are no words to describe that feeling.

The Austin Packer Dance Team is one of a kind and I am proud to say I was a part of it for five years. We may not have won every competition or received medals at state, but I feel that made me a stronger person. APDT taught me many lessons that I will use for the rest of my life. APDT taught me about commitment and dedication in practice as well as the classroom. It motivated me to be a better athlete and student. APDT influenced me to be a better person and pushed me to my fullest potential on and off the dance floor.


McKaia Ryberg-Essay

The great philosopher Wayne Dyer, once said; “When you dance, it is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” To me, my dance career as a Minnesota high school dancer has followed this quote respectively. Along my high school dance journey as part of the BOLD Divas Dance Team, I have learned more about myself, others, and my future goals than I have learned in any other aspect of my life. Mostly, Dance Team has given me reasons to believe I have the potential of doing world changing things. My involvement and commitment to Dance Team over six years has taught me the meaning of perseverance, determination, and dedication and has passed those skills on to all other areas of my life.

While there may be challenges presented at times, I have learned and grown from every aspect of Dance Team. I have found that the values I hold important were first initiated with being committed to the Dance Team. These were not just important values or traits that were applicable to dance, instead I carried these skills on to my academic work, my relationships with

family and friends, and the way that I live my life. Being part of any team requires dedication, and I fully accepted that role and continue to practice it daily through the other parts of my life. When school work starts to get hard, and challenges are presented to me, I can work through any difficulties with determination and perseverance, from my experience as a dancer. Dance has encouraged me to keep my grades high, and my ambitions large… because both are achievable with hard work.

I am a current Post-Secondary Education Option Student, and my future plans include double Majoring with a minor in two years. Looking back, I never would have believed I could graduate high school with a large amount of college credits, and then graduate college in two years. However, I have been a firsthand witness of what hard work and perseverance looks like, as a dancer. I now know, that no goal is too large to accomplish. And I also know, that each step of the way is just as important as the desired final moment. Dance Team has taught me that you cannot just end the last dance move strong, for it to be a winning dance. Each movement through the dance must be done with as much energy, passion, and strength as the next. Similarly, this has translated to my life. I have learned that doing every little thing completely, with energy, passion, and strength creates success.

For me, being part of the Dance Team was more than joining just another sports team. It encouraged me to find it in myself to work hard when practices got long, and when life threw unexpected hurdles in my path. Dance Team has impacted me immensely in the other areas of my life, because it has empowered me to be a strong, independent, and hard- working individual.


Cassandra Keough-Essay

My name is Cassandra Keough, I have been a member on the Bagley Dance Team for six years and a captain for four. Throughout my experience Dance has made me who I am today by teaching me an incredible amount of important lessons. It has taught me to appreciate beauty in its purest sense, the importance of discipline and determination in all areas of my life and it has taught me that one should never stop learning. If you give something your all, the benefits are immeasurable which is something most dancers, like myself learn relatively young. It has taught me to appreciate diversity both in styles of dance and in the individuals I meet. The importance of being a team player and how to lead others by example are both valued attributes that I developed on my team. It has taught me that performing is about sharing and perhaps bringing a smile to someone’s face. Most importantly, it has taught me to never, ever, give up and that anything is possible if you follow your passion.

During my time on the Bagley Dance Team, our schedule was very busy. We participated in the State Tournament my seventh and eighth grade years which meant we had to practice hard and often to stay competitive. Throughout my ninth grade year to senior year we remained highly competitive and although we missed the state trip by one placing each year our practice and competition schedule remained grueling. Having five morning practices a week (preferred by our team), studio practices, jobs and weekend meets left little time for homework and sleep, like every dancer knows. This is where the time management and dedication comes into play. Although it was difficult at times, I personally wouldn’t have changed a thing because pushing through and being organized lead me to complete any task at hand in academics, maintain good grades along with attendance.

Education is our foundation and there are many reasons why it is purposeful. Dance has helped create a drive within myself to use education to develop intellect, serve social needs, contribute to the economy, to create an effective work force, to prepare for a career, and to promote a particular social or political system. In doing so, I am seeking this MADT Scholarship because it is extremely beneficial in continuing my education.

In holding leadership positions throughout school, dance teams, volleyball teams and community involvement throughout my life (i.e. Student Council President, Team Captain, Church functions, Rotary, and American Legion), I have learned the importance of doing for others, taking the initiative to get things accomplished and the skills needed to motivate people. I believe these roles have been crucial in my development of a student, leader, and dancer. In many situations I know what needs to be done and step up to take the initiative in accomplishing the task. Friends, family and employers have told me that I am an empathic, hardworking, and driven person.

In conclusion, dance for me is physical, emotional and intellectual. Being on a dance team has taught me to push myself. My teammates and I motivated each other to grow at every practice, so when competition time came, we all were our very best. Being on the team has let me continue to share my talents, improve my dancing and make lasting connections in the dance world. Thank you for your consideration of my application, If I were to receive the award, I know it will greatly benefit my future.




This time of the year, dance team coaches are recovering and regrouping after a full schedule of competing. Does anyone REALLY want to be thinking ahead to your next season?

I know that the most dedicated coaches ARE already thinking about next fall/winter and starting to plan for another year. At Satin Stitches, we are doing the same. We just completed our last-minute deliveries for dance teams across the country – who have a slightly later season than here in the Mid-West, where late January and into February signals the end of our competitive year. Teams that are allowed the opportunity to compete nationally may still be competing. But here in Minnesota, all your dance team shoes are stored until later in the summer.

