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Lessons Learned from Dance Competitions

Now that this year’s dance competition season has ended, you may well need a few months away from thinking about competitions to recharge your batteries ­– especially if the season was particularly hectic. You might even start wondering whether competing is worth all the time and effort. But in your heart, you know it’s totally worth it

Before you take that well-earned break from dance competition season, now is a good time to look back and find the lessons that will help next year’s season be even better. Here are some questions to ask yourself, your teachers, and perhaps even your parents and students, to find out what worked and what could be improved.

Organizational challenges

  • Were there any registration or paperwork hiccups?
  • Did traveling go smoothly? Or were there delays due to things such as getting lost, finding parking, car troubles, etc. that stressed the team out?
  • What items did you need at the last minute, but couldn’t find? Did accessories go missing or break and you didn’t have any extras? Did the kids have enough nutritious snacks to keep them going?
  • How did the parents do with their packing? Could they easily find all dance costume components or did you both wind up scrambling to find the right shoes and accessories for the right outfits? Did they bring the hair and makeup tools they needed? Who had packing challenges? Was the packing list you gave parents incomplete or difficult to understand? How could you make it easier?

Performance prep challenges

  • Were the kids being overworked by a crazy competition program? You can’t do a lot about the official program, but you can control what happens in between performances. Are they getting enough sleep? Do they have some time to hang with their friends and make some new ones? Running through a number just one more time may have seemed like a good idea, but were there times when perhaps it would’ve been better to give them time off?
  • How well did you read your dancers’ state of mind before a performance? Did you get them excited and inspired? Did you reduce their anxiety? Or did you increase their stress? If so, what did you do, or say, that you want to change next time? Which dancers might have responded better to a one-on-one talk?
  • Did you rely enough on your staff and team leaders to keep the team prepared, motivated, and having fun? Or did you finish each competition weekend completely wiped out because you took too much on yourself? What tasks did you handle this year that you could delegate next year?
  • How did first-year competitive dancers handle the stress and craziness of dance competitions? What steps can you take to help new students and their families better integrate into and thrive in a competitive atmosphere?
  • Did each team member have clear expectations about the competition’s goals? How well did you communicate team and individual goals?

Post-performance challenges

  • How well did your team play with others? Were they respectful to their competition or was there any pettiness? If your dancers won, did they gloat or rub it in to the losers? If they lost, did they accept it with grace?
  • Did everyone take time to watch and learn from the competition? Were they able to take away real lessons or was there just nitpicking? Did they get down on themselves? How did you help them learn from their, or others’ mistakes?
  • How did everyone respond to judges’ feedback? Did they immediately reject it? How well did they consider it? How well did you guide them to figure out what were valuable take-aways?

There’s always room for improvement

Isn’t that the mantra? It’s valid for dance and for dance competitions. Even if your team rocked every competition, there’s always something to work on (perhaps not getting too cocky and retaining a spirit of good-natured competition?). If you’re interested, run through a quick checklist of dance competition for studios prep tips before you do your post-season analysis.

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