For many young dancers and dance studio owners, the question of whether or not to participate in competitive dance is bound to come up. Some parents choose to seek out studios that dance competitively while others will go out of their way to avoid this scene.
Television shows such “Dance Moms” and “Toddlers and Tiaras” have brought up some major concerns regarding the world of competitive talent and beauty competitions for young people. While there is certainly a fair share of stage moms and egotistical directors within this community, the competition scene isn’t all negative. However, it’s also not a community for everyone. It is important that as a dancer or dance studio owner, you give yourself the chance to really understand what you’re looking for when it comes to dance. Read this list of pro’s and con’s to get in touch with what it is that you want for your studio.
The Pro’s and Con’s of Competitive Dance
Opportunities to travel. Competitions are held all over the country on a seasonal calendar. If the funds are available, dancers can have the chance to travel all the way across the country. However, it can also be exciting to explore the competition dance communities within more local boundaries.
Meet new people. Competitions give students and teachers the chance to meet new dancers from all over the country. Although some studios don’t encourage fraternizing with the competition, it can be a great learning experience to sit down and talk with other people who are immersed in a similar environment.
Master classes with well-known dancers are often available at competitions. This can give dancers the opportunity to learn new styles and take classes with new people. These teachers often serve as judges for the competition, which can be exciting for young dancers who will be performing for them.
Confidence is key. For young people who are beginning to develop their own personal identity, the idea of dancing competitively can be a great ego boost. No matter your age, it is exciting to be able to dress up and perform choreography that you have shed your blood, sweat, and tears for.
Dance competitions can be very expensive. You must factor in travel expenses, costumes, competition fees, warm-up gear, and more to your budget. If this adds up to be too expensive for your dancers families, it is probably best that you forgo this option. If you end up getting high scores, you may be invited to the next step up in the competition
Be prepared to invest even more of your time in dance. In order to live up to the standards of synchronization and technique, there is a huge time commitment involved. A six day a week dance schedule is not unusual for competitive dancers as young as five. This includes several hours of technique as well as a very strict rehearsal schedule in order to be ready for competition.
Culture Shock! If this is your studio’s first time at a competition, there will likely be a sense of culture shock for your students. For those who have never been around the competition dance scene, it can be surprising to see girls as young as five wearing fake eyelashes and barely there costumes. If this image makes you uncomfortable then competitive dance is probably not for you.
Insecurities can arise. Although competitive dance can help students gain confidence, it can also bring up a great amount of insecurity as dancers begin to compare themselves to one another. Some of the teenage competitors have been competing for many years and have gained reputations as dancers who are near impossible to beat. For teenagers who have never been a part of competitions, this concept can be very disheartening.
Dance becomes less of an art, more of a sport. You will find that competition judges seem to judge more on the height of the kick rather than the passion behind the dancer.
As a dance studio owner, no matter what you decide it is important that you communicate with your dancers and their parents regarding the reasons behind your choice. If you do decide to participate in the competitive dance scene, be sure that everyone involved understands the breakdown of the financial expectations and time commitment.
While the negative aspects of competitive dance can be intimidating, it is really up to the dancers to come into this environment with a positive attitude. It is important to remember that competition is not for everyone but for those who do choose to get involved, it is a huge commitment.
How do you feel about dance competitions? Do you think they’re a good thing? Do you think shows like Dance Moms have a negative effect on the way dance competitions are viewed?
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Ashani Mfuko is a Social Media Strategist, Digital Marketing Specialist, Award-Winning Blogger, and Professional Dancer. Ashani works with small businesses, corporations, & non-profit organizations as a Social Media Strategist and Digital Marketing Specialist. She creates results-driven, innovative social media strategies that are proven to increase your revenue and catapult your brand to expert status in your niche! She has an extensive track record of creating and implementing successful social media strategies for her clients.
She is also the Host and Executive Producer of the “Inside New York City Dance” television show on MNN, and is a proud wife and new mom.
Ashani has been featured in Dance Magazine, as a “Media Maven”, as well as in Dance Mogul magazine, Inside Woman magazine, & Dance Studio Life magazine, in addition to various dance blogs online. She is the author and creator of the, “Finance Your Dance: How To Turn Your Passion Into Profit“ e-book and workshop, and her dance blog won the Reader’s Choice, “Top Dance Business Blog” of the year award, two years in a row. She is a leader in the field of social media and digital marketing, and is highly sought after as a dance performer and dance teacher in the New York City dance community. Ashani is on staff at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, and teaches Advanced Jazz classes for their Jazz & Contemporary program & Ballet program.