By Allison Gupton of Dance Informa.
Do you ever wonder why certain studios do really well at competition consistently, year after year? Or wonder how your studio or dancer could improve? Or how to be the best dance mom you can be?
Look no further…there is a book for you!
“Dance Competitions: Are you Ready?” by Jill Ann Wolins is the perfect book for a studio or dancer that wants to begin competing, a studio or dancer wanting to know how to improve their competition skills, or a seasoned studio or dancer looking to refine their competition skills as a whole.
With sections such as, “What Judges Are Looking For”, “Choosing a Good Ballet Class”, and “Mental Preparation”, this book is a must-have for any competing studio or dancer.
One aspect that I appreciate about this book is that author Jill Ann Wolins does not sugar coat anything about competitions. They are so fun and exciting, but also extremely hard work – they take major preparation.
Wolins writes, “It is difficult to please everyone. The outcome at any competition is based only on the opinions of a panel of judges. Unless a dancer is only taking advantage of the facility and performance opportunity, the competitive dancer’s goal must be to please all judges, from all places, with all backgrounds.”
To me, this is a profound, yet simple statement. No one judge or competition can please every single studio or competitor. One dancer scores higher than another dancer–that is the way competitions go. In this book, I like how it teaches those dancers to be mentally, physically, and technically prepared and mature, instead of focusing on ‘beating’ a fellow competitor.
In the section titled, “Mental Preparation”, Wolins explains that being focused, or getting into ‘the zone’, is highly important when competing.
“As a dancer, you work too hard in rehearsals to be disappointed by a poor performance because of being distracted. Especially while waiting backstage, do not watch other dancers, or pay attention to teachers that are not a part of your studio. Focus on yourself and your choreography.”
Even for non-competing dancers, this is sound advice. As dancers, we have a job to do, and that is to perform to the best of our ability on stage for an audience (or judges), and stay focused. It’s just like any sport. The moment you become unfocused is the moment you could sustain injury.
My favorite chapter is titled, “Artistic Growth”. This is so important for me to teach my students. Focusing on artistic growth will not only bring to life dancers on stage and in the dance classroom, but also have great impact on our students’ lives at home or in their school classrooms.
Wolins puts it best, saying, “Sure, the technical possibilities are endless when young dancers are instructed well and challenged by teachers and choreographers. Amazing things also happen when dancers are challenged artistically.”
As a former Radio City Rockette and performer in the stage and film versions of The Producers, as well as national tours of Will Roger’s Follies, Grease, and Sweet Charity, Wolins has a wealth of experience which she brings to the dance competition scene as an esteemed judge, director and instructor in the Star Dance Alliance.
“Dance Competitions: Are You Ready?” is available on Amazon here: amazon.com.
Books are also available at any Star Dance Alliance Competition: Starpower, Nexstar, Revolution, Believe, and Imagine Dance Competitions.
Photo (top): The front and back cover of, “Dance Competitions: Are You Ready?”.