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Articles: How do Competitions impact concert dance

29 posts in this topic

Interesting article with a lot of positives that I have not really considered. Seems to really do YAGP right, and continue with your regular training, you might have to be homeschooled though. That's what is hard for me - to try to find the time for the coaching that is needed.

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I think if you want to do comps you really have to look at your school and their philosophy regarding the amount of control they insist on having over them. We just moved to a new school this year (relocation to a new area) and the difference in astounding. At the previous school she took privates to work on her variation and was allowed to buy whatever costume she wanted, the competition was five minutes away from her coach's daily place of employment so she came over after teaching a class to watch the girls and then back. At the new school we had to sign a contract with a large amount of fees and extra classes/rehearsals included. The studio owner was picky about costumes (I already had mine so she couldn't be that picky about ours) requiring girls to buy costumes that she thought were fancy enough. (When we move again, excessive director control is going to be on my list of things to look out for.)

 

It's probably costing us 1,000 more to do YAGP this year than last and that's not including the hotel stay that's required because we are further away from the hotel.

 

But even that is small pennies compared to some schools who do comps. I've seen plenty of kids at competitions that are very far away from their homes (kids flying to Paris semi finals. . . . . or even flying to Austin when they live in one of the other host cities) and then there are the convention and competition followers that go to multiple locations to increase their chance to win and to "be seen". These studios generally have kids wearing custom costumes that are studded with rhinestones and handmade and they're doing the maximum number of solos allowed along with several groups. The competition and costume fees alone . . . .

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This is interesting as I'm trying to sway my DD away from the competition world (not ballet -the other) because in my observations over the years, I see it as a money grabber and exhausting machine for families. HOWEVER, I do believe that the performance experience is valuable ... but the workshops just don't seem valuable at all to me. Perhaps it's her age and as she gets older it may be a better investment towards her training.

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I'm curious, tinydancer5678 why you don't think they seem valuable? Is it the content? The time? I am just curious.

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We do yagp and I see where tindancer is coming from. If you get an over zealous coach, then too much time is spent training a variation. . My husband likes to to say, "Remember you can train chimps to do a lot of stuff." The point is it can become a monster and what you see on stage is not what the true talent of the dancer.

 

You do get: experience performing, solo experience, nuances

You also get: exposure

 

I think that people are missing something that is really important with respect to ballet competitions.THEY ARE A TOOL to get a job or get training. You can do them strategically and drop in and out. You should think of it as AN INVESTMENT (and if there is no potential payoff--tangible or intangible-- you should rethink entirely). The Jazz comp world is an industry that can have these purposes but usually is a closed system that perpetuates itself-Instagram fame, bragging rights for 12 year olds, Feeling like a big deal). The % of kids who get jobs/training as a result of the Jazz comp vs the % of kids who get jobs/training as a result of a ballet comp is different.

 

So, the focus of competitions (World Ballet, ADC, IBC, Prix) is getting kids training and jobs. That's the reason. It's a big event. It's fun. It brings alot of talent. But it connects company and school directors with talent. They want to see talent and the dancers need to be seen. Larissa will tell you that. That's her mission and that's why it's a good thing. She's modeling on the IBC and some of the others without the class component.

 

But you don't need to be seen all the time, I don't think. In fact, sometimes you probably DON'T want to be seen. Maybe the kid is going through a growth spurt or transitioning to a new style of training. You might not be dancing at your best in certain phases of your life and really you don't want that to be out there.

 

In a tight job market it's one tool to help get kids jobs. And it's important. And I think that schools, especially those that are not company-affiliated should use it. They can also use other tools like calling an AD and saying, "Let this kid come to your company class." OR Helping a student develop an audition tape with an excellent variation. OR advising on an SI that would likely lead to an apprentice bid.

 

Also, you want to choose your comps just like you would an SI. Ask to whom will you be exposed if you go? Do you care? Do they have something to offer you? We were looking at one comp and really I wasn't impressed with who was judging or which company directors were there. It didn't matter to me if DD was exposed to those folks because they didn't match to any training that she really wanted.

 

(edited by moderator)

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Sorry b1 - I was referring to the jazz competition world - I am not familiar with the ballet comp. There are some positives about the jazz comp - opps to train with great teachers, stage performance opp, audition experience when there's a convention attached. However, the conventions (aka workshops) are so crowded and not valuable training - more like super difficult combos). And while I realize that this may help in future auditions down the road, even the teen parents and dancers don't seem to enjoy it and it costs a lot. It's more like a weekend of super exhaustion and then they have to perform group dances, solos, etc. I guess they have to cram it all in though because those weekends are all they have to work with time wise. But, it sounds like this is the way of the future whether it's jazz comp or ballet comp. Just seems like I see a lot of exhausted kids who get injured and never quite remember anything they learned because they're at conventions from early morning to afternoon with a quick break and then they are performing on stage all night.

