How To Make Competitive Dance A Positive Experience
No matter how many inspirational messages you might feed your dancers, extolling the virtues of competition, there’s no getting around it: Competing can be scary. It can be a nerve-wracking experience for students, teachers and parents alike -- especially if you’re new to “the game.”
Aside from sweating it out in the studio (or over Zoom), putting in hours and hours of practice, how can you ensure that a dance competition is a positive experience for your group? Bringing home awards is certainly one way to measure success, but there’s so much more to competition than the decisions made by judges.
Here at Art Stone The Competitor®, we’ve been designing unique costumes for competitive dancers for more than half a century. Our team offers the following tips for enjoying a winning competition, no matter the final outcome.
Plan The Day
You can never control every aspect of an event, nor should you try! You can, however, empower your dancers and their parents with some thorough preparation.
- Do some advanced research, investigating everything from the number of competitors to the competition rules to the schedule and procedures, and then communicate your findings.
- Develop an itinerary for the day and distribute it to every participant, along with a list of items they should bring. You don’t want to be a drill sergeant, but providing structure for your dancers can help keep them focused while reducing their fear of the unknown.
- Hold a meeting beforehand to go over the plan and discuss any questions or concerns so that all dancers and their families are armed with knowledge and ready to face the challenge ahead.
Stay In A “Growth Mindset”
Competitions can be a learning experience like no other and should be used as a tool for growth. It doesn’t matter if the event is flawless or a flop, it will offer plenty of food for thought to take back to the studio and use in future rehearsals. Remind your dancers they are there to learn from every aspect of the competition -- coping with pressure, working together with their teammates, putting preparation into action -- and if they remain willing to learn, through elation and disappointment alike, the day will be an unmitigated success.
Be A Good Sport
Speaking of lessons, perhaps the most important one to teach your dancers is how to conduct themselves in a competitive atmosphere. If they show respect to you, their parents, their judges and fellow competitors, that will say far more about them than how they perform on stage.
It’s perfectly OK to be excited when things go well or disappointed when they don’t turn out as anticipated, but it’s important to keep both positives and negatives in perspective. Good sportsmanship is something they’ll carry with them throughout their lives, whether the continue dancing or not!
The ability to dance is a gift. In the midst of a global pandemic, with so many dance studios struggling to stay open, much less organize performances or travel together, the opportunity to attend a competition is truly a blessing.
At the end of the competition, meet with your dancers and ask them each to articulate one or two things about the day that they’re thankful for, or a few positives they’re taking from the experience. Share your own gratitude with them, so they’ll feel uplifted regardless of how well they performed.
In these stressful and challenging times, we believe dance is more important than ever, giving people of all ages an outlet for self-expression and a portal to greater self-confidence. Competitions can play a meaningful role in that experience, offering dancers and dance educators an opportunity to overcome fears, strive for new goals and achieve more than we ever thought possible.
If you’re preparing for an upcoming competition and want to achieve a specific look for a performance, you can count on Art Stone to provide one-of-a-kind competition costumes for contemporary and lyrical, jazz and funk, or any genre of dance. When it comes to achieving a positive competitive experience, looking great never hurts!