A Parent's View to Dance Competitions

The thrill of the competition season may be seen differently from a dancer's, teacher's, or parent's perspective. As a teacher, we are always striving to have our dancers prepared, put together, and focused to do their best. As a student, they're just thrilled to compete and try to win that first place trophy. But as a parent, what is really going on in their minds as they see hundreds of boys and girls learning from the best choreographers and competing against their peers? Leah Crane is a newer parent here at FDF with two daughters who compete at the studio. After attending 24Seven Dance Convention in Rochester, Leah had many takeaways that we also wanted to share.

Just spent all weekend at 24 Seven Dance Convention and Competition with my girls. Back in my corporate days, we would do a debrief after any major event, recapping what went well / what didn't, what we learned, and what we needed to follow up on. Old habits die hard, so here are my key takeaways:

1. Dance conventions vs. straight-up competitions: They each have their pros & cons, but overall, I prefer conventions because - win or lose - the educational value and experience they receive in the workshops and auditions is huge.

2. The dance community is smaller than you may think, and how you treat people matters. I saw young dancers who were "too good" to say hello to their peers or to graciously accept a compliment or return one ... and meanwhile I saw superstar instructors like Kyle Robinson tirelessly sign autographs and take photos with a GIGANTIC crowd of kids while maintaining the same amount of genuine enthusiasm from the first picture to the last. I assume we're going to be running into these same students/competitors for years into the foreseeable future. So, #BeNice #BeLikeKyle!

3. On a similar note, I kinda felt like cheering when one of the instructors called out the kids who kept coming out to dance during every single small group, because come on, you're in ONE group, NOT all five. She pointed out that every dancer had a parent who had worked and paid for them to be there, and she told them they should respect that and respect one another; everyone should have their chance to be seen. The dancers who were doing this were generally the aggressive "stars," but I really just see this as selfish & rude behavior. True stars don't act this way. Studios have a responsibility to teach their dancers convention etiquette, which would include practicing ON THE SIDE when it's not their turn on the floor.

4. Getting back to my more positive side, which I always strive to be: I absolutely LOVE watching the teachers lead their classes at conventions. I love the passion they share and the environment they create. I remember Francisco Gella saying he wasn't looking for the "best dancer" but rather the "best student" when explaining the High Five awards; one's ability to focus and to apply corrections is what he was looking for. The teachers have high expectations for how the dancers take class, and that's great. I've always been one to believe that raising the bar is a good thing; people will strive to meet your expectations, so set them HIGH and watch what happens! By the way, if you're a dance mom and you don't follow Francisco Gella, you should, because he posts WONDERFUL stuff that your dancers should see.

5. A child's perspective is so different from an adult's, and honestly, it's refreshing. On the way home after competition on Saturday night, Vivie was so excited to be in the Top 10, and she asked me how many Mini solo entries there were. I said there were 10. Vivie and Georgie took 9th and 8th. I was very happy with their performances and couldn't be prouder, but still I worried that understanding that the Top 10 was actually the "only 10" might change their perception of their own performance... But without missing a beat, Vivie, like a ray of sunshine, said, "That's so nice that nobody was left out! No one had to feel bad for not making the Top 10." Say what you will about the "everyone's a winner" way of raising children in our society, I'm just glad and PROUD to see my kids taking things in stride and being happy for themselves and for everyone else's achievements! They SHOULD all be proud. They all worked hard and did great! I've never agreed with the "Dance Moms" attitude that 2nd place is 1st loser. That's crap! ;-)

6. Georgie got me to go up on stage and take part in the Parents Dance-Off during the closing show. I could see her in the audience by looking off stage right, but I couldn't see SQUAT looking straight out, because the lights were shining so brightly in my face. It was interesting to see things from that perspective! Also, I got stage fright and felt like I barely remembered how to MOVE, let alone attempt to dance. It seems like it's ALWAYS a dad who wins these things, though, so I pretty much knew I had no chance from the start. ;-)That being said, I'm motivated to learn how to do "The Worm" so I can increase my chances for a future dance off. (Or else convince Ben Crane to get up there and compete for a scholarship for our girls.)

7. Just say NO to nude-colored leotards. No, no, and no. NO!

Thank you, Leah, for your perspective on things. It keeps us balanced as teachers and we love the lessons you are teaching your children.

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