 

Also, not only does my daughter take ballet and every other type of dance out there (because she loves it is why we try to support), she also adds on the tumbling skills because she wants to add them to her competition pieces. It's just too much - I don't know how much more some of these kids can physically take. I guess someday it may catch up.

 

But whether you go into ballet or not, I suppose this type of diverse dancing helps.

 

I'm curious how different is the ballet competition from jazz competition?

Edited by Tinydancer5678

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I attend both types of competitions. The ballet competitions are similar (in my opinion) in the fact that it is one dancer right after another, one group right after another. The atmosphere is different at both. There is a lot more noise at jazz/tap/musical theater comp vs ballet comp. But, I will say that even at the ballet competitions I've attended the audience etiquette was not like a ballet performance. There was a LOT of up and down by parents, teachers, even students in the audience.

 

The fees for the ballet competitions were comparable to the jazz/multi genre competition.

 

As an aside here....we also attend the jazz/multi genre workshops that have a competition associated with them. They are a high calibre, well run workshops. I am impressed with the level of dance taught. I am not impressed with how big the classes are. But, I give the teachers credit, they do focus on everyone in the room, including those on the edges.

 

I wish there was a ballet workshop weekend with high calibre teachers, with or without a competition. There aren't any to the best of my knowledge. My students would really enjoy it. When we went to YAGP, our students were surprised that there weren't more classes offered.

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I have always like the workshops. I like them better than the competitions. I think of them more as Master classes and Master classes can be quite crowded. The chance to take from a "famous" teacher is generally quite motivational to the kids. I (and my 3 dancers) have experience with both styles as well and I found, except for the audience attention, they are very similar. Both require you spending a good bit of money. Both award some type of award to it's top dancers, dancers from both sometimes end up as working professionals.

 

It is important that we don't hold YAGP any higher in it's charge than the other competitions for any reason other than it's ballet. Nor do we need to generalize jazz competition circuit dancers as if they are somehow less than YAGP entried. Many times, they are the same people with the same instruction. Our personal judgement of the environment is showing when we do.

 

We didn't spend alot when we took DD to YAGP, her teacher donated coaching and costumes for all her students she took. But with transportation, housing, etc we actually spent about the same amount we spend at younger DD's studios to go to jazz competitions. (for the year) Yes, you can find places that spend $250 on each jazz costume. But you can find people who spend $3000 on a tutu at a ballet competition when another dancer is in a $150 rented one. The graduates of DD2's jazz studio that focused on good instruction and competition can be found on Broadway in shows, at top colleges for jazz/modern dance, in performing ensembles, working on Cruise ships, as stage dancers for top recording artists. The jobs are different, the roads are really not that different. The real difference is in the focus of the instruction and each dancers choice for such. I've sat in the audience and wondered who in the world taught those dancers for both YAGP and jazz competitions (in good ways and in bad ways). I see a WHOLE lot of our ballet trained kids using SI's accpetances as their claim to fame it's just the ballet version of the jazz kids on Instagram. No different really.

 

I want us all to understand that we've sort of merged the original point of the conversation into a bit of putting down another form of dance's journey. Be careful. Many a dancer finds themselves making the switch to another style of dance by choice and sometimes not by choice. Ballet training will always be the best training a dancer can have. That is when it's good training. There is alot of bad ballet training out there. No different for jazz schools some are good and some are bad.

 

To get back to the original article, the differences are really not that different.

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I've never posted to these forums before but this thread struck close to my heart. And, I loved the article! We have a ten year old son who does both the jazz/tap/hip-hop competition circuit and is also being trained for YAGP. This is his third year doing "non-ballet" competitions and I couldn't imagine him anywhere else. I compare it to my daughter's competitive soccer team. She plays 7-8 tournaments each year as well as in two year-round leagues. She'd walk through a wall for her teammates and the lessons she's learned from being on a competitive team are invaluable. I see the same lessons being learned by our son on his dance teams. They view everyone as "teammates" and are wholeheartedly supportive of one another (I know this isn't always the case, but it isn't in life either). Plus, they have to learn to work together and support one another when the inevitable mistakes happen. We saw this first-hand when my son was at nationals this summer. He made a fairly obvious mistake and the natural reaction from his teammates would have been to express frustration with him because he "messed up" the routine. Not one dancer said a thing other than to make sure he was physically (and emotionally) ok. So, ball sports have their tournaments. Dance has competitions.

