One of the biggest pleasures teachers experience is when their students decide to participate in dance competitions. The anticipation and euphoria that is associated with a dance competition can sometimes lead to a letdown afterwards. Here are some tips to continue to ride that pre-competition high, even after a competition.
Your success at any particular event is set by your personal expectations. I have found that when we walk away disappointed, it is normally due to our own unreasonable expectations. One expectation we put upon ourselves is that of doing a perfect routine. I have competed for many years, and if that were one of the prerequisites for a successful event, I would have failed every time. I believe you should expect fumbles and forgotten material, it happens to everyone. Now that doesn’t mean that I want to make mistakes or am looking for them. My intention is to always do my best. What I teach my pupils is that success isn’t dependent on being flawless, but rather in how you recover. The more experience you get performing, the faster you will be able to recover, and pretty soon no one will even know there was a mistake. As a matter of fact, one time while I performed my professional Mambo routine at a dress rehearsal, I fell straight to my knees in the middle of it. I bounced back up and continued my routine so quickly that a student afterwards complimented me on “how cool” my drop was! She did not even know that it wasn’t on purpose. So make mistakes like falling in the middle of a routine look like they’re on purpose – that’s a reasonable expectation!
2. Give yourself enough time to rehearse
We have a saying in our studio – “I wish I had one more week!” No matter how much you prepare ahead of time, you will always want one more week. That being said, to truly feel prepared you want to make sure you give yourself enough time to learn the routine with all of its finer points. There are 3 main steps to this equation: 1. Learn the outline of the routine 2. Learn the details of the dance (like arm styling, head position, and characterization). 3. Muscle memory (repetition, repetition, repetition)! Before the competition, you need to plan to get to the repetition part of the equation as soon as possible.
3. Don’t worry about disappointing your teacher or partner
So often we get the “Competition Blues” not because of disappointing ourselves but fear of disappointing others. I hear it time and again. A student will say, “I feel bad; my teacher worked so hard and I messed up. I didn’t want to disappoint him (or her).” When I was a teacher, disappointment was the furthest thing from my mind. We are elated and so proud of our students for getting out there and stretching themselves to do great things. We are in a “parental” role here. Would you be disappointed with your kids when they make a mistake at a talent show? No, you would be beaming and so proud to see them up there! This is exactly how we feel! If you don’t quite get this, re-read tip #1 – set your expectations, and you’ll know that your participation automatically overrules any chance of our disappointment with you.
4. Long term progress
It is great to have small goals to work towards along with that big goal of “being a fabulous dancer”. Small goals along the way help to keep us motivated while working toward a big goal that seems as if it will take forever. Arthur Murray purposely hosts different events throughout the year to aid in this. It is key to remember if you stumble along the way that that is part and parcel of the journey. Any ups and downs you may have are part of the necessary progress to reach your ultimate goal. And it feels really good to meet the small goals!
5. Set a New Goal
One of the biggest reasons we experience post-competition blues is because afterwards, we don’t have a new goal set. With a new goal, you have the laser focus to meet it. You are motivated, focused, and excited! During the last event you experienced nervousness, adrenaline, and pure elation. You were on cloud nine! But once the event is over, you are exhausted. If you haven’t already set what your next focus is BEFORE that last competition happens, the next week you will probably move at a snails pace, dragging yourself into the studio with much less energy. You probably won’t practice as much before or after your lessons, AND … maybe you’ll skip out on group classes. Don’t do it! You want to use the high and momentum from that last event to continue your progress. We have found after years of teaching you will always progress faster if you have your new goal in place.
So, by all means, work with us to get you competition ready, but keep these five tips in mind before, during, and after any event, so you can ride that high! And don’t forget to read last week’s advice on leading and following.
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