Get out the fake hair! Bust out the make-up! Glue on those false lashes and get on the road…it’s time for dance competition season!
Is it appropriate to say try your best? Just have fun? Kick some ass? Don’t come back to the studio without a trophy? Haa! There are many different takes on how to prepare the dancers for competition. I am not currently teaching or choreographing for competitive dancers. I teach grown-ups now. But back in the day, when I did have competitive dancers, I was more of a “do your best and have fun” kind of a teacher.
Is it really all about winning?
Well…winning can be nice. Haa!
Winning IS the goal of any contest. But, it really ISN’T everything.
Competitions can also be about testing new choreography. Working on performance skills. Assessing how you measure up in the greater picture of things outside your own studio. And a big one is seeing how you dance under pressure. Sometimes you will be the best and you will win. Sometimes you will not be the best and you will not win. Sometimes you will be the best but you will still not win. A dance competition is not always a clear cut, who danced best situation. The adjudicators are humans with their own style preferences and tastes in music. If you remind the judge of his ex-girlfriend maybe you don’t win? If you did a comedy number but the judge prefers a more technical piece…? Hard to judge. These people are human and their personal preferences will come into play. So you need to just go to the competition, presenting your best, showing them what you’ve got and see what happens. Some adjudicators like to look more at faces. Others will stare at your feet and knees, waiting to see if your technique holds up. Just make your big, enthusiastic entrance, make lots of eye contact and do your thing!
If you get a chance to watch the competition before it is your own turn, then you may be able to get a few ideas about which adjudicator likes which style. If judge number one loves being smiled at then direct your teeth towards that judge and don’t stop smiling! Judge number three is horrified by too much booty shaking? Tone it down a smidge for them maybe? But even without knowing anything about them in advance you have to just go out onto that stage, trust your instincts, do the choreography you have prepared and work it!
It is a competition but it is also a performance opportunity. Adjudicators aside, engage the audience, have fun and put on a good show. Don’t let your nerves get to you and don’t let the desire to win outweigh your enjoyment of performing.
Be gracious and thankful when winning and please, still smile even when not winning. No one can win every time and it really is not the end of the world if you place third. Remember that your dance may have been spectacular but the adjudicators just liked another one a little more. Remember that you want to be honest and if you did discover that you have things that should be worked on and improved upon then take the information back to the studio and start training.
As I said earlier, I am the kind of teacher and choreographer that above all else will tell you, as you are about to go on to the stage…
Enjoy it! Break a leg! Do your best! Go crazy!
Have tons of fun!
And be very, VERY dancified!!!!