Competing in your first dance competition can be an emotional experience. Even if you and your team attend a competition without competing (which I highly recommend), the first time you actually put your team up for judging can be an overwhelming experience. Many studios experience the “first competition blues” which can be quite a burden to deal with. Here are some tips to alleviate those “blues.”
Approach the First Competition As a Learning Experience
Make sure you, your students, and their parents understand the first competition is a base assessment. There is a good chance you will not place. This does not mean your team is not talented; this means that you have something to learn from the competitions. The judges critiques, other performers, and overall atmosphere are rich in information you and your team can absorb to better your own program.
Understand Where You Are
Many professional dancers have never competed. Competition scores do not make the team or dancer. That being said, if you wish to pursue competitions and better your team for competitions look at the scores and make sure you and your team fundamentally understand where you currently are. Realistically look at the way you placed and what the judges had to say. Take the critiques gracefully and try to apply corrections in a positive manner.
Make A Plan
Whether your plan is to drastically improve or to leave the competition circuit altogether, make a plan of action. Winning competitions takes years of effort from both you and your students. It is important to make sure everyone (including the parents) is on board with the plan you have developed for your team. Approach the work in an intelligent way and make a decision that is right for everyone involved.
Do Not Eliminate the Joy
Reality TV shows are only so “real.” If you remove the joy of dance from your students, they will not stick around. Great dancers are built from passion, dedication, hard work, and happiness. Give constructive criticism and receive criticism graciously. Be a role model for your students demonstrating how to move forward based on feedback in a positive manner. Competitions should not be all about placement; there is so much the students learn from just being on stage in a competitive environment. In addition, sharing your art should be a joyful experience that students are excited about.
Celebrate and Be Proud
Whether you are a top scorer or not, performing at a competition is an event worth celebrating. Take pride in the work you and your team put into the routine and the bravery it takes to place your work on stage in a competitive setting. Learning to appreciate your effort and your team’s effort whether successful or not is an essential skill that competitions can give to those involved.