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Rhee’s Blog | An opinion-dance competition

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Rhee BlogSome dance people on Facebook post that they are going to kick butt at a competition. I wonder if they are missing the point? Are they passing the “kick butt” mentality on to their students and parents who will be disappointed if they don’t end up kicking butt? Instead should we express how excited we are to see other dancers do their thing? We need to understand that dance is a gift, not a tool to beat others? ~Rhee Gold

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15 Responses to “Rhee’s Blog | An opinion-dance competition”

  • Theresa:

    This is one of the main reasons I do not participate in competitions at my studio. At one time I owned a studio in the Detroit area and had a number of students that took classes at other studios just so they could compete, but also took classes from my studio, to get away from that competition mentality and all the negativity that comes with it!

    I’ve talked with competition judges and directors that said if it weren’t for the HUGE amount of income generated by competition, they wouldn’t do it . . . what does that say?!

    Competition in general is not bad, but there are many negative aspects (loss of focus on dance, tricks-not-technique, students becoming overly competitive, non-competing students getting ‘lost in the cracks’, etc…). This mentality that the most important thing is to ‘kick butt’ tells students that the importance of dance is to win trophies, and there’s so much more to dance!

  • anita:

    This is the reason that I have put off doing competitions for over 30 years. My studio will be attending its first comp in March and I am trying to instill in my dancers that its not about scoring more than someone else, its about learning and growing from the experience, not just for the dancers but the teachers/choreographers as well. I’ve herad horror stories and have told my kids that this will not be my studio! Part of me wishes we could find another name, rather than “competiton”

  • VERY well put Theresa!! I feel like my dancers learn much more from performing in and around our community. We perform in about 6 local parades a year and a couple times a year for a large area school for disabled children & adults (our favorite audience!!). We have shared our talents with churches, Nursing Homes, theatre festivals, arts festivals and even on TV with about 500 other dancers in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade and the Cherry Blossom Parade in DC. We are now planning a trip to Disney. I believe these experiences are much more rewarding to my dancers then spending a large amount of money on an attempt at a trophy.(We actually have three trophies from local parades that were FREE to enter.)

  • Deb:

    I judge many dance competitions all across the country. I take this responsibility very seriously. Hopefully my comments about taking technique class, working on posture and placement and developing artistic skills are taken in the spirit they are given. Dancing is so much more than learning and performing competition routines. As a holistic experience learning dance provides experiences that help mold the character of young dancers; it teaches responsibility, builds self-esteem, and emphasizes the importance of teamwork. Teachers and students alike can learn so much from watching a dance competition. What makes certain dancers or choreography stand out? What artistic elements make certain routines work. It is not about the quantity of movement, but the quality of movement that makes a dance really work. The feeling the dancer portrays, the smooth, seamless connection of dance elements, the excitement of watching sustained movement, if the dancer takes our breath away, we know we are watching the making of an artist. No trophy provides reward that the inner feeling of accomplishment offers. A dance competition is a place to perform, to learn, to grow as an artist. What teacher’s emphasize is what students learn, so dancers, get in class and work on those plies and tendus!

  • marie:

    It’s interesting that I found this blog today, because I was seeking some insight on a recent experience. I have a small studio in a small town. My dancers are continually complimented on their technique and knowledge of technique by master teachers, at auditions, etc. I have placed a focus in our training on developing these areas as well as nurturing the sense of individual artistry. I believe that it is the responsibility of the instructors to give their best to the students and prepare them in a manner that they may take their training anywhere and be ‘competitive’ with other dancers (meaning for college programs, companies, etc). A few years ago we started doing competition/conventions for the exposure to all the teachers, professionals, different styles of teaching & dance. We take the approach to competitions as a way to work on presentation and get feedback on our progress. We have found these experiences to be a very positive experience for our dancers.

    Over the past several years we have had several students from another studio (their are only 2 studios in our community) taking classes at our studio to gain technical training and I am a firm believer in helping every dancer become the best dancer that they can be. These students come to me, often with 5-10 years of training at another local school, but do not even know basic terminology, steps or technical foundations (one student who came to us had over 10 years of training, taking 3-5 days a week of classes and could not even do a petite jete, tombe pas de bouree, glissade, jete combination!).

    My recent frustration is that this other school recently decided to attend a competition/convention that we have been going to for 3 years. I really am not concerned about what other schools in our area are doing, because we know what our vision and philosophy are and feel we are doing a great job in following our own direction. At this competition/convention, one of our shared students spent most of her time with our students, but was competing on the other team (and against us). I have tried to help my dancers understand that we need to stay focused on why we come to these events and it is not about other schools… but there were some understandable concerns brought to me by my dancers and my families. The main concern is that should we be allowing students to come to our studio for a class or two to gain the technical training that they are not getting at their studio, when they are on a competition team at another school that is clearly going to be competing directly against us. I am wondering if there are any other schools that have policies regarding this situation or anyone with thoughts or insight. I would truly be interested in hearing how others would handle this situation.