At Satin Stitches, we wrap up our crazy-busy season and then start taking some time to regroup. We dig into all the tasks that we left by the wayside when all we were really concerned with, was to get each order ready for pick up, or shipped out in time for our client’s performance schedule.

At Satin Stitches, we offer our ‘Early Bird’ discounts every spring. We started these discounts a couple of decades ago, and savvy, budget-minded dance teams know this, and plan their new costume purchases around these annual discounts.

To maintain our high standards of quality, we need to keep our talented patternmaking, cutting, sewing and embellishing team members employed year-round. We offer these special discounts to keep our talented employees busy. It’s a ‘win-win’ for all!

Our full 15% Discount just ended when we turned the last calendar page, but we still have 12.5% OFF until March 15th, 10% OFF until March 31, 7.5% OFF until April 14th, 5% OFF until April 28th and 2.5% OFF until May 16th. These special ‘Early Bird’ discounts are on top of any and all of our year-round discounts.

And the best part is that you don’t need to have your sizes chosen until 5-weeks AFTER you place your order – this gives you time to field your new team or just have time to contemplate what the best size range will be. As always, we provide a prototype/sample for you to critique AND a full set of generic Sizing Samples to have your team try on, to help you to pick your sizes.

So keep ahead of the game and design your new team costumes for next season and SAVE money besides. It will keep your late summer/fall less hectic.

With the previous competitive season fresh in your mind, now is the perfect time to work with our very talented staff on designing NEW costumes for your team! Email us your ideas so we can embellish them and create your next perfect team costume!




A Wish Come True has been a family-owned company or over 25 years. Located in Bristol, Pennsylvania, right outside of Philadelphia, we are proudly Made in America! We are committed to outfitting you in the highest quality costumes – with quality fabrics, unique designs and all the sparkle and shine you can handle.

And we are the perfect resource for affordable dance team uniforms, cheer outfits and kick line costumes. Designs made to make your team stand out and look amazing at competitions, on the court or on the football sidelines.

Our 2017 Dance Team Catalog includes some exciting new features we cannot wait to share with our customers! New sublimated printed styles, comfortable warm ups and new high-end appliques!

Sublimated Styles

This year we are introducing Ultra Impress Sublimated Printed styles. Made with our new high tech moisture-wicking dryfit fabric that will keep your dancers dry during their performances. Completely customize your team’s uniforms with dresses, tops and bottoms, available in 3 different patterns (Liberty, Endurance & Finesse), with hundreds of color combination options, logos and lettering.

Warm Ups

Keep your dance team looking sharp before the competition starts with our new Warm Up & Athleisure jackets, tops and bottoms! Most styles are made with our moisture-wicking dryfit fabrics to keep you fresh and comfortable all through practice. Stylish lines, fashion-forward fabrics and attention to detail will put your team ahead of the competition before they take the stage. And don’t forget to customize your colors with our TrueColors Design Tools and by adding dazzling appliques.

Complete Customization

We’re always adding more ways to customize your dance team uniforms. First we brought you our TrueColor Design Tools to help you create your costume, your way.  Pick a style and then customize it with the exact color combination you want! Then we added high-end appliques.

Add your team’s name or mascot with glitter foil, sparkle dot, rhinestuds. rhinestones or embroidery appliques in a variety of colors. Now we added style-specific appliques that add that extra wow factor and sparkle to the costume. And even add icicle fringe to twirl styles for another showstopping detail.

Make your uniforms uniquely you with a ‘Wish’!

A Wish Come True



We know that planning for an upcoming season can be a challenging yet exciting time!  When it comes to your team’s dance costumes, there are many questions. Where do you start?  What information do you need!  Luckily it’s pretty simple.  All you need to get started with designing a dance costume are these four things: budget, time frame, quantity, and concept.  Read on to learn more!!

1. Budget
Understanding what your team can afford is the first step in planning your next costume.

When working with your favorite costume company, the first question they will ask is, “What’s your budget?”  Even though you may just want to see how much your vision will cost, it’s highly recommended you know your budget ahead of time.

If you don’t it can potentially result in wasted time for both parties. A lot of time can be spent designing your exact vision, only for it to come out to a price that is unattainable. It’s best to start with what you know you can afford and work from there. You will save the most time in the long run!

“What if I don’t know my budget yet?”

If it’s still too early for you to determine your budget, try to base it off of last year. Or if your members will be paying for their own uniform, ask them what they are comfortable with. It’s better to start with a rough budget range instead of nothing at all.

2. Delivery Date

Keep your time frame in mind to help your costume company direct you to the best options.

If your performance date isn’t that far away it might be best to stick with a pre-designed costume rather than creating a new design from scratch. Keep in mind completely custom designs will typically take 12-16 weeks, but pre-designed costumes might be as fast as 2-4 weeks.  It’s always best to plan ahead and allow yourself more time to accommodate any unforeseen challenges, or that special design!

“What if I don’t have my performance date?”

No worries – if you are flexible with your date, it could work to your advantage!  Another option if time is an issue – you could unveil that new costume a little later in the season at one of your bigger competitions, instead of that first performance date.

3. Number of Performers

Quantity of costumes plays a key role in not only the design of your costume but also the cost.
Some costume companies have price breaks for certain amounts of costumes: the more you order, the more you can save! There can also be restrictions to customization if your quantity is too small: a minimum number of costumes may be required for custom orders. It’s always good to ask your company upfront about these price breaks or restrictions.

