With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:
Get organized—ahead of time.
Know where you and your students need to be, and when, well before you walk through the doors of a competition or convention. Being organized will help remove some of the (unnecessary) stress from the day or weekend.
Choose a competition or convention that puts its best organizational foot forward, too, suggests Burns. "You'll walk into Turn It Up knowing that you are on at 3:52 pm—we've scheduled you there, and that's where you'll be," says Burns. "We don't run behind, and we don't run ahead."
Customer service should be tops, too. "We really do call our studios our guests—you'll meet our show director right away, and that person has taken the time to learn about your studio," she says. "We know about you before you even walk in!"
Don't skip the convention.
"Convention is active training that you don't get from your studio," says Alex Wong, a master teacher at Turn It Up. "You get to actively learn new styles and new things that are unfamiliar to your body. It's one of the best learning experiences you can get."
With Turn It Up, one-day conventions are held in the earlier part of the season, and competition happens later on. "It works alongside the studio schedule," explains Burns, "so that conventions happen when everybody's still preparing their material for the competition season. We thought it would be great for teachers to have one-day conventions that prep dancers for competition and as better overall dancers."
Courtesy Turn It Up
Don't focus on winning.
Instead, focus on improving. "Sometimes," says Turn It Up master teacher Maud Arnold, "the idea of winning becomes so overpowering that dancers aren't even thinking about improving." But in the real world of dance, she says, there are no "wins." "There's work, and the reality is, the work doesn't stop," says Arnold. "Winning feels nice, but it's also important to learn how to lose. If you don't know how to lose, you're going to be a failure at life." To help students focus on growth instead of solely on winning, Turn It Up emphasizes thoughtful, constructive feedback from judges rather than a numerical score.
Turn It Up also gives students the opportunity to receive feedback before they even arrive at the competition through their new program, Turn It Up a Notch. "When you go to big conventions, you don't get one-on-one time with teachers," says Burns. "Now you can sign up for 15-minute slots with our master teachers and bring your routines that are in the works for the spring competition season." She emphasizes that they're not looking to give feedback on polished routines. "We're looking for raw routines," she says, so you can take the judges' feedback home with you.