These days there are more dance competitions than ever. From tiny tots shimmying into pre-competitive divisions to professionals dancing for their lives every week on "So You Think You Can Dance," trying to win prizes, titles and trophies has become a national pastime.
The Eisteddfod is held annually offering competitive and non-competitive sections for all types and styles of dance, vocal, instrumental, speech and drama. For several weeks each year, participants compete and perform, covering the full spectrum of the performing arts.
Competitions don't have to be all about winning. There's a lot to be learned from putting yourself onstage next to your peers and asking to be judged. In order to do well, dancers need to focus less on what everyone else is doing and more on their own performance. If you dance to the best of your ability the day of competition, while staying true to your essence (or spirit), you will be a winner, even if the judges don't agree.
Good competitors learn to handle both wins and losses with similar dignity and grace. Being judged is part of a dancer's life. School and company auditions are competitive. So is vying for a solo or lead role in your upcoming studio's performance.
A good performance depends on the dancer's ability to draw attention to the dance. The spirit of the dancer needs to be at the centre of his/her work. This is what captivates the judges and audience and draws them into the piece. No matter what style of dance, the dancer should never work "mechanically" or "hollow" on stage.
Each dancer's body moves in a way unique to his/her body shape. There is no way you could say this dancer is better than that dancer. A dancer could be technically correct, yet have no true feeling for the dancer. A dancer who can connect with the audience may be far less "able" than another dancer, but she has connected to the soul of the dance, and can share this with the audience. George Balanchine called this type of dancing, "Deep dancing - the world where there are no names for things" - not performing a fouette, a pirouette, a fancy trick, but simply dancing.
FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT COMPETITIONS
1. Whatever the outcome, if you take it seriously and work hard, the experience will teach you something. It may not be what you expected, but that's OK.
2. If you can focus your energy, and dance to the best of your ability that day, you've succeeded.
3. The judges want to see your personal flavour, your essence, not just how many turns you can do. Your style may be subtle, but if it's honest, they'll notice.
4. There's always going to be someone better than you, and most of the time, you're going to be better than someone else. So if it's not your day, just move on - your time will come.
5. Be fearless. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.