We’ve already considered how competitive dance can help students develop positive peer relationships as well as become more focused and driven in their approach (see Part 1). In this article, we’ll consider some of the other benefits that dance competitions have to offer students who engage in them. These include networking, maturing in their character, and encouraging future progress.
Developing Networks Within the World of Dance
A dance student with real talent who is never out there in competitions may not find as many opportunities to get noticed as a student who competes. If a dancer’s goal is to eventually work professionally in the dance industry, the connections made through competition may prove extremely valuable in reaching their career goals. It also provides those in the industry with a chance to learn about up and coming dancers they may seek to employ.
Developing Mature Character
Learning to work well with other students as a team is a big part of successful competition. Dance classmates who compete together have a chance to learn how to support, encourage, and depend on one another as a team. They’ll also have an opportunity to learn the art of both winning and losing graciously. These are valuable life skills that can help them in a variety of different situations which they’ll face in their futures both inside and outside the realm of dance.
Developing a Desire to Progress
Without some form of competition, some students tend to grow stagnant in their progress. They may see little improvement. Having the goal of getting to move up to the next level in dance competitions can be a strong incentive for an aspiring dancer to work harder on mastering their techniques and learning their routines.
Disadvantages of Competitive Dance
By this point, you likely recognize that there are some clear advantages to having dance students engage in competition as a part of their training. But what about the objections from those on the other side who say that these possible positives of dance competition don’t outweigh their potential drawbacks? For the rest of this article, we’ll look at some of the cons.
Competition can Lead to Serious Injuries
Some critics of competitive dance point to the higher rate of injury seen in students who participate in competitions when compared to those who don’t compete. The more frequent and serious the level of competition, the greater the risk of injury seems to become, especially in schools where students are pressured to perform at challenging levels. These injuries can end up delaying or even, in certain worst-case-scenario circumstances, completely derailing a dance student’s future dance career goals.
Competition can Impede Mastery of Technique
At first glance, this point would seem to be a mistake. After all, isn’t the point of dance competition to push dancers forward in their progress and help them to succeed? Yes, and no. A class that’s not competition based can focus almost exclusively on individual mastery of techniques. They’re not forced to spend so much time going over and over the same routine that must be memorized for competition. As a result, some non-competing students may actually become more precise in their technical skills than some students who are constantly devoting themselves to learning routines for competition.
In our next article, we’ll consider a few more disadvantages of competitive dance. Then we’ll take a few minutes to look at how these two philosophies play out in the dance studio. Finally, we’ll seek to find common ground between the two camps.