Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Ballet competition societies have been taken by surprise with the sudden surge in dance solo entries in recent months. Parents now find themselves diligently posed over their computers and/or phones waiting for websites to unlock the online entry forms, counting down the nerve-racking seconds while continuously pushing the refresh icon... to hopefully achieve the ultimate goal, entry success! One can't help but feel like a winner even before the competitions have started! But what if one misses out..? Overwhelmed organisers are sadly left with the task of taming angry crowds of parents, consoling upset students and shrugging shoulders at bewildered teachers when entries have reached the limit within 15 minutes. It wasn't that long ago major competition events organiser, the likes of whom, run the Alana Haines Australasia Award, where coaxing complacent schools and parents too, " Hurry-up, get your entries in"!
Has Facebook and Instagram changed the dance student of today? Absolutely! A tangible energy force has been created which fuels this dance competition craze. The tantalising glitter and glamor of of what they see online is just to strong to ignore, they must have it too! Teachers are now being bombarded with unrealistic choreographic demands from parents resulting in their 'little darlings' amassing an impressive 8 solo's under their belt, armed and ready to outwit and outnumber the competition, all at the tender age of 10 years. Unfortunately to much of a good thing eventually turns into a bad thing. Young bodies and young minds are being put at risk all for the sake of a couple minutes of stage time.
Advice for Parents and Competitors:
Lesson 1: Don't let competitions make you go crazy! Like any good gambler who carefully weighs up their odds, failure is a possibility, if not, an inevitability. Learning how to fail will be your biggest reward, even though you don't feel it at the time.
Lesson 2: The judge has the right to like whomever he/she likes. If that's not you on the day then it does not mean to say another judge won't like you on a different day. As individuals, we all have different tastes in food, movies, clothes, and people! Don't take it to heart if you feel the judge doesn't like your costume, song, dance or even you. Somebody just round the corner will just adore you.
Lesson 3: Use competitions as a chance to perform to ultimately learn how your mind and body reacts under pressure. Learning how to be comfortable on stage is a big part of letting your true ability shine. Nerves can play havoc with your technique and artistry and the only way to overcome them is by just doing it again and again. The experience will 'de-nerve' you over time especially if you go solo. Once you become more comfortable out on the stage try taking more risks (an extra turn or hold an arabesque a little longer) then when your confidence improves start trying to feel a connection with the audience and gauge their reaction as you progress through your dance.