Q: I have a small group of part-time dancers who want to compete their routines for the first time. I'm thinking of taking them to a regional dance convention. Do you have any advice?
A: Attending a regional convention is a great idea. Taking classes with other like-minded dancers in a supportive learning environment with inspiring faculty is always a good thing. I've always found that exposing students to new choreographers helps them grow as dancers.
I would, however, advise you to compete only one or two routines. If your dancers are part-time, they might be overwhelmed by taking five or six classes in a row at the convention during the day and then competing multiple routines during the evening competition portion. Remember, you'll be up against studios and dancers who have been to many more conventions and competitions than your dancers. You want this to be a positive experience, so put the emphasis on taking class and learning—not on competing. Use the competition to get helpful feedback from the judges. The weekend can be a great way to introduce your dancers to the convention and competition scene, and they'll look forward to doing more.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.