A: Toward the end of every summer, my staff and I pull out all the competition and convention mail-outs that we have received. We decide what weekends we want to set aside for competitions in the upcoming year and shortlist any events within a one-and-a-half-hour drive from the studio, keeping in mind what we liked and didn’t like about the competitions we attended last season. Once we’ve determined which ones meet our initial stipulations, we contact each competition director to ask about venues, judges, fees and which other studios have expressed interest in attending.
Usually, our team participates in four to five competitions per season, as well as two to three conventions. (We attend one convention as a team, and the other two are optional.) There are two competitions our team always takes part in, year after year, because they’re well-run: They always have good judges and strong dancers. Adding a couple of new comps helps to keep things interesting—you get to compete against studios you might not normally see. Talk to other studio owners for recommendations, and always investigate a competition before you make the commitment to attend. Attending an event you haven’t checked out is a recipe for disaster.
Competitions and conventions are great learning opportunities, but they require a lot of time and financial investment. Ask plenty of questions, read the comp’s rules and understand its scoring, placement and awards, because you can be sure that when your parents have a question, they’ll come straight to you for the answers.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.