Not many people start out Ballroom Dancing because they want to be competitive dancers. Most people start out seeing someone having a blast on the dance floor and begin to get inspired to learn themselves. Most folks want to learn to look comfortable and confident and simply, not make fools of themselves. So then what is all the hype about competitions? I’m betting when you started dancing you told yourself that you would never compete. You saw that Silver level student and said to yourself, “that could never be me she’s so …graceful, he’s so …confident.” I’m also betting that you decided around that same time that you really liked your dance instructor and trusted them enough to lead you on the journey of learning to ballroom dance. So why won’t they let this competing thing go already! Well, it’s because your dance teacher knows a secret! It’s a really good secret, you can think of it as the key to unlocking your dance potential. The holy grail of dancing! How many times have you wished for the secret to learning to dance? Your teacher knows that competition is the secret ingredient to comfortable and confident dancing. It’s also going to speed up the process to warp speed. So let’s talk about what competing in Ballroom Dance can do even for YOU!
- Setting a goal: BOOM! And you thought I was going to say sparkly dresses and eye lashes first. Goal setting is an important way of deciding what you want to achieve in your life. Separating what’s important from what’s irrelevant or distraction. It’s a tool for motivation. Now, setting a goal of competition is very different than a goal of making it to group class on Thursday night if the babysitter doesn’t cancel. If you commit to the process, you WILL make it a priority, you will practice, you will try harder. When you have a deadline you will always push yourself more. Even if only to make the deadline, you’re working harder and practicing your dancing will improve.
- Being in it to win it: Once you’ve set a goal and have your deadline, you will start to eat, sleep and breathe dancing. I call this being in it to win it. There is no wasted time because you’re counting choreography in your sleep, you’re dancing down the aisle of the grocery store. The law of attraction is keeping your focus on something to bring more of it into your life. When you’re focused on your dancing, when you’re obsessive about it you will start to have AHA! moments all over the place. You will start to improve your dancing simply for the amount of mental effort you’re putting into it. When you want something (to be a better dancer) and you immerse yourself in it you will start to see progress.
- Getting into shape: Getting into shape looks good on everybody. I’m not suggesting having unreal expectations for your figure in the next 3 months. However, when you start a new activity your body will respond by building new muscle, increasing your stamina, even dropping a couple pounds. If you happen to have some additional fitness goals the deadline of the competition will become a date to work toward. Dancing has been shown to improve mental clarity and even ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The health benefits of ballroom dancing alone are life changing.
- Better Social Dancing: We’re all here to become better social dancers first. Remember the first Practice Party you attended? Do you remember how nerve wracking it was to be practicing your dancing on the same floor as the more advanced students? Whenever we push past our comfort zone in to unfamiliar territory we grow as people. The first Showdance, or Teammatch even the first time your teacher asks you to demonstrate a step in front of another student or teacher. These are all growing experiences that are necessary to building confidence.
- Increased Confidence: A great guy I know named Clay Staires has a fantastic analogy about growth. About how uncomfortable growth can be, but how once we’re thru the fire we find ourselves in a new version of normal. This new version includes new skills and a new outlook on what is possible. That first competition is one of the most stressful, nerve wracking, uncomfortable experiences a person can go through. Because of this it is also one of the most productive for growth. I always say a student can learn more by going to competition than coming in for 10 lessons in a row for a month. After being on a floor with 12 other couples, and hundreds more watching, judges, and costumes, and loud cheering the Practice Party is going to look like a piece of cake.
- It’s FUN!: When you’re done feeling like your teacher set you on fire and sent you out onto the floor. You’ll start to have some fun. The first few dances will warm up your muscles and you’ll start to remember where you are and why you came. Then competition starts to become the most exhilarating experience you’ll ever have. You’ll hear your studio cheering for you, you’ll start to feel at home in the costume your teacher out you in. You’ll start to understand what a heat is and when you’re supposed to be dancing. Once you get to the part of having fun you’ll start to see what all the hype was about. Competition is an exciting experience that helps you toward your goals of becoming a more comfortable and confident social dancer.