Many studio owners have grappled with the question: how do I go about choosing competition teams? We combed our studios and got many varied responses. Choose the ones that best fit your studio’s needs and personality!

For your competition teams, at the beginning of the year:

1) Survey the student population: Some studios have families fill out a form if they are interested as well as offer them information as to what being on a competitive team entails from the time commitment, fees, extra classes, etc.

2) Audition versus Open enrollment: Studios are split in terms of an “open enrollment” policy versus auditioning for the team.

  1. Pro… Auditions: Auditions let some studio owners know who can “cut it”. Auditioning can be a great opportunity to learn and grow as a dancer and to prove who might be a good team member. Several studios hold auditions but use them simply for placement purposes. Other studios feel that auditions for dancers younger than 8 are too much pressure.
  2. Pro… Open Enrollment:  Many studios have open enrollment as long as the student has the right attitude, level of commitment, and understanding of financial responsibilities. Many studios require the competition team members to attend classes during the summer as well as signing a contract. Rather than the audition process, each student is evaluated every day in class, making sure that each dancer is consistent in terms of progress, passion, and commitment. If team members are viewed to be slacking off, they are given warnings and time to pick up their game. If expectations are not met, that student is dismissed from the team. Having auditions, according to some studios, creates the possibility that some talented kids would be overlooked, causing a missed opportunity to give them a chance to blossom.

3) Teacher/Staff Selections: Some teams are elite, and students are asked to the team by invitation only. This eliminates the need for auditions but can narrow the ability to have kids you would never dream rise to the occasion and excel simply by having higher demands put on them.

4) Rolling enrollment: Some studios like to have the opportunity to join a team throughout the year. If a student joins midway, it can not only be an advantage for the studio financially, but also an inspiration to students who might not be ready in September, but are ready in January. In this case, studios often have the student take a private to learn a routine, and then a placement “audition” to understand which number they would best be suited for.

5) Requirements: All studios have a list of requirements that each student and family must fulfill in order to be on and stay on the team. The most successful schools have clearly outlined responsibilities in the competitive team packet. Some of these rules include:

  1. Time commitment.
  2. Cost commitment.
  3. Ability of parents to handle stressful situations in an appropriate and non-confrontational way.
  4. Ability to attend all competitions and rehearsals.
  5. Ability to perform specific moves.
  6. Having studied with the studio for at least 1 year.
  7. Having taken a specific class load and a specific number of classes.
  8. Reached a specific level of dance ability.
  9. Attitude and class performance.

To put it in the words of one studio owner, there is no one perfect solution, but there seems to be a consensus in letting as many of their students compete as possible:

“It all depends on why you have a competitive. Is it for fame and fortune? Is it to give the kids something to look forward to…? Competition is what some families come for—just like some families love the thrill of their kids in little league games– or horse shows–or football; competitions are OUR version of the team competition. I like to give as many students as possible a chance to compete, while not entirely bringing the level of dance down. I have different “levels” of ability so that there is some equal opportunity– while also managing the parents’ expectations of winning. It’s about ATTITUDE and COMMITMENT!”

Hope this gives you some great ideas on how to choose YOUR competitive team!