On My Mind: Find the Real Win in Competition

Words from the publisher

As we begin a new competition season, let’s remember that our goal should be to instill in our students a passion for performing rather than merely the desire to win awards. The satisfaction of an excellent performance is all the inspiration we and our students need to work harder and continue improving. We shouldn’t judge our students’ performances on the size of the trophies or the color of the medals they take home. And we shouldn’t judge ourselves or our abilities as teachers, mentors, and leaders by the results of a competition.

Photo by Mim Adkins

Our students’ participation in competitions is not merely part of their dance training; it’s also an important part of how we influence their growth as people. If we ask students to focus on the performance aspect of competition, the experience they gain from participating can be an excellent source of self-confidence. If the dancers feel good about a performance and understand that they become better each time they go onstage, they are truly growing through the competition experience. Hitting that stage and doing the best they can is what it’s all about; whether they win—or which award they win—is secondary.

The point of competing should not be to beat anyone, but to expose students and faculty to the highest caliber of talent available, both to motivate them and to give them an appreciation for other dancers and schools. Only then can we produce the best dancers and teachers possible.

Competition should be a part of our educational process, but not the entire focus. We need to give our students a range of performance opportunities and make it clear that the best reward for performing is audience applause and appreciation.

All the best to you as we enter this exciting new season.

 


DSL publisher Rhee Gold has owned a dance competition, presided over national dance teaching organizations, and founded Project Motivate. His book, The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance, is in its second printing.