“What if I don’t have my team finalized yet?”

That’s okay! If you can at least provide a range for your costume company to start with, it will help. You can base it off of last year’s numbers or how many members you ideally want on the team.

4. Theme or Performance Concept

A pre-selected theme or concept will give more focus to your costume design.

Artistic direction can be the most fun part of planning for your next costume! Though without some sort of creative vision it will be more of a challenge for your costume company to create a design.  A theme or concept will give your costume a clear focus, and every design decision can relate back to that vision. For example, when deciding on a neckline for a Victorian Gothic themed costume, you might choose a ruffled collar instead of an open sweetheart neckline because it fits with the theme.

Once you choose your music, gather your thoughts in a notebook or Pinterest board. Another great way to get your thoughts into writing is an inspiration kit similar to this one. Fill out questions and activities about each aspect of your performance to get a clearer picture of your vision!

If costume decisions are done by more than one person on your team, it’s good to collaborate before meeting with your costume company. Narrow down your ideas and hone in on the specifics to save everyone time! By the time you meet with your costume company you should be able to give them clear direction on the 1 to 2 designs you’d like to see mocked up. Remember, you can always make revisions later. If it’s too open ended they might come back with designs that aren’t what you had in mind.

“What if I don’t have a concept, I just need a new uniform?”

If there isn’t a theme, typical of many team warm-ups or game day uniforms, at least brainstorm some ideas about what styles you like, and what you are trying to achieve.  For example, if you want to represent your team and showcase your school’s logo, get the logo files together to send over to your costume company!

So there you have it, these four simple things are you need to get started with dance costume planning: budget, schedule, quantity, and theme. Odds are you already have been thinking about each, so you are further along than you might think!  For more tips on getting your best costume ever, check out this budget guide: http://info.thelineup.com/dance-costume-budget-tips!

The Line Up




While all ‘our’ Minnesota High School dance teams are deep into your winter competitive season, culminating in Sectionals and then the big MSHSL tournament at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, Satin Stitches continues to design and create unique team uniforms for other teams across the country. And we also continue to design new and exciting customizable Web Styles that can be purchased immediately by local or national teams.

At Satin Stitches, we thrive on the performance accomplishments of our clients. We hope to see all of your fabulous routines this season. We know that you keep improving your moves, in hopes of making the final cut in February. Sequins, rhinestones and lace are everywhere, along with uniquely themed costumes. Of course we have our favorites, but we still want to see every team’s routine, so please send us photos and links to videos!

As you strive for better and better performances, we know you have your eye towards your competitors and continue to take mental notes on what you like and what you don’t like, in order to incorporate new ideas into your themed costumes for NEXT season. In addition to keeping tabs on Minnesota state HS costumes, I personally travel around the country and meet with other High School teams to see what costume features are currently ‘in vogue’ in their location. Yes, every location has their ‘own’ style in choreography and in their costuming.

At Satin Stitches, we know that budgets are ALWAYS a huge consideration when designing and ordering new team costumes and uniforms. Many of you know that Satin Stitches offers the best pricing (biggest discounts) of our season when you are just ending your season.

We have offered our ‘Early Bird Discounts’ that start in February and continue until mid-May for many years. Hopefully you are planning to take advantage of these HUGE discounts that are always applied ON TOP OF our year-round Quantity and Prepayment Discounts. If you are hosting a successful invitational, you may have already earned the funds for your next year’s uniforms. Ordering NOW gets you so much more bang for your buck!

We offer our ‘Early Bird Discounts’ to promote costume ordering when you aren’t thinking about ordering, so that we can keep our talented sewing staff employed year round. What’s in it for you? You can get the jump on next year’s season, AND save lots of money on your uniforms!

Our Satin Stitches team, here in suburban Coon Rapids, includes myself (Deborah Nelson) and two additional professional costume/fashion designers who work directly with you to develop your perfect new look. We offer advice on what can work the best for your team, based on decades of custom dance team design experience. And based on what we are seeing this season. Besides the design, we feel that the fit and construction are very important to insure the best results for your team’s performance. Our tagline is ‘Designed for a Sensational Performance!’ and this is what we strive for.

With decades of experience with dance team costumes (we will be starting our 40th season this spring) we know nothing in the dance world is static. We continue to update our construction methods and modify our sizing for the best results for our dance teams. We challenge you to discover the ‘Satin Stitches difference’ in our design, fit and workmanship of our team uniforms and solo costumes.

We strive to fit all of our client’s needs, sizes and now especially your budgets with our pre-designed styles (which are all totally customizable) offered in our Web Store at http://shop.satinstitches.com. We continue to update these styles which can be ordered in virtually any fabric combination. And yes, they can be ordered in all of our sizes (available in Short, Medium and Long lengths), including child sizes and extended Plus sizes). A special Online option is that we offer sketches (where we can fill in the fabric color choices that you are thinking of, so you can ‘see’ your choices).

Enjoy the remainder of your 2016-2017 competitive season and strive to be your best!

Deborah Nelson
Satin Stitches Ltd.

Section Prep!


