National Dance Coaches Association

April Newsletter

Inside This Issue:

  • CHEER.FM Podcast: 2018 NDCA Inaugural Conference
  • End of the Year Banquet Ideas
  • Auditions ... Judges or No Judges? - That Is the Question
  • Forming a Team Budget
  • HOW TO: Valdez (Monkey Flip)
  • Featured Member of the Month: Jenny Eustice - Evaluating Your Program
  • NDCA Vendors/Partners at the 2018 Inaugural Conference!

CHEER.FM Podcast: 2018 NDCA Inaugural Conference

Still Wondering Why You Need to Register for the 2018 Conference?

Check out part 1 of's interview with Executive Board Director, Teri Rowe. In this episode Teri gives detailed information about the NDCA and upcoming conference, and even spills a secret about one of the special guests attending! We talk about staying fresh with choreography, ideas for recruiting and holding a super successful tryout, and more!

This interview gives great insight to what the NDCA is about and why YOU will benefit from coming to this year's conference. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW!!!

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Thursday, May 17th 2018 at 5pm to Saturday, May 19th 2018 at 10pm

1610 Lake Las Vegas Parkway

Henderson, NV



Add A Personal Touch

A quick trip through Pinterest yielded these ideas for banquet honors and gift giving.

Senior Gifts

Personalized jewelry for each member of the team is always a great way to make your dancers feel special!

Here are a few gifts that are a little more outside of the box, but still personal!

Team Awards

Tired of giving out trophies and plaques? Try this!

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NO MONEY??? Try these! After all, it's not always about what you get but what you've learned!

AUDITIONS ... Judges OR No Judges? - That Is the Question

Perspective #1

I Pick My Own Team – Megan Mehl, Head Pom Coach at Grandview HS in Colorado

As coaches, we spend countless hours with our team throughout the season. We learn to adapt to our team’s needs, determine what motivates them, what challenges them and most of all, we are the ones that make decisions for them. Being the decision maker drives our program at Grandview High School to not use score sheets or out-of-program judges for our tryouts. We changed our process because we are the ones that ultimately know our program the best and are the ones working with our student-athletes day in and day out.

How It Works

We have a week-long tryout where our athletes learn a combo for JV, Varsity and Jazz, as well as our fight song. Candidates are also required to demonstrate progressive technical skills throughout the tryout.

We only have current coaches, former coaches, and choreographers at our tryouts which totals 10-12 people. To choose the team, we all take notes and check off skills at the different required levels throughout the week. Our goal is to find two teams (JV and V) that blend together the best. However, with this system, it is not as easy as checking off skills, assigning and adding scores, and finding a natural break in scores to put the teams together. As a coach, I want to see my future team dancing together before any final placement decisions are made. We select multiple variations of groups of athletes to dance together – eventually we have that “Ah-hah” moment when you know you’re looking at the right group. You can see and feel them begin to form a foundation despite their nerves – a truly rewarding moment for coaches.

Results – At the end of the tryout, we sit down with each of the candidates one-on-one and give them feedback and the results. This format helps alleviate most questions that dancers have. In my experience, issues with parents are mostly about placement (i.e. JV or Varsity) and not the process.

Administration – Fortunately, one of our administrators is a former coach, so she is involved in the tryout process. The remainder of the school administration supports our process mainly due to the one-on-one meetings at the end.

Why It Works

Our coaches truly value each other’s opinions and trust each other’s input, knowing that we all are working toward the same vision and common goals for our program. It is never an easy process, but year after year when we reflect on our season, we seem to make the right decision, and I have ultimate faith in our tryout process.

Perspective #2

We Bring in a Panel of Outside Judges – Adonia Adams, Head Coach, Farragut High School Dance Team in Tennessee

We Define Our Focus and End Goal

  • Tryouts are centered around the competition aspect of our team. We strive to be a “total package” team and therefore look for total package dancers. Our three absolute “must have” areas are technique, execution of skill, and quality of movement/musicality.
  • The goal is to choose dancers that are “competition ready.” In a nutshell, choosing dancers that make you say “that dancer can pull off the overall difficulty level of what we’re planning for our routine this year” and not choosing dancers that make you say “if we pick that dancer we’d probably have to reduce the overall difficulty level of what we’re planning for our routine this year.”

