‘Tis the Competition, Convention and Audition Season!

For many dancers, the New Year means heading right into an intense season of dance competitions, conventions and auditions. Many are preparing anxiously with extra long rehearsals, new choreography, technique training, costumes, hair pieces, travel plans etc…  Here are some helpful tips and reminders as you head into your busy season!

Top Ten Tips for Success in your Dance Competition, Convention and Auditions this Season:

1.  Never Be Late.  
Lateness is never accepted to classes, to auditions, to workshops, to warm-ups, to panel talks etc… Just be on time! Plan out your breaks, your trips to the bathrooms and know your schedule. Parents make sure to teach your child about the importance of planning ahead and tardiness. It’s a great life lesson.

2. Be Prepared.

Know what classes you are taking and plan ahead.  Bring all the shoes, socks, accessories, band-aids, hair supplies etc that you will need.  Yes, it is frowned upon when you take tap class without any tap shoes, or ballet class without ballet shoes. It is a sign of respect to the teacher and to the discipline of dance to have the correct attire and supplies.  Hint,  you should always take time to put your hair up for ballet.  Be aware that there are many Modern teachers who frown upon any shoes at all, even foot paws etc…  It is best to pay attention at the beginning of class, watch their assistants or just go bare foot and keep your paws stuffed in your clothing somewhere.  Also be prepared that Hip Hop teachers require actual hard soled shoes for Hip Hop, and most dancers will transform themselves with entire outfit changes for class.

3. Listen.
Take the time to stop and just listen.  Listen to the instructions and where the instructor places their emphasis.  If they share that they want you to place extra emphasis on the 8th count of each phrase and the arms should be in second, then it is your job to make sure that happens.  We often get in the habit of watching, while forgetting to listen too.  This is often caused by nerves so just remember to take a deep breath and listen. The details count, especially for the choreographer who worked hard on making those details perfect.

4. Body Language counts! 
Remember that how you present yourself says a tremendous amount about you.  Your teacher is very aware of everyone’s body language and expression in his/her classes.  It is important to pay attention to how you take class. Look focused, smile back at them, respond if they ask a question, have good posture and be engaged in the classroom.  Never roll your eyes, place your hands on your hips, look annoyed, go to your cell phone or react with talking or deep sighs to a phrase or combination that is being taught.

5. Facial Expression counts too!
Your face tells your teacher everything they need to know.  They are looking for focused, positive and hard working dancers.  Make sure that is what you are communicating on your face.  I am often amazed at how many dancers looked bored or scared to death  and then wondered why the teacher didn’t notice them. You have to shine positive energy!

6. Talking.
Just don’t do it ever.

7. Don’t hide.
It’s important to stand in the front or close to the front of the classroom.  Try to get to class early and grab a spot in the front of the room.

8. Take and Apply Corrections.
This is a big mistake that many dancers make.  If the teacher has a correction for you, that means that they were a. watching you and b. saw enough potential in you to take their time to share a correction.  The best response is “thank you” and then it is essential to make that change.  I am often floored at the amount of blank stares and “you couldn’t possible be talking to me looks” that I get from students when I address them with a correction.  It is an essential part of being a dancer that you recognize that there is always room for improvement and it is a constant process of work on your craft.  Be respectful and work hard!

9. Say “Thank You.”
Always say “Thank You” to the teacher after class.

10. Be Distinctive.
Be yourself, be unique, stand out in the crowd and own your talent!  This can be hard when we are trained in our early years to dance in groups, all be identical and not stand out from the group.  At Conventions, Workshop classes and Auditions the opposite is true.  So many dancers make the mistake of dressing just like their friends or all wearing their favorite shirt.  How are they going to find you in the crowd when you look like everyone else?  Your uniqueness is vital to helping you stand out in a sea of hundreds of dancers.  Own it.

Now that I have you thinking. A quick word from Mia Michaels:

“It’s not about tricks at all. In fact I don’t want to see tricks at all…

What is so important is about the vulnerability that you have to allow yourself to have.

Everybody moves differently. If you are a B-boy or if you are a–whatever you are, whatever style it is that you love to do, if that represents who you are, you bring that into this space, under this music. You find a way to phrase it, make it yours.

I want to see you. You are more interesting to me than doing a trick. What I find more interesting is seeing the individual come out, the uniqueness of each individual come out, and how you move.

You are the only one of you. From the beginning of time till the end of this world to the end of eternity. There’s only one of you ever created. Ev-er. You are the only you. That’s pretty powerful.

So why on earth would you want to look like anybody else, dress like anyone else, dance like anyone else, be someone else, when you are a legend in your own right?”

-Mia Michaels

If you have a few goosebumps, click here to watch Mia share this speech in person with her convention students.
Refer back to this, as it is an important message to carry with you in your dance journey.

Click here to watch a very helpful video interview geared at auditioning tips.

Wishing everyone Happy New Year! Best wishes for a fantastic 2012!


Lets further the art of dance together… ASK MS. SONYA, I want to help!


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