It’s almost here – SECTIONS! For most teams, it will be the end of the season and the last time they will all be together. For a few teams, the season will continue with the honor to compete at the State Tournament. There’s no way to know for certain which road your team is taking, but as the coach, there are some things you can do to make the most of your time together and give your dancers the BEST chance to be great competitors, while creating amazing memories for your team. Here are some suggestions for the next few weeks…

1. Keep It Real
Your team has spent the last 12-14 weeks together – dancing, competing and working hard. They know what’s been happening on the score sheets from week to week and they know how hard they have been working and what they are capable of. At this point, you are their biggest cheerleader, but you are also the voice of reason. If they haven’t placed well since Winter Break, there is always a chance, but keep the team’s expectations reasonable. Don’t build them up too much for something that may not happen. The best course of action is to prepare for all eventualities – prepare them to qualify and talk about staying home. Find a way to discuss and prepare for both options.

2. Taper and Focus
The last weeks are the time to taper back your practices. You should be doing more marking and mental preparation than you are doing “Full Outs.” Stop making changes. Let the choreography settle into their minds and spend more time on reviewing. Your athletes are at their season peak and resting their bodies and minds will produce a stronger result for Sections. Be certain dancers are hydrated and rested – remind them to eat properly – they cannot be at their best without good fuel for their bodies. Ask them for more sleep time, if possible! Focus their minds on being at their very best for Sections.

3. Make Good Memories
No matter the outcome, your team can have some great memories of these last few weeks. Practices can be intense and focused without being stressful. Take time to look back – show your first performance and marvel at how far they’ve come! Plan some practice time fun with dress up days (rainbow or crayon colors are popular, but you are only limited by imagination!) Treats and snacks are fun, especially if you don’t do those regularly. If you practice close to dinner time, ask your boosters if they want to prepare a potluck or pizza party as a surprise on evening. A yoga session once or twice during these last weeks can be fun and beneficial, too. Use these times to talk, connect and remember the good things that have happened. This is NOT the time for screaming, yelling or temper tantrums…

4. Be Prepared
This is your number one job as a coach – prepare your team for the task ahead. Talk about the last two weeks, Sections day, the evening after Sections and possible plans for post-season. If possible, prepare them for the school or gym they will be competing in. If you’re going to a new school for the first time, look on Youtube for dance, basketball or volleyball games held at that school. It will give you a look at their set up and what the floor markings look like so you can share information with your team. Give dancers a packing list for Sections & on the back side, put a timeline of the day. Go over your Section competitors and talk about your scores. Prepare them for best case and worst case. Talk about Section Awards. Ask your veterans to share their feelings on those moments. Provide your team with some direction on their behavior on the floor. I am a big believer in “no tears on the floor,” but it’s important to discuss celebration behavior, too. Dancer should be excited and proud, but everything should be done within reason. Finally, when you run a Full Out, talk to them about Sections just before you press play. Try to bring a small adrenaline rush to the surface so they can practice keeping a handle on that feeling. Speaking of feelings…

5. All the Feelings

Don’t be surprised to see some unusual behaviors crop up these last few weeks, especially from your upperclassmen. Seniors are coming to the end of their time on your team and juniors can be thinking about next season and captain elections without a thought to finishing this year first! Stress can change people’s behaviors – try to be the calm, strong influencer in their lives. You are the ROCK your team is built on. If you aren’t steady and strong for them, they cannot be their best. It’s normal to be anxious and nervous – let them know that their feelings are valid! But give them a pep talk and explain what to do with those feelings after they’ve been felt. A few tears and some deep breathing can clear their minds, help them re-focus and allow them be more ready for Sections. Remember to recognize the Seniors for all they’ve given to your team, especially if this may be your last week together! Let them know what they mean to you and how much everyone has put into this year. It’s ok to tell them you love them. ♥


Good luck to all coaches and teams!

Allison Bridges
MADT President
Former Coach

New Fundraising Opportunity – Specialty Coffee

Since its purchase in 2003, Jumpy Monkey® Coffee Roasting Company has become known as “coffee with a cause.” We pride ourselves on serving a group of people in great need: individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jumpy Monkey® does this by providing meaningful employment to this overlooked segment of the population. As a result, their lives are improved through employment of which they can be proud.

Jumpy Monkey® doesn’t just serve a great cause – we pride ourselves on providing high quality 100% Arabica coffee. When we buy our Arabica green beans, we use a trusted buyer who is proud to serve coffee farmers “by sourcing, developing, and innovating at origin, while empowering farmers with price, traceability, and long-term partnerships.” This ensures these farms can run efficiently and their employees are making a fair wage. This is critical to the ethics that drive Jumpy Monkey®. Not only does this ensure ethical payment of famers, but it also allows us to guarantee that we are getting very high quality beans.

Once our high-quality Arabica beans arrive at Jumpy Monkey®, they are stored properly in order to ensure they are kept fresh. Our new artisan roaster yields perfection to each batch of our unique roasts. The beans are roasted in small batches as they are needed, guaranteeing freshness in each bag of coffee. All of these factors contribute to Jumpy Monkey’s membership to the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Our coffee not only tastes good, but it has good roots.

Not only does Jumpy Monkey® serve a great cause and have high quality beans, but they also strive to help small organizations and groups raise money for their projects, trips, and activities through fundraising. Jumpy Monkey® makes the fundraising process as easy as possible. Each fundraiser gets to name a blend after themselves, and Jumpy Monkey® makes sure that each group has the tools to raise the funds they need. Many groups have created a following of friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who cannot wait for their annual opportunity to buy Jumpy Monkey® Coffee while supporting the individual in their life who is selling it. It makes people happy to buy something they can enjoy while supporting a cause near and dear to them.

