Competition. Competition for our youth has become such a complicated ideology. Our kids today compete in and for everything. They compete for grades in school. They compete for spots on the soccer team, hockey team, gymnastics team, probably even Russian math team. Sometimes they even compete for friends and to be in the “popular group” at school. Most of this competition is unavoidable and simply just a part of life. In my opinion, however, competition in a Dance School setting is completely avoidable and should be avoided at all costs.
As the parent of a 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son, and as the owner of All That Jazz Dance Studio in Newton, I feel like I have a unique perspective on the role competition plays in our children’s daily lives. I feel very strongly that on the soccer field for instance, they should allow the teams to have winners and losers each week. The kids know which team scored the most amount of goals each game, so why not just call a spade and spade and announce the winner and loser of each game?
But, dance is different. How do you really judge what is so clearly a subjective art form. And, honestly, why would you want to judge it in the first place? Dance competitions have become quite the rage in recent years. I believe this is largely due to the extremely popular TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” and equally popular but extraordinarily disturbing show “Dance Moms.” Impressionable children watch these shows and then dream of being the next big WINNER or “IT CHILD.”
As adults, we know that reality TV is not reality. But, our kids don’t understand that concept yet. And, for every winner of SYTYCD and Maddie Ziegler (child star of Dance Moms), there are thousands of other kids who are either losing at these competitions or who are getting the “thanks for showing up and trying” medal.
My philosophy at All That Jazz has always been that competition just doesn’t belong in the dance world. It’s not that my students aren’t excellent dancers or have inferior choreography. Quite the contrary actually! Our students are amazing dancers and could “win” (I’m told) at various dance competitions. But, I would rather let the winners and losers remain on the soccer fields. Instead, let the dancers walk out of all of their dance classes with their heads held high and their confidence fully intact.