Dance competitions, whether for a new competitor or a veteran of the stage, can be exciting and nerve-wracking weekends! “Did I remember all my shoes?” “What if my hairpiece falls off?” “I have finals next week and 16 routines to perform and haven’t even cracked a book!” Never fear! In this week’s blog, we are sharing some tried and true ways to lessen anxiety, prepare for a fun weekend, and help others in the process!
No doubt - competition can be stressful! Even the word “competition” conveys a fair amount of stress. Instead of looking at the event as high stakes, reframe your perception. This is a chance to do what you love, and to watch others do what they love! To ease your nerves, try projecting positive energy on others - encourage a younger dancer, congratulate someone from another studio, or offer to help the mini company warm up. By focusing on others, you can relax your own fears.
If you’re a competitive dancer, you have probably figured out how to manage your time pretty efficiently. During a competition weekend, however, there can be a lot of pressure to be everywhere at once. “The Juniors are dancing in Room 2 while my sister is competing in Room 1!” “There are fun social media contests all day!” “This group of friends is going to lunch but my other friends are going somewhere else!” How do you keep up and still have the focus and energy you need to do your best on stage?
Make sure you carve out some downtime for yourself over the weekend, even if it’s only to go to the bathroom alone (seriously!) If you’re doing a solo, bring your favorite playlist along and find a quiet corner to warm up, psych yourself up, and focus. If you thrive on a group dynamic, grab a few friends and partner stretch. But, a gentle reminder - everyone is different! If your friend seems stressed or uncomfortable with you hanging around while she practices a turn sequence, quietly excuse yourself. Hey! Perfect time for that solo potty break!
Consider creating your own competition checklist a few weeks before the event. Use fun pens, stickers, and paper, or download a checklist app to your phone to keep track of what you will need for the weekend. The senior team from The Dancers Studio in Kennesaw, GA shared these “can’t live without” items - spray body glitter, flip flops, a good attitude, fuzzy socks and a blanket, a travel mirror, and a phone charger. Don’t forget to include basic things like safety pins (for that strap that is threatening to detach itself from your crop top), double sided tape (for your spats that refuse to stay up), and hairspray (it does more than just keep your hair in place - mist it on your face to lock in your look, spray on the bottom of your tap shoes to prevent slipping, or dab a bit onto the run in your tights).
At the end of the day, remember that competition is fun. Root for your friends, cheer for your new friends, and thank your parents and teachers for all they do. When you’re prepared and ready for anything, you’re sure to have a rewarding weekend!
Lesley Mealor is a current professional dancer, teacher and adjudicator based out of New York City. She is a full time in-demand competition judge and currently serves at the Administrative Assistant and Editor for Impact Dance Adjudicators.