Jumpy Monkey® Coffee has helped numerous bands, choirs, orchestras, dance teams, clubs, private schools, and other organizations raise money for various projects such as new uniforms, travel, after school activities, etc. Let Jumpy Monkey’s coffee with a cause go to work for your cause.

Contact Jumpy Monkey® Coffee Roasting Company by emailing info1@jumpymonkey.com or calling 712-943-3026. Visit our website, jumpymonkey.com to learn more about our mission and fundraising.


The Catholic Jamboree Was Much More Than Just A Competition

This season, the Totino-Grace E’gals Dance Team hosted the Catholic Jamboree. At this competition, the Catholic high schools come together to not only compete, but to raise money for a charity as well. There are still judges and scores except there is no award ceremony and 100% of the proceeds go to the charity. The host school selects a charity and the E’gals wanted to support the Ronald McDonald house. The focus of this event is for friendly competition and to raise money for a great cause.

The Catholic Jam was much more than just a competition for me. I thought about the little girls at the Ronald McDonald House who are unable to dance because of a medical condition. This motivated me to give everything I had while I was out on the dance floor and it made me push harder until the end. There are kids that are tired because they have to push just to live. If they can do that, then I can give my all in a two and a half minute dance.

That day, the Catholic teams raised over three thousand dollars at the Jam! A representative from the Ronald McDonald house spoke at the competition, along with an E’gal alumni who utilized the facility. After hearing them speak,our team decided we wanted to do more, so we went to the Ronald McDonald house later that week and helped some of the kids make their family members Christmas gifts. After the visit, all of us kept saying how cute all of the little kids were and how much we enjoyed our time at the Ronald McDonald house. It was such a fun experience and I hope I can go back to volunteer again sometime soon.


Grace Baker
Totino-Grace Senior Dancer

UMDT Performs Beautifully for Another National Championship


“In all my four years on this team, I have never felt so calm and confident heading into nationals. Our coaches have been beyond supportive… Our choreographers put both themselves and our team to the test giving us the most dynamic and difficult routines I have ever had throughout my course with this program. Needless to say, we are ready. This journey and our goals are so much bigger than just us, and I cannot wait to get out there and share the floor one last time with the most amazing and talented people I know.” Michaela Voss, University of Minnesota Dance Team co-captain

The University of Minnesota Dance Team earned their sweet 16th title of national champions in Division 1A within the last 13 years with their Pom routine- the only school to win the Pom category in their division since it was added in 2010- and took second place in their Jazz routine, wearing a costume sponsored by Rhinestones Unlimited, embellished with Swarovski® crystal adornments.

Following their fantastic performances, the team shares their thoughts on school spirit, Swarovski® crystal and stunning stage presence.

On the unique dynamic of spirit squads

 “The University of Minnesota has one of the largest spirit squads in the nation. At a university of over 50,000 students, it’s been a great opportunity to be a part of a group as large and as supportive as the spirit squad.”  Leah Kongsvik, University of Minnesota Dance Team co-captain

“You forget how many people make up our program because you are able to develop such close relationships with every member. Our spirit squad program consists of the dance team, a competitive co-ed cheer team, a small co-ed team, an all-girl cheer team, the hockey cheer team, and everyone’s favorite Goldy Gopher, our school mascot.”  Michaela Voss, University of Minnesota Dance Team co-captain

On costume confidence

“When you are performing, all you have to work with is yourself and the other dancers on your team.  There is no safety equipment …used to help you dance or make you any less vulnerable; just your mind, your heart, and your body. What a dancer is wearing and how they feel when they are wearing their costume creates the finished product and sets the tone of how confident they are going to be during their performance.” Michaela Voss, University of Minnesota Dance Team co-captain

On the U of M/Rhinestones Unlimited jazz costume

“Rhinestones Unlimited did a fantastic job with the embellishments of the University of Minnesota’s jazz costume! It fit my vision perfectly in that it was both stunning and elegant, without being overstated. I couldn’t have been more pleased!”  Karl Mundt, University of Minnesota Dance Team choreographer

 “My favorite part of this year’s jazz costume is…everything! They are to die for! It’s so different than anything I’ve ever seen yet so elegant and absolutely gorgeous. The use of the Crystal Rock and the design pattern in which it was laid is stunning and really compliments our figures. The …rhinestones placed on the skirt makes us shine from miles away.”  Michaela Voss, University of Minnesota Dance Team co-captain

“I was completely blown away. They are stunning. They complement the artistry of the movement and the song perfectly. I can’t wait to see what they look like under the lights of the competition floor.”  Leah Kongsvik, University of Minnesota Dance Team co-captain

The design was inspired in part by Jennifer Lopez’s sparkle-on-sheer theme at the 2015 American Music Awards.  A woman who knows how to own a stage, seven of the 10 looks she wore to host the event were skin-skimming swaths of gossamer fabrics which brought focus to the glittering crystal elements and the nuances of her body movements. The Minnesota team had already been thinking about a muted color theme of nude with shimmering white accents.  The song they perform to- “Glory,” by John Legend and Common- has depth, drama and softness; a song underscoring the stories of civil rights, subtlety was preferred to big-top bling.  All of these ideas were woven together, along with input from the seamstresses, who built a solid foundation underneath the aesthetics of the costume, to create the final look for the jazz routine.

Thanks to Swarovski® for always inspiring innovation through the creation of your beautiful crystal products!



