A note on Competition Dance from Miss Shelby

Posted by Rosemary Rogers on August 14, 2021 at 1:25 PM

What does dancing mean to you? This is a question I like to ask my students. They typically don’t have an answer right away, so I tell them to think about it and get back to me, watching the gears turn in their minds as we proceed through class. I ask them this because it is not something one usually thinks about at the young age that most of us start dancing, and I believe it is an important part in a dancer’s training. We all know that dance classes aren’t cheap. Being a dancer takes up a lot of time, and it is a lot of hard work. But it is also one of the most rewarding experiences I have had the pleasure of encountering in my life, and I feel honored to be able to continue sharing that passion with my students. Becoming part of a competition team can not only help them realize that passion, but further strengthen and nourish it. It can help them create physical, mental, and emotional building blocks to carry with them and provide structure to build upon for years to come.

The foundation of a competition team is combining that passion with technique. Of course you can have one without the other, but possessing both is what creates a well-rounded dancer. In our team classes, we focus not only on technique, but musicality and dynamics as well through choreography and improvisation exercises. We use the knowledge and skills students learn in these classes to choreograph competition routines that are tailored to the students’ strengths, but also present a challenging aspect. Over the course of the season, we see these routines come to life as we watch their hard work pay off at the various competitions we attend. And if we’re lucky enough, we see their love for dance emerge stronger come the next season, and their technical skills improved.

But that is just one facet of being on a competition team. We are building stronger dancers but we are also building stronger, more confident, compassionate people. The friendships students make in a dance class go beyond the studio walls. My best friends even to this day are people I danced with from a young age. As these are formative years, we encourage camaraderie through team building, as well as being respectful of others, which is important when competing against other studios. Performing on stage helps instill confidence in a young dancer and person, which also starts in the classroom. There is a balance between being instructional and being critical, and that is something we as teachers are responsible for imparting in and out of the classroom.

So, what does dance mean to me? It has always been my saving grace. It is an outlet for self-expression, a tool for creating self-discipline, and a calming sense of stress relief. When I walk into the studio, the rest of the world falls away. I hope to inspire my students in the same way they inspire me, and provide them with the many opportunities that being on a dance team offers.

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