Why A Dance Competition Is So Appealing

Most people don’t step into our studio with a desire to perform in a dance competition. And yet, so many students take their first lesson, and then their second, and before I know it, they’re asking about competitions.

Why would someone do a dance competition?

Most people start ballroom lessons because they want to be comfortable social dancers, perhaps at an upcoming event or maybe they just want to have a new activity. Most people can’t imagine what a competition is like and how much fun it is.

So let me paint that picture for you.

When we go to competitions, we travel as a group. Lada and I, the teachers who have been working with the competing students, and the students who are competing.

We are like an entourage! We take with us all the accoutrements needed to perform: beautiful dazzling gowns, dance shoes, fun shirts and sleek pants for the men.

The energy level at a dance competition is incredible. It’s palpable, like there’s a buzz in the air that is vibrating all around you.

Once somebody attends a competition, they realize all the benefits. We use competitions to help our students advance by setting a goal and dancing toward it.

When you set a goal, it pushes you to be a better dancer. More focused. With your eyes on an outcome, you put more focused effort into the steps and the choreography and the coordination and the result is impressive.

Our students and teachers work really hard to get ready for a competition. It’s just like doing a recital or a showcase, where the dancers push themselves to be their best.

That in itself is a goal that helps push us further, like any competitive situation.

At Fred Astaire, we never push the competition idea to our students. We want our students to find joy in dancing, in whatever ways they can.

And when a student says he or she wants to compete, we don’t focus on winning that coveted first place. It really doesn’t matter to us. It’s about dancing the best you’ve ever danced, plain and simple.

The prize isn’t the emphasis. Competition is good because it gives a goal to work harder and become better. Everyone needs a goal, in so many realms of our lives.

But I will say, competitions, they are, almost indescribable.

Donald Westphal and Nedda Shatoya dance the foxtrot to Paul Anka's song "Its My Life". December 02, 2011. (Photo by Ricardo Thomas/The Detroit News)
Donald Westphal and Nedda Shatoya dance the foxtrot to Paul Anka’s song “Its My Life”. December 02, 2011. (Photo by Ricardo Thomas/The Detroit News)

It’s mesmerizing to see these amazing gowns lit up with so many Swarovski stones, to watch the movement and color and beauty and grace of gliding across the dance floor in a way that looks effortless, the judges standing there, pen and paper scoring you, the music playing loud and continuous, and other people dancing all around you, all day long.

It’s pretty intense. It’s fun and the energy level is contagious. Once our students go to a competition, they want to go to another.