The UMDT jazz costume used:

  • Swarovski® Crystal Rock Applique “Floral Motif” in Golden Shadow and Crystal AB
  • Swarovski® Crystal Fabric Applique “Floral Motif” in Golden Shadow and Crystal AB
  • Swarovski® Custom Hotfix Transfer incorporating the following hotfix stones in sizes 6ss-20ss:
    • Rose Gold
    • Vintage Rose
    • White Opal
    • Golden Shadow
    • Crystal
    • Crystal AB

All of these products can be ordered through Rhinestones Unlimited!

LEAD Student Convention


You’re on your high school dance team and you have never been to LEAD?! What are you waiting for?!?!  We have got the best line up we have ever had and I will personally guarantee your satisfaction if you participate!  There is no chance you will leave without a new found knowledge and tips to having a great 2016-2017 competitive season. 

News flash, LEAD is NOT just for upperclassmen, it is NOT just for captains! This convention is for EVERY dancer on your team.  We cater to dancers 7th through 12th grade and have lots of opportunity for all of you. Whether it is your first year on dance team and you don’t know the first thing about kick or if you are a 6 year veteran captain ready to lead your team to their first state appearance, we have plenty for everyone! We will even be teaching your coaches while you learn to LEAD!

St. Thomas National Champion Dance Team and Mankato National Champion Dance Team both will be at LEAD to amaze you with their talent and teach you the basics of dance team in the state of Minnesota.  They also will teach you a thing or two about what it is like to be on college dance team if you would like.

We have decade long experienced coaches teaching classes on everything from leadership, rules of dance team, how to communicate, best practices if you receive an injury during season and how to overcome obstacles and keep your team moving forward regardless of what the season throws at you.


Plus tons of incredible guest teachers who are at the TOP of their game in their own rights. Chef Marshall O’Brien has been a proponent of smart eating for his entire career. He and his team in the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group work with a broad spectrum of clients, reaching 200 school districts, 5,000 childcare providers, city agencies such as fire, police and public works, and numerous businesses and civic organizations, he also works with professional athletic teams teaching them the importance of the food they put into their bodies!  

And we can’t forget, Kat Perkins! Growing up the daughter of a music teacher, Kat Perkins has been singing, dancing, and performing for just about as long as she can remember, and when it comes to ‘DRIVE’ – she is an undisputed expert.  Maybe it’s because she grew up in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota – a town so small the population only recently went from “unincorporated” to 281. That meant a lot of things, including that the nearest rock show was always hundreds of miles away. 

You may have first seen her when she appeared on THE VOICE and went all the way to the TOP 5 where her coach, Adam Levine said what many had said for weeks: “Kat Perkins is hands down one of the best singers we’ve ever had on The Voice.”

Kat will be with us to teach us the importance of never giving up and exactly what drive means.  To move forward you must go fearlessly and Kat will be there to share her wisdom of getting out on stage and doing your best. 

You are sure to miss out if you do not attend LEAD this year. It is the best convention YET!  We also are offering scholarships for a few dancers who, due to financial difficulties, wouldn’t be able to attend LEAD.  Talk to your coach if you think you might qualify for one of our scholarship opportunities.  Here is the link so you can get right to it!!  Registration closes October 31st


Jennifer Blaido
MADT Student Convention Director
Former Coach

What is new at Satin Stitches this fall?

At Satin Stitches Ltd, where the largest share of our Fall custom designing and manufacturing business is for Minnesota High School dance team clients, as well as for other HS dance teams across the country, we are working on designing, cutting, sewing and embellishing all different types of performance costumes, from basics to the elaborate. From traditional Kick costumes to transforming and non-traditional lyrical Jazz costumes. From plain to deliciously embellished with lace, sequins and rhinestones.

Traditions in Minnesota ‘danceline’ costuming have changed over the decades and currently, most teams are wanting brand new costumes for the START of their competitive season. Now the biggest delivery month of our year is November. Back before the state tournament existed with sectionals qualifying teams, it used to be in February, in time for creating new costumes for the final performances of the season.

This new tradition for Minnesota teams really pushes most of our clients into ordering in late summer for mid-November delivery. But as you look towards the end of the 2016-17 season, Satin Stitches offers ‘Early Bird’ discounts for next season, as your season winds down.

Satin Stitches has been working with high school dance teams since the early 1980’s, and we have seen many changes in the dance team world. It has been a fun and interesting ride! Styles come and go, and then recycle back with a new ‘look’.

If you missed out on the timing for new costumes for mid-November, all is not lost! We have openings for new orders for delivery in late December and for January. So, if you find that your current costume doesn’t work for your team, start planning on something new and better! We can still delivery in December and January.

Our Satin Stitches team, here in suburban Coon Rapids, includes myself (Deborah Nelson) and two additional professional costume/fashion designers who work directly with you to develop your perfect new look. We offer advice on what can work the best for your team, based on decades of custom dance team design experience. Besides the design, we feel that the fit and construction are very important to insure the best results for your team’s performance. Our tagline is ‘Designed for a Sensational Performance!’ and this is what we strive for.

We continually update our construction methods and modify our sizing for the best results. With the continued popularity of unitards, we have just developed a method of sizing (with our generic sizing samples) to allow team members to order custom torso, sleeve AND leg lengths.

For years we have been utilizing our many sets of generic Sizing Samples, cut in various silhouettes, in our standard sizes of XS, S, M, ML, L, and XL – ALL with Short, Medium and Long lengths for a much better fit than the common ‘one length fits all’…as we all know  – it doesn’t!