Why We Use Judges

  • Our school district requires us to use a panel of impartial judges.
  • Since it is required, it is very important to me to get judges who are qualified in our areas of focus to ensure that team selection matches our team expectation. I need judges who have knowledge in Jazz and Pom, and preferably someone with multiple years of Ballet training. Our judges typically consist of former/current college Dance team members, or someone who formerly/currently coaches a competitive dance team.
  • Judges are great for those “gray area” dancers (for example, when you look at the scores and you say “Do we take the next dancer or do we cut it off here”). The judges can use the improv section and do callbacks for the routines to confirm whether or not those gray area dancers should be selected.
  • Impartial judges have no emotional attachments. Their one and only job is to score dancers in accordance with our team focus.

How It Works

Tryouts take place over three days (two days of clinics and the final tryout day). On the final day of tryouts, we use judges to select the team. Our tryouts consist of four portions (base level skills, Pom competition-based routine, Jazz competition-based routine, and improv).

Coach’s Role:

  • Make sure the tryout routines mimic our style of routines that we will be competing.
  • Ensure the routines have a good balance of skills, transitions, and motions/movements.
  • Before tryouts begin, communicate to the judges our team focus and end goal.

Results - After the audition, all candidates leave campus and results are posted on the team’s website about 30 minutes after the conclusion. New team members come back to the school that same evening for a team meeting.

Parents/Administration – Even with bringing in judges, we still have had to deal with parent complaints over the years. Fortunately, our administration shows solid support for our tryout process and program as a whole.


Where to Begin?


Next to parents, money is often a big cause of stress for dance coaches. The easiest way to avoid that is by setting a realistic budget for your team/program, and to do that you have to know what your goals and expectations are for the upcoming season. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How many dancers do I expect to have?
  • Can I charge parents/dancers or do we have to fundraise for everything? (school teams)
  • What is a realistic amount for parents to pay?
  • What overhead/facility costs do I have? (studio teams)
  • Are we attending a summer camp or intensive?
  • Are we competing locally? Regionally? Nationally? If so, with which circuit(s) and how many competitive routines are we going to do?
  • Are we hiring out choreography or doing our own? If hiring out, are we paying for travel expenses?
  • Are we okay with a stock costume or do we want custom?

These key questions will help determine the amount of money you need and how vital fundraisers will be for your team/program. Dance team is typically expensive, especially if you compete nationally, but you CAN do it all and not have outrageous fees for your dancers or unattainable fundraising goals.

Check out the sample budget below this article to get an idea of how to set it up.

Money Saving Tips

You must do your research, and when in doubt, always budget on the high end. Once you have established an initial budget, you will tweak it each additional year. Here are some tips to help save money:

  • Research multiple warm up, pom, shoe, costume suppliers to see what products they offer and at what price. Do they give bulk order/early bird discounts? Will they send you a sample of custom items so you don’t spend $1,000 on a set of specialty poms only to have them come in and not be exactly what you want? This applies to everything - know exactly what to expect of your big purchases and your anticipated vendors. Build in a TBD fund to cover unexpected price increases.

  • Order in bulk. In our program, we order just about everything for our dancers because we can get it cheaper in bulk than they can themselves. More work for us, but why send them all out to scour the local drugstores for eyelashes that will cost $5 a pair when we can get them for $2.50 and have them shipped directly to us? Sell them to the dancers for $3 and you make a little profit along the way to help boost that TBD fund discussed above. Over the course of a 10-month season, those little savings/profits really add up.

