How to Conquer a UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Show
September 29, 2016

How to Conquer a UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Show

Come every autumn, the organization United Dance Merchants of America (UDMA) produces a series of Dance Resource and Costume Shows for dance teachers and studio owners. The 2016 UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Shows will take place in towns near Boston, Atlanta, New York City and Chicago in October.

For new attendees, these events might seem a little overwhelming, as there is so much to see and take in! They’ll have the opportunity to inspect more than 10,000 stunning costumes, shop countless brilliant accessories, discover advanced teaching tools that can energize their business, learn about various resources and services, and sign up for great publications, like Dance Informa Digital Dance Magazine. Not to mention, inspiring classes are offered to dance instructors by master teachers and each UDMA show features a contest to win $500 in UDMA Gift Bucks.

So, how does one succeed in taking everything in that these UDMA shows have to offer and not get overwhelmed? How can one conquer this massive event? Here are some tips on how to make the most of each UDMA tradeshow.

#1. Do your homework. This is crucial! Prior to anything else, you should make yourself at least relatively familiar with everything UDMA has to offer. Find out exactly what vendors will be present in the Exhibit Hall. Look into what workshops will be offered and when. Then specify who’s teaching these. Ask if there are discounts available if you need to reserve a hotel room near by. These logistics are the first step.

Excitingly, UDMA has announced a new seminar being offered at each location this year – “Teaching Dance for Students with Disabilities: Strategies for Success.” This seminar will either be led by Theresa Purcell Cone or Merry Lynn Morris. If this is something that interests you, you’ll obviously want to register, make plans to attend and bring materials to take notes.

In general, you will want to learn the exact UDMA show hours and plan (as well as you can) when you’ll start and finish touring the booths. One of the biggest mistakes UDMA newbies can make is to come without knowing what’s being offered.

#2. Set your personal goals. Before you ever step foot into the convention center for the event, decide what is most important to you. This is just as imperative as #1 and is the natural next step for success.

Are you a dance teacher looking for spring recital costumes? Are you a studio owner hoping to find new dance studio management software? Are you a dancer or teaching assistant tagging along that needs new dancewear? Perhaps you hope to discover new dance competitions and conventions that are being offered in your area or other performance and educational opportunities for your studio. Maybe it’s vital that you buy new dance class music or purchase new stage backdrops and studio equipment and flooring. Whatever it is, you need to make a plan of attack!

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect dance costume to match your new jazz routine, grab the UDMA floorshow map and circle all the booths you want to visit before ever coming in, prioritizing the costume companies you’re most interested in. (If this is you and you’re really on top of it, you will have already scoured the costume companies’ websites and gotten ideas of what pieces you’re most interested in! This is what the pros do!)

#3. The first day of the UDMA show, come well rested, fueled up and with a rolling shopping tote, suitcase or backpack.

A few things are guaranteed to happen at every UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Show. First, you’re going to be on your feet standing or walking around for hours. Second, you’re going to get a lot of brochures, catalogs, leaflets and various other items handed to you. Because of this, you want to wear comfortable shoes, carry drinking water and bring a rolling bag of some type. (I’d also add – make sure to get your caffeine fix early on!)

One of the top ways to tell a UDMA newbie from a veteran is if they’re strolling the booths without a rolling bag. Since there are oodles of vendors at each event, attendees can expect lots of fliers, promotional materials and catalogs. After a while, your arms are overflowing and there’s no room in your purse/tote to carry one more thing – plus your bag weighs a thousand pounds and your shoulder’s begging you to stop! This makes the experience miserable and you find yourself wishing you had thought to bring a rolling suitcase/shopping bag to easily tuck all the materials into.

One extra tip: some companies have USBs available (including Costume Gallery!) so if you don’t want to lug huge costume catalogs home, ask for a USB instead. (This can be a lifesaver!)

#4. If you’re attending the second day, use the night in between to hone in. Reflect on what you learned the first day, what you want clarified in the second, what booths you still need to visit, and perhaps what costumes you want to re-visit or have modeled. Sure you can do this at lunch the first day, but at night you have even more time to focus!

Personally, I think one of the strengths of UDMA is that many of its costume vendors have live models available to try on pieces in-person. This allows you to truly get a feel for what the costume design does for a dancer’s body. How neat! These demonstrations can be incredibly helpful, and Costume Gallery always has numerous models of different ages and sizes available. So if you fall in love with a costume that night when flipping through catalogs, be sure to visit that booth the second day to have a model try it on for you.

Don’t miss the opportunity to familiarize yourself with all the materials you received that first day so that if you have any specific questions, you can have them answered before the event concludes!

#5. Finally, decide if you’re going to compete in the contest and if so, commit! Each UDMA show gives attendees the opportunity to win $500 in UDMA Gift Bucks if they visit all the booths on the show floor, have them sign their floor map and then turn their sheet in. The grand prizewinner will be drawn at the event’s conclusion. If you have a team of comrades with you, this is a much easier task, as you could each commit to a certain row of booths and then get all signed off on one sheet before the end of the second day. However, if you plan on coming to the event just for a few hours by yourself, this might not be worth it to you. You might just stress yourself out unnecessarily. Decide ahead of time and commit to your choice!

A few additional tips, courtesy of UDMA, include:

- Bring cash for meals, snacks and coffee being sold at the venue. Lunches usually include basic sandwich and salad options.

- Attendees might want to start at the back of the Exhibit Hall and work their way forward to avoid crowds.

- Don’t plan on using your camera to take photos of models in costumes since there is a “strict ‘no photos’ policy to protect the models and the designs.”

- Get a babysitter for children and leave them at home. Children under 16 (including infants) aren’t permitted.

- Lastly, follow UDMA on Facebook and Twitter for weekly opportunities to win a free pass to one of its workshops.

Visit for more information. Note that all UDMA tradeshows are 100% free for attendees!

Guest Contributor: Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.