This past weekend our company dancers competed in their first competition of the season in Lago Vista. I was really impressed with all of the dances. The students have been working hard in their dance classes to polish their competition dances, and they look great! We are excited for our competition season. If you had the chance to attend this past weekend’s competition, I’m sure you were equally as impressed with the dances, but you might have missed a few things.
As the director and an instructor, a few things that you might not have seen caught my eye. It’s these moments that give me the passion for what I do. They reestablish the love I’ve always had for dance. They remind me why I’m so lucky to do what I do. You might be thinking it has something to do with technical skill- maybe that perfect double or triple pirouette. Sure I appreciate a beautifully-executed pirouette as much as any dance instructor, but what I appreciate more are those moments that I see perseverance, joy, teamwork, confidence, and beauty.
After competition, I asked the dancers to tell me their favorite part of competition. The majority of the dancers told me their favorite part was waiting backstage and hanging out with their friends. The students create a special bond with their dance friends. One of our dancers who had an injury came to support her teammates even though she was probably heart broken that she wasn’t able to dance. If you were to peek backstage during the solo portion of competition, you might see the dancers encouraging and congratulating one another more than worrying about their own dance. Seeing them grow as dancers is beautiful, but I also love seeing them grow as friends.
You might have seen some dances with beautiful lifts. What you didn’t know is that in one of those dances, the girls never got the lift in class perfectly, yet they got it on stage. They committed to making it work, and it did! Unfortunately, as part of dance, we sometimes slip and fall. This happened to one of our soloists, but after taking some time, she went back out on that stage and performed her solo. It already takes a lot of guts to dance a solo on stage, but to get back up and do it after a fall is downright brave. It is a beautiful example of perseverance.
As dance teachers, we tell our dancers to dance with passion or feel the music or express emotion. We say it in every way we possibly can. We try to show it. We try to teach it. But it is one of the hardest parts to teach about dance because it has to be felt genuinely. So just about when we think they aren’t getting it, the stage lights come on, they step onto that stage, the audience cheers them on, and it happens! We see the spark of confidence enter their eyes or maybe we see a new strut of confidence we haven’t seen before. Sometimes we see it in the way they extend their arms in a lyrical dance that shows us they are connecting with the music and the audience. And that moment as a dance teacher is indescribable.
As we continue on in our competition season, I invite all the parents to look around and see all those moments because they are just as beautiful as the dances.
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