  • To Marie:
    In order to keep your competive parents happy and secure in your studio, you need to keep your classes limited to those students in your competition groups. You are not in NYC where several different studios and teachers are in the same building. Why should your parents pay for classes that will develop their dance skills in order to compete at a higher level, if this expertise is offered to other studio competition students. If you did not compete, then these other students should be welcomed in your studio. It is a matter of image, you want to be the good guy. You need to be the good guy to your own students as they are your livelyhood and your legacy.

  • marie:

    Thank you for your reply Joee. Your response was my initial feeling. We are looking at implementing a policy for next fall that would include open enrollment for any student who is not on a competition team for another local school and my feeling is that it can easily be explained by the fact that we have our own competition team. We have always been considered the warm, accepting & nurturing studio and I just want to make sure that we maintain that – but also are protecting what we offer. Best wishes!

  • Joee:

    To Marie:
    Make sure to keep the competition books from all your events and highlight the names of students from other schools for an easy access when they try to register. I solved this issue by making it very clear that I will not accept any student that competed in the last year for any local studio. I have 8 dance studios within a 5 minute drive time from my location and try very hard to stay out of the drama.
    Good luck to all your students…..

  • I am just wandering if their are any true dance conventions in existence today, or if
    everyone has gone to the competition mode. It seems like they have, which is truly sad. It has become a ‘do you compete’ or ‘no, we do not compete’ world in the dance business. My studio has been open for ten years now, and we do not compete, but we
    did for the first few years that we were open. Our small studio did win some
    Best Overall trophies and special honors. As an owner, I struggled with the ‘competition’ mindset, as I personally did not grow up with dance competitions. Instead, my studio attended dance conventions. I went on to pursue a dance career, and successfully danced with a nationally recognized ballet company, theme parks and cruise lines, choreographed for theme parks, and earned my actor’s equity credits in Chicago professional theatre.
    If anyone knows of dance conventions coming to Ohio (Columbus) this spring, please let me know.
    Thank you for your time!

  • Thanks for the great post! You have a new fan.

  • Really interesting article you got here. It would be great to read something more about this topic. Thanks for posting such info.

  • Jessica Mitchell:

    I also have a studio in a small town and until 2 1/2 years ago we were the only studio. When the newer studio came into town was when I took over the studio as owner from my dance teacher/owner. So the last couple of years have been rather difficult. But to top it off, they do competitions. Our studio is not and never will be a competing studio due to location and cost. Not to mention, time that would be taken away from my family that is already limited. I just got a bad review on my studio that said that because we didn’t do competitions, we were the lesser choice for dance studios. I know that I should not let this get me down. But, it takes 7 compliments to equal 1 negative statement. I strongly believe that if I have a competition team, students will really start to compete with each other and it wouldn’t be fun anymore. It’s just really hard to not get myself down when I am just trying to keep my head above water.

  • Shelly:

    When is it time for a dancer to stop competing? My daughter is 12 years old and wanting to pursue a life as a dancer. We think it is time for her to stop rehearsing for the four weekends of competition and start taking classes that will help down the road she wants to pursue. Yet, it is soo hard to leave behind the thrill of those weekends and the friendship bonds. How do you know when it is time to make the break?

  • [...] Check out all the competitors for the “Make Your Mark: Ultimate Dance Off – Shake It Up Edition! …-old Amir from Virginia; 13-year-old Christine and 15-year-old June Ann from New Jersey; 16-year-old Casey from Washington and 16-year-old Samantha from California; and AKsquared – 12-year-old Arielle, 12-year-old Alyssa, 14-year-old Kailey and 10-year-old Kalani from Arizona. [...]

  • Mary:

    I pulled my 11 daughter, who has only been dancing for four years , out of dance studio as it is now focusing on competition dance and “doing up” the costumes. It was a hard decisions to pull her out but I saw the dollar signs in the studio owners eyes. More, the dancers at the studios are not competition dancers but girls who enjoy dancing but are not skilled dancers. The competition circuit may not be for them. It is a small studio and never advertised itself as a competition when I applied. Sadly, I learned that six years earlier the studio owner had the girls participate in competition dance and the parents and the girls complained. So, they stopped after one year. My daughter is not a skilled dancer but just does lyrical to express herself. She is sad but understands that the studio owner’s business practices are problematic as I sat down with her and showed her the excessive cost of everything,

    Dance is expensive with four hour recitals for some studios and overpriced costumes. For some reason , the studio owner is not fully aware of the cost to parents. A good number of parents have pulled their kids out citing that expectations and cots are ridiculous. It is mandatory to purchase $75.00 ads for the recital books, mandatory participation in town events–extra costs.

    My daughter and I wil move on knowing that we’re going to do a lot of reflections.

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