Newly added this summer, are our Satin Stitches customizable web styles at http://shop.satinstitches.com/ These pre-designed styles can be ordered in virtually any fabric combination. And yes, in all of our sizes (besides our standard sizes as noted, we offer child sizes and extended Plus sizes). Online, we even offer sketches where we can fill in the fabric color choices that you are thinking of, so you can ‘see’ your choices.

And because these patterns are already created – delivery can be much quicker. Our High School dance team clients love our design, fit, construction and service. If your team hasn’t work with Satin Stitches in a few years, please check out our website and/or give us a call!

Deborah Nelson
Satin Stitches



All of the planning you’ve been doing in your head since February (let’s be honest, since December) is about to become real. Choreography is always an exciting start to the season, but it can also be the most trying two weeks of the year. Having new coaches, captains or choreographers in the mix can be wonderful or challenging. Did you schedule enough time to complete all of the routines you want to finish? Will everyone show up? What do you do when you hit that wall and nothing seems to work? Will everyone be able to work together? How can you make progress without hurting the feelings of the contributors in the room? Here are a few tips to help you through the next 14 days…

  1. Share the Plan

Be sure to have a plan for each day of choreography and share that plan with all of the people involved. Be sure to explain that choreography teams are SET and the number of participants cannot be altered. It’s important for everyone to show up and do their part. Everyone needs to know what the expectations are – for example, you have 4 sessions to make up the JV Kick dance and each session is 2 hours long and you’ll be meeting in Gym B. The JV Kick routine is 52 sets of music, so divided by 4 sessions is 13 sets per session. Each choreography group needs a coach, a way to play music, a music map and someone to take notes/video of the progress. If everyone knows what is expected of them, they have a better chance of meeting or exceeding the goals!

  1. I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sister!)

Don’t make anything too complicated. Tackle the big pieces first and then try to fill in the blanks. Have a music map ready for every routine. (See sample here.) For Kick, start with the height line first and then work through formations & transitions. Once you have those basics in place, go back through the dance and layer on footwork, arms, heads, etc. Jazz can start with the technical sections first, formations and then layers. Don’t try to paint the Mona Lisa in one day. Just get the basics done – you will go back and make changes throughout the week and throughout the season. Don’t make things too difficult at the start!

  1. Don’t get Stuck

There is nothing worse than choreography that doesn’t work out and getting stuck puts most people in a terrible mood. DON’T let that happen! Change the focus and take a break with an ice breaker, a game or a snack. When the team gets back to work, they should have some new momentum. Last resort? It’s ok to re-use your own team’s choreography from previous years – you can use something as a placeholder and continue to tweak and change it into something new as the season progresses. If all else fails, here’s some advice from former EP Pom Coach Anna Bachman-Itman. She said when you get stuck with choreography, start at the beginning of the day and turn each of your “daily routines” into a dance move. Example – getting out of bed, washing your face, brushing your teeth, opening the fridge, making coffee, etc. She walked through the ACTUAL motions and then morphed each movement into a dance move. This simple trick has worked for times I’ve been stuck. Thanks, Coach Anna! J

  1. Never let them see you Sweat

The coaching staff and choreographers will be looking to you for leadership during this time. It’s your time to shine! Don’t get frazzled, even if you are frustrated. Keep calm, keep strong and keep moving. This is not a time to break down, skip sessions or not be present when you are there. You want to stay on task, but you can still be successful if your dances aren’t finished for Day One. Keep the big picture in mind and don’t lose your focus – you’re the captain of the ship!

  1. All the Feelings…

Choreography can be mentally challenging! There’s a strong possibility of having personality clashes or hurt feelings, so head that off by discussing the GOAL and letting everyone know that reaching the goal is the team’s focus. Let people know that input is necessary, but not all ideas will be used. Unused ideas aren’t “bad” – they might not be right or fit into the overall picture. It’s also a good idea to remind everyone what your team’s process is for choreography and who has the final say. Don’t forget to ask the group to be open-minded and flexible when it comes to trying something new. And if you have someone who gets upset, deal with it quickly and privately so it doesn’t fester and become more than it is.

Good luck to all coaches and teams this week!

Allison Bridges
MADT Board of Directors


Preparing Your Team of Varying Age & Experience Levels for Your First Competition

Although fall season has just begun, many winter coaches have started planning for the upcoming competition season. As you prepare for another dance season, there are the basics that you traditionally prepare for, but one aspect to capture in your planning this season is how you can best prepare your team of varying age and experience levels for the first competition of the season. The first few weeks of competition season are hectic, stressful, and have full practice schedules. Therefore, if you can incorporate some of these tips into your preliminary practice schedule plans, you might be thanking yourself later during practice when you’ve allotted the necessary time and don’t have to rush through things, or worse, forget to do them all together! We’ve all been there before, oops! And then you tell yourself, we’ll squeeze that in tomorrow if there is time…..but really is there ever extra time? No, not really. So, it will only be to the betterment of yourself, your athletes, and overall team if you make the time right off the bat in your practice plan.


