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Are Dance Competitions Worth It? Three Questions to Ask Yourself

Are Dance Competitions Worth It? Three Questions to Ask Yourself

There’s plenty to consider when asking the question “Are dance competitions worth it?” for your studio—-the endless hours of preparation, the cost to attend and the time it takes to travel. And yet the results for your students can far outweigh the headaches if competition opportunities are an important part of your studio goals.

If you already participate in competitions, then you know how much work the dancers put into learning and practicing their routines, and how much money their parents invest in their classes and rehearsals. You also know the stress that can come if you are unprepared for an event, if your expectations were off, or if the competition doesn’t feel like a good fit. Then there’s that amazing feeling of watching your students onstage and earning well-deserved recognition for their hard work. Indeed, competing can be a roller coaster!

So how do you really know if that roller coaster is a worthwhile ride for your studio?

Keep reading to learn the three questions you should consider when asking yourself, “Are dance competitions worth it?”

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Are you up for competition? Here are three questions to ask yourself when deciding if competitions are worth it for your studio:

  1. What outcomes will my students and their parents desire from competition opportunities?
    Whether your studio is new or has been established for decades, it’s important to check in with your students and their families about their reasons for participating in dance competitions. What are the benefits they hope these opportunities will provide? Are they looking strictly for an extra chance to perform, or are they also interested in convention classes or scholarship opportunities? Do those expectations align with yours? If your customers are wholly invested in having their dancers involved in competitions for reasons that align with yours, then you know it will be worth it to make your competition program as organized and strong as possible. Successful competition programs start with studio support.
  1. How will I find competitions that fit my studio’s mission and values?  
    With so many competitions to choose from, it can be tricky to narrow down which ones are a good match for your studio. Researching competitions online is a good start, but word of mouth from people you trust is even better. Ask your studio owner friends and dance teacher friends what their students’ experiences have been like at different competitions. If you know anyone who judges for competitions, talk to them as well.  What do they like about a certain competition’s voice in the industry? Do the days run in an organized fashion? Are the policies and rules enforced? Do they receive positive feedback from dance studios? Do they run short weekends or run into school days? Are awards are reasonable hours or at all hours of the night? Use these answers to help you understand a competition’s business ethics and behaviors. Competitions that line up with your values and expectations are going to be the most worthwhile for you, your dancers, and their parents.
  2. If we don’t compete, what will we do instead?
    While competitions have become the norm for many dance studios, some schools do choose to be non-competitive instead. Their customers may not be interested in the time, travel, and cost of competitions, or they may prefer the comparative simplicity of community performances. Whatever the reason, non-competitive groups can still reap the benefits of performing in other ways: community performances might include local festivals, parades, or fairs. Some non-competitive studios choose to produce their own concerts in addition to the recital, and others elect to take on annual or biannual travels to non-competitive performances, such as with Disney’s Youth Performing Arts programs.

Competitions are indeed worth it for many studios, and your definition of a successful program is at the heart of your decision to compete or not. Understanding your studio families and shopping around for the right events are key components to that definition, and to making sure the competition experience is advantageous for all involved. And if competitions aren’t really your thing, that’s fine too! Performance opportunities abound in other ways; it’s all about discovering what’s valuable to your dance families and fits your studio’s culture.

Tell us in the comments about what makes competitions worth it to you, or in what ways you prefer for your dancers to perform outside of competitions. I invite you to connect with me on social media @mistylown to share your thoughts on competitions and what works best for your studio. In whichever ways your dancers perform, I wish you a successful spring season ahead!

Looking for more great info on dance competitions? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing