What to eat on show day?

The Lewis Foundation of Classical BalletBallet, children, dancers, danceshows, experience, insights 1 Comment

Some of the biggest questions about performance day are “What foods should I pack for my dancer?” and “How can I keep them energised and full?” Proper nutrition is one of the most important factors that influence dancers’ health and success; unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked and ignored. This blog will summarise some key foods to include and avoid on performance days, and hopefully, help you plan healthy meals around rehearsals and show-time. Please remember that every body is different, and, when it comes to nutrition, one size does not fit all. This article is not aimed to suggest lifestyle changes, but to provide a guideline to help avoid pitfalls, so your child stays focused and energised throughout the day.

The foods our dancers eat for breakfast determine the amount of energy they will have for the rest of the day. The proper foods will help them stay alert, focused, and energized. Meanwhile, the improper foods will often lead to impaired focus, fatigue, lethargy, and bloating. Two of the most important things you should think about on show-day morning are what your dancer will eat and drink.

Foods like these enhance focus, mental stability, and help regulate hunger throughout the day. Heavy, fried, oily, and sugary foods like these usually lead to fatigue, lethargy, and impaired focus.
  • Idly/Rava idly
  • Oatmeal or porridge topped with fruit, coconut,and honey.
  • Egg and vegetable sandwich
  • 1-2 Boiled eggs
  • Low sugar granola or muesli with reduced or no sugar milk beverage (dairy, almond, soy, etc.)
  • (If you’re in a rush, a Yogabar Breakfast Protein Bar and a banana are always a great grab-and-go option)
  • Vada
  • Ghee Pongal
  • Cakes and pastries
  • Sugary cereals like Choco-fills, Cheerios, Froot Loops, Weetabix, Ragi Bites, and most granolas.


Hydrating in the morning keeps your dancer from being so thirsty later in the day. The thirstier the dancer feels, the more likely he/she is to chug water, and the more bathroom breaks he/she will have to take in costume.

NOTE: TLFCB provides water on the performance day! The best advice to give your dancer to avoid frequent restroom breaks is to make sure he or she doesn’t overdrink.

Morning drinks like these keep your dancer hydrated and reduce their need to use the bathroom in their costume and tights. Sugary drinks like these will dehydrate your dancer and cause fatigue.
  • Water
  • No sugar added fruit juices
  • Almond or soy milk
  • Low, or no, sugared tea
  • Tea with sugar
  • Sugar-added fruit juices
  • Sodas

Show day lunchtime is similar to breakfast: you want healthy, filling, and energizing foods.

These lunch foods are ideal for giving your dancer energy and keeping them full. These lunchtime foods are NOT suitable for performance day.
Veg (consume with little rice):

  • Veg. kurma (preferably with coconut rather than yogurt/curd)
  • Aloo gobi
  • Aloo matar
  • Chana masala
  • Chapati
  • Dosa

Non-veg (consume with little rice):

  • Kababs
  • Shawarma
  • Chapati & Egg Omelette
  • Vegetable and egg sandwiches
  • Butter Chicken/Paneer
  • Biryani
  • Sambar rice
  • Curd rice
  • Cheesy foods
  • Naan/Roti/Kulcha
  • Burgers
  • Pizzas
  • Pastas

(Please note: curd rice and cheesy foods contain a vitamin known for promoting sleepiness)

Pre-performance meals are best fed ~2 hours before stage time. This means that breakfast should be served 2 hours before your dancer’s morning rehearsal call-time and lunch should be 2 hours before the evening show-time. Planning meals like this may feel intimidating since the evening call-time is 3pm for the 5:30 pm show, but, if the dancers eat lunch around 2pm and have two snacks during the show, they will stay full and have plenty of energy.

Snacks like these will keep your dancer energized and full regardless of their food preferences. Snacks like these are often full of unhealthy sugars, oils, and flours that can induce bloating and lethargy, or are messy and will stain dance costumes.
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Chapati & Egg Omelette
  • Yogabar Protein bar
  • Yogabar Energy bar
  • Fresh fruit pieces (bananas, muskmelon, chikku, watermelon, apples, etc.)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches (with banana or “no sugar added” jam)
  • Butter and jam sandwiches (jam should be “no sugar added”)
  • Cucumber and Capsicum with hummus
  • Popcorn
  • Boiled eggs
  • Hara bhara kababs
  • Chips
  • Muffins
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Chocolates
  • Samosas
  • Pakota
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Cheese and chutney sandwiches

If your dancer is prone to snacking, pack more snacks like those mentioned above in the left column.

The main purposes of proper nutrition on performance days are to help maintain healthy sugar levels and keep our dancers full and hydrated. The food suggestions above are just a snip of the many healthy foods available and are a guideline to help make your day easier and your dancer’s day more enjoyable. The three main points to remember for show day are

1) Jumpstart the day with hydration and sustainable foods

2) Eat ~2 hours before stage time and

3) Pack healthy snacks to keep your dancer happy and focused.

Remember, every class has adult volunteers to take care of your children, so, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the show 🙂

Incase of any doubts or queries, you can write them below in the comment section. We’ll get back to you right away.


Lily Chong, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist

B.S. Kinesiology & Nutrition

One response to “What to eat on show day?”

  1. Penny Chong says:

    What a great summary of food ideas. You have clearly researched the local foods and made some excellent recommendations. Thank you!

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