Competitions get a bad rep sometimes. (And the ever-growing popularity of Dance Moms doesn’t necessarily help public opinion.)
But while your school friends may see dance competitions as not much more than makeup, trophies, and stereotypical stage moms, we know they’re one of the best things for you as a growing and aspiring dancer.
Here are five reasons competitions absolutely rock—and none of them have to do with winning trophies!
1. They’re a chance to perform. The single most valuable thing you can do if you aspire to be a professional — or even collegiate — dancer is to get as much performance experience as possible. Competitions are great ways to get onstage almost every weekend. Performing often will boost your confidence and get you more comfortable dancing in front of an audience.
2. They’re a time to get valuable feedback from professionals. When else can you get a panel of judges — sometimes including dance industry heavy hitters like Tony Award-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, Jo+Jax co-founder Joey Dowling, “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographer Mandy Moore, or Hollywood’s go-to choreographers like Brooke Lipton, Tyce Diorio and Brian Friedman — to watch you dance and give you honest feedback? Never. This is the time. Embrace it, relish it, and use it to help your dancing.
3. They’re a gigantic source of inspiration and admiration. Like a Pinterest explosion of the best talent you’ve ever seen. Whether you’re looking for a fellow dancer to give you a little push to start working harder in the studio or you’re on the lookout for a cool new move or trick to try for yourself, look no further than your local dance competition. From solos to production numbers, you’ll see a little bit of everything, and you’re bound to be inspired by most of it.
4. They’re breeding grounds for future professional dancers. Former comp kids are absolutely dominating the professional dance world right now, from ballet companies (New York City Ballet power couple Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild are both former New York City Dance Alliance regulars) to contemporary troupes (pretty much every Shaping Sound dancer, from Travis Wall and Teddy Forance to Jaime Goodwin and Mallauri Esquibel, honed their chops on the comp circuit) to Broadway (Fiddler on the Roof‘s Melanie Moore and Hamilton‘s Ariana DeBose and Neil Haskell are all comp vets) to the big and small screens (Haylee Roderick and Jeremy Hudson grew up competing and will perform in Grease Live! alongside Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens). So needless to say, the comp stage is a good one to start on.
5. They’re a time to spend time with your best friends — and make new ones! What better way to hang out with your girls than in the dressing room, in the audience, onstage, and grabbing snacks in between performances? Competition memories are the best memories, both with your current team and with dancers you’ll meet from other studios. (Studio rivalries are so not a thing anymore. Make new friends, keep the old, and you can all strive for platinum, silver, and gold.)
Oh, and did we mention they’re fun? Competitions are so. much. fun.
If you’re on the fence about competing — or if you’re nervous about attending your first event — give it a try. Worst case scenario is you forget your choreography or have a costume malfunction, and you’ll survive. Best case scenario? See reasons 1–5 above.