  • Join rewards programs such as Ulta for all your makeup & hair supply purchases, Expedia for your travel purchases and Ebates (double dipping on Expedia and Ebates at the same time). Great deals can be found on Amazon, and with Amazon Prime, most shipping is free. Dance supply websites often give discounts to schools/studios, so don’t purchase from their site as a “guest”. Take the time to set up an account to get the best pricing available. Use the money you save to buy the extra rhinestones or give your dancers a little gift before a big competition. Their smiles will make the extra work on your end worth it!

  • Get a credit card for your booster club that offers miles, points, or cash back rewards. Use these rewards to fly in a choreographer or purchase something the team needs. Be sure to pay off the balance in full every month, and that your school/organization allows cards to be used.

Meeting Your Budgeting Needs - Fundraising

  • Planning out your fundraisers is your next big undertaking, and I would suggest having a Fundraising Chairperson for your program. You already have enough to do just coaching the team! You should be involved, but let a trustworthy parent facilitate your fundraising program.

  • Create a list of fundraisers with their anticipated profit. Be sure that your total profit from all fundraisers equals the total amount you will spend. Consider the timing of the fundraisers – when do you need the money to spend on budgeting items?

  • When choosing fundraisers, analyze the profit margin. Fundraising takes time, and if you are only going to get 5%-10% of sales, then it may not be worth the effort. If you are going to “sell,” find opportunities that offer you larger profits like Century Resources ( or Yankee Candle (

  • Host a clinic or dance showcase at your school (harder for studios who don’t easily have access to a gym, stage, etc.) where you essentially have little to zero overhead costs. If you sell 300 tickets to a showcase at $5/each, that’s $1,500! If you are like my program and can sell out a 750-seat gym for 2 shows on one day, you made a quick $7,500. Invite other teams or studios to perform in order to increase your audience numbers.

  • If you are really ambitious (and have the facilities) consider hosting a competition. If done right you can make a lot of money on just that one day, but the event requires early planning and all hands on deck.

  • Be sure to decide ahead of time what fundraisers require mandatory participation and how you are going to handle the profit distribution. Do only the kids/parents that participate get the profits to reduce their out-of-pocket expense? Do the funds go into a “team account” to be used on all dancers? A little of both? Whatever you decide, communicate the decision to the dancers and parents well in advance.

It is imperative to share your final budget with parents and school administrators so they know what is anticipated and everyone is on the same page for both fees and fundraising expectations. You never want anyone asking “Where is the money going?” However, don’t feel like you need to run every purchase by your team parents. Once the budget is established and they are advised of team fees, the only person you answer to is your administration or studio owner.

Bio: Jill is currently starting her 21st year coaching at Seton High School in Cincinnati, OH and her 16th with their Varsity Dance Team. She does all the bookkeeping for their program which ranges from 1st-3rd grade recreational teams to their nationally competitive Varsity Team. If you have a specific question about anything in this article or dance budgeting in general, feel free to reach out to her

HOW TO: Valdez (Monkey Flip)

Learn how to do Valdez/Monkey Flip from The Breakdance Academy! Make sure to post a video to our Facebook page so we can see your team master this skill!


Jenny Eustice - Evaluating Your Program

Jenny Eustice is seasoned coach with a wealth of experience to share. We asked Jenny about the process of end-of-the-year evaluations and why they are so important.

Why should dance team coaches do an end-of-the-season evaluation?

I think it is very easy to get tied to your personal emotions regarding a season. For you as a coach, it may have felt like the best season EVER, but when you factor in 15-20 dancers, chances are they do not all share your perspective. When you look even broader to your spirit program, administration, parents, etc., you can imagine the variety of opinions you may get.

End-of-season evaluations give you data for decision making. They allow you to look as objectively as possible at the year to move forward. I believe that this is an essential piece of changing and growing your program in the direction you want it to go. I think it is also invaluable to show the dancers and stakeholders in your program that you value their opinions. By making positive changes based on your end-of-season evaluations, you increase buy-in to your program, as it shows that you take your job seriously!

How do you do your evaluation?

