1. Experience: The first and most important reason competitions are great for a dancer is that it gives opportunities – several times a year – to put yourself out on stage in a high-stakes environment. This training is absolutely priceless for young dancers, and there is no other venue where it is as feasible. Competition dancers become stage PROS! They learn how to rehearse effectively, work efficiently in class to prepare, work through nerves, focus amidst adrenaline and they get comfortable under those stage lights. As much as some in the professional world might “pooh pooh” competition dancers, rarely is one cut at an audition for lack of performing experience. Generally speaking – competition dancers know how to work the stage. And that is simply because competitions give them the opportunity to do so again and again.
2. 2 Words: JUDGES CRITIQUES. These dancers get to hear PERSONALIZED thoughts, opinions and expertise of dozens of industry professionals each year. How valuable is that?! Not only can these dancers improve and receive several ideas about their training through these critiques, but they, along with their teachers, can begin to understand how to dissect their choreography and find ways to make their performance more appealing to their audience. There is not any other semi-affordable way to get this many trained eyes on a dancer in one season. This alone (and well above the value of any trophy) should be reason enough to consider competition dancing.
3. Connections, connections, connections. There are few other (once again, semi-affordable) ways to: A) get your face in front of so many of the “Powers That Be” in the dance industry, and B) make countless lasting and useful connections with dancer-peers that could help you in your future. You know what they say – it’s WHO you know, not WHAT you know that will help you in the end!
4. OPPORTUNITIES! You can audition all the live-long-day… but rarely are you going to find a weekend where you can dance and perform all weekend – learn, grow, get connections, get personalized critiques – and on top of all of that, qualify for scholarships and opportunities galore! Many intensives, audition invitations, conventions, even Broadway shows and college dance programs have begun to learn that competition dancers are talented! These organizations benefit from having more talent in their respective programs – so they have teamed up with many competitions and conventions to give (literally) millions of scholarship dollars to -you guessed it- COMPETITION DANCERS! You could argue that a dancer could still get many of these scholarships through other means… However, you would be using hours of your time, lots of money and risking quite a bit of your future traveling to and/or video taping for dozens of auditions when as a competition dancer, these opportunities are spread out before you as you use these competition weekends for so many other benefits simultaneously.
5. Probably not the last – and certainly not the least of our list: Competitions have forced dancers, teachers and choreographers to become simply much, much better. Before competitions became hugely popular – dance was not nearly as cutting edge. Because of the grand exposure competitions (hand-in-hand with the internet and YouTube) have given dance, dancers are doing things they never dreamed of doing before! So much of the technique, “tricks” and flexibility seen on stage now were never even attempted 20 years ago. Teachers are noticing what the top studios are putting out there and asking – why not my dancers? It is pushing teachers to get better training themselves, hire great choreographers, and pass the best along to their students. So much inspiration, constantly pushing the envelope, evolving, stretching our creativity and proving that the human body has so few boundaries.