 

I've seen several posts from people claiming that "dance is an art, not a competition!!" But, when you are given only one or two opportunities each year to showcase your "art," that doesn't work too well for kids who love performing.

 

And, our son needs to be on stage. As much as possible. The competitions provide those opportunities. He also takes ballet at a fairly well-regarded studio and is doing private training for his first YAGP. But, he isn't sure classical ballet is the route he wants to go. So, we keep the doors open to as many genres and as many opportunities to dance as we can. Is it expensive? Yes, but so is year-round competitive soccer. And with dance competitions, you don't get rained on while watching!

 

Most important, both of my kids are happy with their chosen paths and the lessons they are learning will serve them so well no matter what they do as adults.

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b1, you might want to look into Regional Dance America, which is a Ballet Festival (not competition), and has a 3 - 5 days worth of classes + performances.

 

As for the article, I have worked one of the dancers in one of the photographs, and am good friends with the owner of that studio. This studio owner believes highly in the value of competitions, regardless of the genre, in the sense that it gives dancers something to strive for. It is unimportant to the owner if the dancers "win." The idea is that the dancers don't just come into the studio day in and day out working for nothing.... Having the milestone of a performance/competition lights a fire under the bums of the dancers, improvements tend to happen at a faster pace, and when the dancer does poorly at a competition that dancer comes back to the studio even more focused than before.

 

I agree with Momof3, I think we should also be cautious saying that one style of genre competition is better than another. This same studio owner has had multiple dancers attend highly regarded ballet summer intensives and those same dancers have received multiple dance scholarships for their colleges. The dancers have also used their passion for dance, and their experience in competitions, so write wonderful college applications.... Dancers from this studio are attending colleges like: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, & MIT.

 

I am personally not a fan of competitions of any kind - I don't think *I* would have done well as a dancer in the environment. That said, they are around because people go to them.

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My son did competitions (mainstream jazz comps, DMA, and YAGP) from age 10-14. He attended a clasical ballet school (RAD syllabus, mostly ballet classes with only a little bit of jazz, tap, and contemporary to supplement the ballet). But, the AD of the school believed these comps were useful in creating a well-rounded dancer.

 

He and I were extremely glad when he stopped doing the comps at age 15, and he doesn't miss them at all. Still, he definitely benefited from his experiences there. He and his dance mates learned how to...

 

-- be confident on stage and really work the judges/audience

-- work hard and master a difficult skill by a certain deadline

-- handle the stress of competitions and not let it psyche them out

-- take "defeat" gracefully

-- how to be noticed by the teacher despite being in a convention class filled with 200+ kids.

 

Perhaps most of all, during one of his years doing YAGP, he acquired a mentor whose help and input in his ballet journey has been immeasurable.

 

We don't have very much money, so he very rarely competed solos-- just group ensembles that were rehearsed during his student company classes/rehearsals as opposed to being privately coached. Still, the benefits of even just group ensembles was important to him.

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My experience with jazz comps comes from having done at least 30.

 

My dd takes classes, jazz classes even at a comp studio. We just don't compete.

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No one is negating your experience learningdance. I personally feel we have a writing style issue here rather than a disagreement about the issue.

 

One can say: My belief is the focus of ballet competitions is jobs and training. Or one can say "The focus of ballet competitions is training and jobs." The former would have shown that this was your belief right or wrong. The latter sounds more like a fact shared.

 

One can say: "The jazz comp world is an industry that can have these purposes but is a closed system that perpetuates itself-Instagram fame, bragging rights for 12 year olds...." Stated in a style that makes it sound more like fact than perception. Or one can say: In my opinion, the competition world creates a bunch of self-imposed brats and I don't feel I see as much of that in ballet. One sounds more like a fact shared than an opinion/experience. The other shows that this is how you feel about the competition world and not that you are stating a proven fact about all of the competition world.

 

One can say: "The percentage of kids who get jobs/training as a result of the Jazz competition vs. the % of kids who get jobs/training as a result of ballet comp is different." Again, stated as fact rather than with opinion or experience. The former is again a statement to take issue with. While if you had stated "In my experience.....", what might have been surmissed was that in your location, competition schools are not producing working dancers while in another location it very much is.

 

Hope that clears up any misconception about the lack of any attempt to discount your experiences. That still leaves open a discussion about those stated "facts" though.

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Got.. . .point taken. I understand. . . .

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