At the end of each season, I give each dancer on my team a survey. It includes questions like:

  • What did you like most about this past season?
  • What did you like least?
  • How did you feel about our preparation for games/nationals?
  • How would you evaluate the senior leadership on this team?
  • If you could change one thing about your dance team experience this year, what would it be and why?
  • If I were the Head Coach, I would…

I think it is important to make time and sit down with each dancer and allow them to talk through anything they wrote on their survey. Sometimes it is easier to understand their perspective when they can elaborate in words rather than writing.

I also have a wrap up meeting with my sport administrator and our Spirit Squad Coordinator, where we identify areas we would like to improve upon next season.

For the first time this year, I also sat down with our marketing department, as many of our marketing directors are new. This was invaluable, as I could share the dance team’s perspective of fan/game experience, and they could share the athletic department and fans’ perspectives. By putting our heads together, we came up with some great ideas to implement next season! Making time for these meetings is essential in maintaining and growing the support of our program.

As college coaches, we do not work much with parents. At other levels, parents are an important part of the puzzle, and their cooperation is needed for costumes, fundraising, transporting dancers, etc.

Sending a short survey via Survey Monkey or a similar platform might work best for assessing their experience. Keep it short and only ask questions to which you really want to know the answers.

What do you do with the information you collect?

  • MARINATE - Once I have met with each dancer, I identify common themes that came out of the surveys. Then, I marinate! The first time you hear something that may feel negative, we tend to have defensive reactions. If you walk away from this information for a week or two and then come back, it is easier to realize that your dancers are not personally attacking you, they just really want to have the best possible experience. Once you get away from the personal feelings, you can take steps to make positive changes.
  • FORMULATE A PLAN AND IMPLEMENT CHANGES - Finally, make sure you actually do something with the information that you gathered. It is one thing to hear people, and another to SHOW them that you hear them! Explain WHY you are making changes to the team members that are continuing through your program. Reference their exit surveys. I was only on 2 dance teams, high school and college, and I only had 2 coaches. I need to remember that my perspective on how things are done is very limited. By listening to my team members, and implementing their suggestions, my program has grown and evolved into something of which I am very proud!

Bio: Jenny Eustice is wrapping up her 9th season as the Dance Team Coach for the University of Iowa. In 2017, the Iowa Dance Team placed 3rd at UDA Nationals in the Pom category, tying their highest ever placement at the National Championship. Eustice is a former Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader and a Minnesota Swarm Performance Team member. She is a former dancer, Captain, and Assistant Coach of the University of Minnesota Dance Team that won 4 UDA National Championships during her tenure. Eustice was the UDA ESPN Dance Analyst for the National High School Dance Team Championship for 9 years. She is a former head instructor/choreographer for UDA summer camps and is currently a mentor for the Dance Coach Academy. Jenny also teaches high school biology in Iowa.

Featured Vendors for the 2018 NDCA Inaugural Conference

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Do you remember the first time you stepped on stage, that very first dance costume you wore, all glitter and tulle, shining in the lights? How you felt amazing, like the light itself was coming from you—and you could have just danced forever.

That feeling, that moment, is exactly why we do what we do. We’re a company that truly believes your performance is our passion. In fact, your performance inspires us just as much as you’re inspired by our costumes. From our base in York, Pennsylvania, our team stitches a lot of pride into each and every Curtain Call® costume, handcrafting every design, ruffle and detail so that you and your dancers dazzle on stage.

Our passion goes beyond each costume we create; service and customer satisfaction is something we take very seriously at Curtain Call. We’ve expanded our Relationship Manager team to reach new areas in the country. All former dancers themselves, they work closely with you at your studio to find out what you need and support your vision. If there isn’t a relationship manager in your area, don’t worry! Our amazing customer service team is just a phone call away.

We are committed to delivering innovation, excellence and integrity to you, in all that we do. Our craftsmanship is all about supporting the art of dance, to help dancers showcase their hard work and to make sure they feel confident, strong and beautiful. We love being a part of your performance, and as the audience applauds, in a way, we’re there too, cheering you on.

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Here are the Competitions/Brands through Varsity that will be Represented at this Year's Conference ...