Got an itch for some serious dancing? Try a dance competition! It's never too late and it's definitely a great way to force yourself into high gear with your lessons. If you have a goal, you'll most likely work extra hard to achieve it. Therefore, you won't waste too much time chitchatting on your lessons. Your retention will skyrocket from practicing in and out of the studio. They are super fun and a great way to increase your dancing skills as well as your confidence.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
PRIOR TO THE COMPETITION
They require 100% commitment from you & your instructor. Don't bite off more than you can chew however; trust that your instructor may know just how much to push you. Pick dances that you are already good at as well as your weak ones. Competitions are a great way to take your "not so good dances" to a new level quickly. You'd be surprised
what a little focused practice can do.
WHAT ARE THE JUDGES JUDGING?
Posture, Timing, Line, Hold, Poise, Togetherness, Musicality and Expression, Presentation, Power, Foot and Leg Action, Shape, Lead and Follow, Floor Craft, Intangibles (not always in this order).
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your body. It will shine through while dancing.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE COMPETITION
It is EXTREMELY important to double-check your luggage to be certain that you have packed all of your competition gear. What are you wearing for the comp? Do you have outfits for all of the styles of dances you are entering? For example: Smooth, Standard, Rhythm, Latin & Solo Exhibitions. Your instructor should help you coordinate this.
GUYS: slacks, shirt, tie, vest, belt, jewelry (cuff links, button covers, etc.), black socks (or same color as slacks or shoe), dance shoes (Smooth and Rhythm).
DOLLS: dresses, jewelry (earrings, necklace, bracelets), hair accessories, makeup, false eyelashes, fishnet stockings, dance pants, proper undergarments, dance shoes (Smooth and Rhythm).
Get a good night's sleep!
AT THE COMPETITION
Jetlag or getting stuck in traffic can really affect your dancing. It is best to arrive a day early to get acquainted with everything. Plus, you can usually get a chance to feel the floor and practice your routines. Always be prepared. Bring your notes to the competition. Study them!!! Practice with other students or even alone. Your instructor may have several students at the comp and preparing everyone can be a tricky task. Get a list of your heats (dance times) and review them to be certain that all of them are accurate. Triple check that all of your entries are listed and that the categories/levels have been entered correctly. If not, find someone ASAP to make the proper adjustments. Be sure that your teacher will be available to dance with you in the new heat/s. If you want your dances video taped, you need to set that up right away with the videographer. Guys: Pin your number to your vest or jacket to avoid any last minute struggles. Be in the ballroom at least 45 minutes prior to your floor time. PRACTICE! Make yourself visible to your instructor. Relax & stay focused. 10 minutes before your heat time you should be in the "On Deck" area. Quickly figure out where you need to be for your next set of heats on the floor (beginning & end). Throw away any gum & breathe.
Once your foot hits the floor the competition begins!!! Your posture should be on point, smile should be blinding and big motions, can always be bigger. Walk with the utmost of confidence. Find your position on the floor for the beginning of your routine. Stand still and wait until the announcer says "music please". This is your cue to get into dance position. Sometimes the judges may need to see a number...if this happens to you, politely turn around so they can clearly read your number for at least 3 whole seconds, smile & return to dance hold. Take a deep breath, count & begin to dance. It will be over so fast that you may as well enjoy yourself out there. No matter what happens, keep dancing! Even the pro's have taken bad falls, slaps across the face, costume malfunctions & awful heel digs...but they keep dancing. Staying calm under pressure is what true competition is all about. Remember, the judges can only see one thing at a time. If you make a mistake, there is a good chance that the judges may not even see it. Recovery also counts for a great deal.
Exit the floor with the same grace as you had while entering. Don't go anywhere. The awards are usually just around the corner. Pick up your fabulous placement & enjoy the high of competing. You are a WINNER! Thank your teacher and tell them how wonderful they are and run back to the other students and show off your trophy.
Enjoy the rest of the competition. Cheer on the other students, go sight seeing, take a tour, eat great food, marvel at the professional competition and dance a hundred social dances with everyone.
Anything great that happens means that you are ready to be challenged further and perhaps a celebratory glass of champagne! If you felt like you made any mistakes or if someone out-placed you, it simply means you need a little more practice. You should relish in and be proud of how far you come, not stressed about how far you may have to go.
Either way, you can only improve!!! That's the best part. Now go break a leg!
See you on the dance floor!
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