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A Checklist: Preparing for a Fred Astaire Dance Studios’ National Dance Competition


Knighttime -

KNIGHTtime by Stephen Knight, FADS Vice President and Executive Dance Director


Today, I’m in “competition mode” preparing for an upcoming FADS National Dance Competition, so I thought I’d share some of the things you can do as dance students, to ensure that you have the best “comp” experience ever! When prepping to compete in a National, the goal is to be comfortable and confident on a consistent basis. There are several “musts” that can help you reach that goal:

  1. Get information. Get lots of information from your dance instructor about expectations for the competition. The more information you have before the event, the more it will be memorable and enjoyable.
  2. Have fun! Your primary goals are to dance the best you can, and not to measure your success only by winning. This is a point that your instructors will drive home, that it’s not about the placements, but more about how you feel when you perform. Many students want to please their instructors and feel if they don’t win, that they’ve let them down. Your instructor’s goal is for you to enjoy the entire experience, not just to win.
  3. Know what to pack. Talk to your instructor about what you will need to pack for the week. Competition wear is a given, but also remember attire for the Nightclub Division & Party, the final night’s Gala, and more casual clothes for spectating in the ballroom and exploring the local area.
  4. Know the schedule. Review this information in advance so you know when you must be in the Ballroom.
  5. Stretch and practice! Warm-ups are so important, and that can be anything from rehearsing your material with your dance partner, or warming up alone before your heats.
  6. Focus is key. With a National competition coming up in several weeks, you & your dance instructor should not be working on new material at this stage. Instead, concentrate on your routine, to feel comfortable with it.
  7. Rehearse full out! At this point, your instructor will be dancing with you “full out”, so you are comfortable with the level of energy that will be required at the competition.
  8. Dance it ALL. When rehearsing your open routines, showcases, solos, and novelties – be sure to dance all the material… including the lifts and tricks.
  9. Down time. Talk with your Instructor in advance about when they will (and won’t) be with you during the event. In addition to performing and spending time with you, your Instructor may also be competing during the event’s Pro divisions, attending meetings, and recording videos for training & promotional use. And remember, they need downtime, too!
  10. Quality, not quantity. Remember, when it comes to your closed divisions it’s not about the number of steps you do, but about the quality of your dancing. The judges have no idea how many steps you dance (nor do they care); they are looking for quality, and not quantity.

At Fred Astaire Dance Studios, our number one goal is to provide the highest level of service and the best product in the industry. Our commitment to their priorities will help you stay engaged as a student, and continue to enjoy our National events as your dance journey progresses. Keep On Dancing!

Stephen Knight is Vice President & Executive Dance Director with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. He also serves as Dance Coach and Regional Franchise Director for the FADS Wisconsin Region. A National Champion during his competitive years, Stephen is most well-known for his choreography, and for creating a large portion of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios Silver Syllabus. For more information on the members of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios International Dance Council, contact us. And to get started on YOUR dance journey, contact Fred Astaire Dance Studios today.