We are quickly approaching the finish line with preparation to attend the Heart of America competition in August. I can tell you that we are all very proud of all the work the participating students have put towards getting ready. We also appreciate the students placing their trust in us to guide them through their first competition experience. Through out my years of teaching I have had many students who have attended at least one competition, and there are many reasons why it’s a valuable experience. The following article expresses many of my thoughts about what a student can gain from participating in competitions. I hope you find the article insightful.
by John DePalma
Anyone who has ever walked into a dance studio and peeked into the ballroom can immediately tell you the dual feeling of excitement and intimidation upon seeing a pro/am or professional couple practicing in the ballroom. New students will immediately tell you that is not what they are looking for, or they may say that is exactly what they want, thinking the task can be easily accomplished in a few private lessons. Once your instructor has had the opportunity to teach you the fundamentals of ballroom dancing and all the patterns and partnership techniques become more familiar, the inevitable question about participating in a dance competition will come up. In most cases, you may have never expressed an interest or a desire to dance competitively, and will say to your teacher, I’m interested in social dancing, why should I compete?
There are many benefits of participating in a dance competition regardless of the skill level of a student.
The opportunity to prepare with a professional for an upcoming event, whether it is for closed syllabus material, open choreography in Bronze , Silver or Gold, or a solo exhibition gives you a concentrated and focused goal. That short term goal immediately brings you to a more advanced skill level at a quicker pace, which makes you a better dancer faster.
Regardless of the normal butterflies, participating in a dance competition will build your confidence as well as your dance skill. You will work through your nerves in your first few dances, and then wish you had done more entries once the realization of how much you have accomplished sets in. Before you know it, you become more aware of the other dancers you are competing with and new acquaintances become quickly forged in the “On Deck” area. You will have the opportunity to dance with your peers and the chance to see the advanced pro/am levels you will aspire to. Not to mention fantastic professional dance events and wonderful special performances that easily rival a Broadway or Vegas production!
Competing allows you to get in touch with your creative self and in some cases discover a creative part of you that you never thought existed. Students prone to shyness discover a more outgoing side to themselves as that feeling of accomplishment starts to come through, and before you know it you will welcome the challenge of preparing for your next event at a higher level.
The locations for dance competitions range from local to exotic, and some students love to compete so they can visit places they have always wanted to go to, or combine a dance event with a visit with family or friends and the opportunity to display their new found skills.
Whatever the individual reason, the student who chooses to enhance their lessons with competition comes away a better dancer with more poise, more confidence, a better awareness of how their body moves, a few new friends made and an overall wonderful experience. The level of success at any competition should never be measured by receiving a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. That is just an added bonus. The real prize is coming back from a competition feeling the personal accomplishments of a job well done!
See you on the dance floor!