Ask Rhee Gold: Changing Your Faculty’s Perspective on Competition

Advice for dance teachers | Changing Your Faculty’s Perspective on Competition

Q: Dear Rhee,

Although I enjoy the competition experience and I know that my students learn and grow through the process, some of my faculty members believe that preparing students for competition is the most important aspect of teaching. How would you suggest that I remind teachers that not all students will win and that it’s OK for kids to be thrilled simply with getting onstage and remembering their choreography? And that competition is not the be-all and end-all of what our school is about? Thank you. —Tara

A: Dear Tara,

It’s time to change your faculty’s perspective; they need to know that your goal is to instill in your students a passion for performing rather than merely the desire to win awards. Toward that end, make sure your competitive dancers have performance opportunities beyond competitions. They could be doing lecture-demonstrations, nursing home performances, community benefits, and so on. Explain to your faculty that you know the kids will learn as much through non-competitive performances as they do through the competition experience.

Ask teachers to consider students’ participation in competitions not merely as part of their dance training, but as an important part of influencing their growth as people. With the right focus, the experience students gain in competition 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. Doing the best they can is what it’s all about; whether they win—or which award they win—is secondary.

Tell your teachers that by having students participate in competitions, you hope to instill in them an appreciation for other dancers and schools. You are not out to beat anyone; instead, you hope to motivate both students and faculty by exposing them to the highest caliber of talent available. Only then can you produce the best dancers and teachers possible. Competition is about education, not winning! —Rhee