7 Secrets to Competition Success

7 Secrets to Competition Success

This article describes 7 secrets to success at your next competition.

This article describes 7 secrets to success at your next competition.
Every dancer goes into competition wanting to win. It takes good technique, interesting choreography and a performance quality that shines to get a high score. But what else do judges look for? How can you truly succeed in competition, not just against others but for yourself as well? Here, we share some secrets to competition success. Apply these tips, and you could turn yourself into a better competitor and all-together dancer. 

#1. Confidence is key.
You can make or break your success in just your attitude alone. Be confident – in your dancing, in your group or solo choreography, in all the hard work you’ve done leading up to competition. Judges will surely take notice. 

“Confidence is essential to success,” assures Tiana Juarez, judge and ballet instructor for Groove National Dance Competition, and author of The Pointe Shoe Manual. “When you walk on stage with your head held high and you have that attitude behind your moves no matter the tone of the choreography, it speaks volumes. Be proud of yourself and all your hard work. You have earned your spot on that stage, so let yourself shine!”

#2. Be well-rehearsed. 
There’s nothing worse than a sloppy dance; but there’s nothing better than a dance that hits its synchronized sections with total precision and in unison. A well-rehearsed, clean dance is impressive, and a well-rehearsed dancer is a confident one on stage. 

“You can tell a lot about a dancer or group of dancers by how clean their performance is,” points out Anthony Raimondi, a judge for Groove National Dance Competition and also a choreographer and performer. “For me, a well-rehearsed piece shows me how well a dancer or group of dancers can take direction from their choreographer, it shows how well they work together as a group, and it shows the overall dedication and work that was put into the piece. A well-rehearsed number shows us that you have taken the time to go over every detail, line and subtext to get your point or story across to an audience.” 

#3. Take care of your body. 
Your body is your instrument. Be sure to get enough sleep, stay hydrated and eat healthy meals to get the most out of your body. 

“Dancers who stay up all night will tire easily during the long competition days,” explains Jill Randolph-Lazzini, a judge and master teacher. “Not only does that show while they are performing, but that is also how injuries happen. The day of the competition, dancers need to warm up and stretch, just like they do for class. This will help prevent injuries, too.” 

#4. Transport the audience. 
During competition, don’t think of your judges as just “judges”; think of them as an audience. They’re there to not only score you but to also enjoy your performance and to be taken into another world with your dancing and story. 

“I feel like the best way to succeed at a competition is to make us feel like we are not at a competition,” Raimondi shares. “You want to try and make the four walls of the theater disappear for the amount of time you are on stage. Show us that you are seeing the environment you are dancing in so we can see it and join you there.” 

#5. Take class. 
If you consistently attend technique classes throughout the year, your body will be well-trained and prepared for the stage. Further, because your body will be so physically ready, your energy and focus can be directed more on the performance quality once you’re on stage. 

“You don’t want to be worrying about whether or not your foot is pointed or your knee is straightened while you are trying to tell your story,” Raimondi says. “The story, character and relationships should be the primary focus once you hit the stage.” 

In addition, consider taking classes in multiple dance styles. This versatility will make you an all-around stronger dancer and will show when you perform.  

#6. Pay attention to details and corrections. 
Apply teachers’ corrections in every class, pay attention to your choreographer’s notes for your routine during rehearsal, and try to recall judges’ marks from previous competitions. All of these are experienced people who can help you reach your highest potential. 

“If you listen to past competition judges’ critiques, you can learn a lot about what they see and how you can improve,” Juarez adds. 

#7. Be yourself. And have fun! 
“I would say the secret to competition success has to be to be yourself!” Juarez shares. “I love seeing personalities on stage and the thing that makes you you. Your energy is contagious. When you are enjoying yourself and loving it, so am I.” 

You obviously put in the many hours and hard work because you love to dance, so show that love as you perform, and don’t forget to have fun! 

“Relax!” encourages Randolph-Lazzini. “We, the judges, want you to do well. Being nervous makes the dancers perform differently. We are pulling for you. We get excited to see dancers love what they do at any age and any technical ability. We were there once, and we want to share our love and knowledge with you. Have fun!”