It’s that time of year again, when hundreds of thousands of dancers, instructors, parents, and other spectators cram into auditoriums, gymnasiums, and theaters all over the country for one sole purpose: DANCE COMPETITIONS. Dancers and instructors work hard all season improving their technique, choreographing, stretching, training, sweating, rehearsing, falling down, jumping back up, leaping, lunging, breathing (hard), and perfecting their routines. All for the thrill of PERFORMANCE.
Dancers dance because of the feeling they feel when freedom meets expression. When movement meets emotion. When their heart pours out on stage and is picked up and held by the hands and hearts of their audience. Although shows like “Dance Moms” make us out to be machine-like super humans who only care about winning, this is hardly true for the majority of the dancers in the world. Winning has nothing to do with our passion for dance. In fact, it is more like the sprinkle on top of the cherry, on top of the whipped cream on top of the icing, on top of the cake. No matter what score or what place or what type of metal your dancer is awarded, remember that they dance for the way it makes them feel, not for bronze, silver, high silver, gold, high gold, platinum, double platinum, or diamond. (What ever happened to bronze, silver, and gold, anyway?)
So what should you expect going into a dance competition? Expect a good amount of emotion… happy, sad, frustrated, nervous, cranky, happy, tired, happy, crazy, tired, and happy. Quite the roller coaster ride, but so worth it! Hopefully, mostly happy’s but it’s not uncommon for your dancer to feel sad or upset at themselves for missing a step in the routine or forgetting to point their toe on that battement they’ve been working on so diligently (even if nobody else noticed it). Or for them to be upset by the score or place they received. Whatever you do, don’t add fuel to the fire. Stay positive and remind them why they dance. Let them know just how awesome you thought they performed. Hug them and love them and support them unconditionally, regardless of what score or place they received. Hopefully, your dancer’s instructors and studio directors will do the same, and if not, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your choice of dance studio. After all, your child’s happiness is what’s most important, right?
So before your dancer takes the stage, let them know how proud of them you are. Let them know that you believe in them and that you know they’ll do a fabulous job. Wish them luck and tell them to do their best, dance their hardest, and most importantly to HAVE FUN and if they do those three things, they will succeed whether they come in first or last place. As with beauty, success and happiness are in the eye of the beholder. 🙂
Good Luck!! Dance Hard!! And HAVE FUN!!
~ Miki Hegg, Assistant Director, ECSOD