Dance competitions have become a place for studio owners to win prestige and medals. Many owners have parents pressuring them into ensuring their teams receive the highest scores. But dance competitions should not be about medals and studio prestige; dance competitions serve a much more important purpose in the lives of the many young women and men who compete in them.
Performing Under Pressure
Dance competitions allow the performers to learn the value of performing under pressure, a skill which translates into nearly every possible job in the world. The competition stage is metaphorically a deadline. The dancers must be prepared as a team to present their best work at a given point in time, as any employee must meet similar deadlines with a team. Learning to properly prepare for an event or task and then execute the task given one opporunity is a challenge every human faces on a nearly daily basis. Students also learn that humans are not perfect. We all make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes occur on stage. Learning to cope with the mistakes and learn from them moving forward is an essential skill taught through competition.
Performing in Front of an Audience
Performing in front of an audience is one of the most important skills a human can learn. Whether you are on a stage in front of thousands or selling a product to another person, performance in front of an audience is an essential skill students pick up from competition. Executing complex movements in front of a crowd with confidence transcends the competition stage; students learn to feel comfortable in their skin and have confidence in front of a large group. Students get to participate with a team (this gives them a sense of support) and then eventually perform a solo (as they gain experience) easing them into solo performance in front of a group. This life long skill is one of the most valuable takes away from competition dance.
Learn About Competitive Markets
The world is a highly competitive place. We all want our students and children to have success in whatever they choose to pursue. Dance competitions are an excellent source for teaching how hardwork, dedication, and talent show through in performance (performance again being a metaphor for the way onstage performance relates to the future work place). Students learn first hand that the world is a highly competitive market and in any field each applicant will have something unique to offer.
Gracefully Receiving Feedback
The judges at dance competitions provide feedback based on their expert knowledge. Students learn to present work they are completely confident in and then receive constructive criticism informing them how they can improve. Learning to take something your are passionate and confident in, receive criticism, and then use it improve your overall product is a priceless lesson that teaches the art of continuous improvement in addition to humbly accepting advise on a product you feel confidently and passionately about.
The Skill of Learning From Competitors
Dance competitions directly teach the value of watching your competition. Any business, employee, or dancer will find many advantages of observing the competition in the market and learning where they can improve based on what the competitor has to offer. Dancers must "research" (take the time to watch competitors) in order to "gain knowledge" (see how the competition performs) which will lead them to understand their overall success in the "market" (competition).
Dance competitions are an excellent teaching tool for any young dancer. The lessons transcend dance and carry over into nearly all mediums of work that a person can choose. Dance competitions are not and should not be about the medals; dance competitions should be about using the art of dance to teach students valuable skills that will last a life time.