As we all know, each athlete is different in their preparation for a competition. But, you as the coach can help prepare all of your athletes with your team traditions, expectations, and order of events for a competition in advance. Here are just a few helpful ideas to incorporate into your schedules for preparing your athletes of all age/experience levels for competition day:

  • Give experienced dancers the opportunity to provide insight to the younger ones and share what helped them when they were first competing. It gives them a sense of leadership and an opportunity to share with their teammates (this could be done during a cool down stretch at the end of practice in order to utilize your practice time to the fullest).
  • Review and ensure everyone on the team knows what traditional preparatory processes, cheers, or traditions the team likes to do before competing. Giving your dancers a feel for what will occur before heading to the gym to compete will help to put them at ease as they will know what to expect and the order in which events will occur.
  • Review expectations for the awards ceremony, showing good sportsmanship, how you want your team to be viewed, etc.
  • Reach out to the competition site to gather an understanding of the gym and logistical layout to know what side of the gym you’ll be walking in from, exiting on, etc.
    • Practice walk on/off of gym floor during practice time
  • Do a practice run through of your dance in costume so that the first competition is not the first time dancers are performing in their costume. This allows you as the coach an opportunity to make any necessary changes, and dancers the comfort of feeling and knowing how they can move in their costume.
  • Pair up an experienced dancer with a new dancer, call it a “buddy system” or “dance duo,” etc… this pair can serve as a support system on the first competition day to watch out for each other, ask questions, and provide guidance as needed.
  • Teach and review team cheers at the start of the season leading up to competition day, so all dancers feel a part of the team when it comes time to execute! If the young ones feel like they know what’s going on, they will ultimately feel more a part of the team. After all, being a TEAM is what it’s all about!

You may already incorporate some or all of these suggestions, which is awesome! But, for those of you new to coaching, hopefully these suggestions have been helpful, or at a minimum, perhaps have inspired another new idea that you could try this upcoming season. Here’s wishing each of you GREAT success as you continue planning and head into the competition season ahead; it will be here before we know it! Best of Luck!!!

Melissa Hurkman
MADT Board of Directors
Former Coach



Fall Dance, Let’s Remember “Why”

Remember back in the day when we began our dance season in August?! Football games and fundraising folding into the competitive season. Do you remember why fall season went away? I do, I remember it like it was yesterday…well, OK, maybe I don’t remember the “why” so clearly but I do remember every coach I knew talking about it and everyone of them had a VERY strong opinion on it. I think it all started because some teams couldn’t have a fall season, you know, school budgets or limited number of student participants. All for good reasons, we wanted to level the playing field. We wanted to make dance team fair.

Back then many coaches were, dare I say, well, they were upset at this idea of the fall season being gone. It was all that was talked about and here we are, some odd number of years later and we have not only lost our fall season, but we have also flourished!  Dance team talent has increased at breakneck speeds and teams are better funded now than they have ever been. It is a rare day you see a team compete in the same costume 2 years in a row and the sheer number of turns one dancer can do consecutively on the state floor is absolutely amazing.  Hate to say it, but what exactly were we so worried about?! Ok, now I can hear it, you are reading this saying, “Yeah, but tons of schools still have a “fall” program at their school, students are still training and dancing in August”!


Yeah, I know that…still, it is not the same.  Dancers are not just allowed to do something else in the fall, perhaps they are even encouraged. They can honestly do fall dance season “for fun”.  How amazing! New students who have never danced in their life get this opportunity! We likely have increased the number of dancers in our sport overall.

And just think of all we KNOW now.  We know over training is a serious problem in teenage athletes today.  In every sport, not just dance.  Research has been done showing the dangers of young athletes becoming “single sport athletes” at too young an age.  For years we have been working on being looked at as a sport, having 2 seasons certainly wouldn’t help us in that fight…let’s face it, not sure what will help us in that fight, but anyways, that topic needs another day.

For those that lived through it, we are stronger now and better!  For those that don’t remember it, we hope you are around for the next big change, whatever it may be. Coaches, let’s allow our dancers to learn from someone else for a while and take time off for YOU! You can’t be your best coaching self without some time off to gain a little perspective.  So in the words of a very wise coach,

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – Coach John Wooden

Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it, challenge yourself to welcome it with open arms and in the process, learn to do things differently.  It is good for us (coaches) and it is certainly good for our dancers.

Jennifer Blaido
MADT Student Convention Director
Former Coach



Back In The Day

Well, as most of you know, I have been involved with Minnesota High School Dance Team for a long time.  I first started coaching in the fall of 1975, before most of you were even born. This year I begin my 42nd season coaching.

What a ride it has been and wow have there been changes!!  One of the biggest changes has been how we play our music and how we cut the music.  Back when I started coaching, our music was played on a reel to reel tape recorder.  It was a large green machine that had two big reels on the top of it.    It looked much like the one in the picture. (I still have a couple of these old tapes. I might just bring one to our next MADT Membership meeting!)

Then when we wanted to cut music, we literally cut the tape at hopefully the right location and used scotch tape to tape the ends together.  Not perfect, but it did work.   I remember at times using a vinyl record to practice with and also used a record player at basketball games when we performed. I had the record player on the floor at the side of the gym and held a microphone up to it.  I hoped that no one would walk firmly by the record player and cause the record to skip while the girls were dancing.  That did happen several times. I am sure I gave some interesting looks to people walking by if they were walking too firmly on the gym floor.  The girls got pretty good at responding to the skips in the music!


Then the new big invention happened – the cassette tape!  This was much easier to work with, but we still but music in the same way, by cutting the tape and taping the ends together.  Again, not flawless, but it worked.  Since then, the evolution is one that you all know. Next moving to CD’s and now our music played on computers, iPads, iPods and MP3 players.  Changing speed and adjusting music to customize it is so easy these days.

Life is so much easier in the dance team world with the electronic advancements we have today.  Yeah for the evolution of how to deliver music!!

Leslie Swiggum
Wayzata Dance Team Co-Head Coach
MADT Board of Directors