Illustration by Lealand Eve

Here's How to Resist Competition Rivalries

It's competition weekend, and you're beyond excited to perform with your studio—until you find out your biggest rival's going to be there, too. It's a nerve-racking, and common, experience. How can you make sure you have the best weekend possible even when facing off against your greatest opponent? Here's the lowdown on making every competition a positive experience.


Break the Ice

Talking to your rival might seem strange, or even scary, but Gary Pate, director of Starpower International Talent Competition, says it's something he always encourages at their events. "Make an effort to walk over and shake the hand of your competitor," he says. "If you take a chance and get to know your rivals, it might completely change the way you think of them. It's so important for dancers to take advantage of opportunities to branch outside the confines of their own studios."

Anne Forrest, director of Inspire School of Dance in Naperville, Illinois, also encourages students to reach out to rivals. "Be the first to go up to another competitor and say 'hello,' and the first to tell them 'good job' after a performance, too." She suggests trying to make one new friend this way every time you compete. Beginning a conversation will alleviate some of the tension between you and your rival.

Get Inspired

There's a big difference between rivals who watch each other and become jealous and those who watch to learn. According to Forrest, "If you choose to become inspired by your rival's talent, you have an opportunity to improve your own dancing." After all, competing would be boring if you didn't have any real competition. Observe talented rivals and see what you can learn from their gifts. "I always ask dancers to find the places where their fellow competitors excel," Forrest says. "Then, we talk about how those talents can be the motivation that pushes them to improve and be their very best."

Don't Hold the Applause

Make an effort to share encouragement with rivals before and after a performance. Witnessing moments of good sportsmanship backstage is something Pate loves. "I've seen students from one studio form a line to congratulate and cheer on dancers from another as they come off stage," he shares.

Brian Young, owner of Sweatshop Dance in Denver, Colorado, and his dancers have a unique way of offering congratulations to fellow competitors. "After the award ceremony, we don't keep any trophies or medals we receive. Instead, the dancers find someone from another studio who they believe deserves extra praise for their performance and offer the award to them," he says. "It might sound cheesy, but younger dancers especially get such a kick out of this, and it's a really great way to reach out, spread positivity and create unity among rival studios."

Turn to a Teacher

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, someone else will be determined to make a situation negative. Young says this is where teachers can step in. His studio has a "don't engage" policy when students are faced with negative competition interactions. "If a dancer is in a situation and feels she can't represent the studio well with words, I expect her to take herself out of the equation and come find me," he says. Forrest also encourages students to come to her if they can't handle a situation on their own. "If a rivalry becomes negative, pause before you respond," she says. "Unless you can think of a positive way to answer, just walk away and find your teacher."

The Bottom Line

It's difficult to have dance competitions without some rivalries, but it's possible for those rivalries to promote positivity rather than negativity. Respect those you're going up against—and don't forget that one competition weekend doesn't define who you are or how much talent you have

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search