What Dance Competitions Really Mean To Dancers

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What Dance Competitions Really Mean To Dancers

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The season is off and running for many teams in the dance community. People are training, groups are building and/or rebuilding. Everyone is preparing to produce the latest chapter in the sagas of their teams. With the buzz and excitement of auditions over, it’s also a time when we all start feeling our first challenges. The struggles around us begin to take form, and start becoming threats that could eventually take us down, yet somehow, we push through, towards our final destination. And that destination, is the dance competition. (Or at least it is in this article.)

The dance competition is the thing that gave life to this community. It has come in many different forms, and each one has made its own stamp in history, and that’s what this story is about. The place and performance we all spend so much time, blood, sweat, and tears preparing for - the dance competition: why we love it, why we do it, the struggles we face, and what it’s really about.

Why It Sucks Sometimes

Actually, sometimes it’s hard to remember why dancers love performing at competitions so much. Most of the time, it’s pretty much a losing, uphill battle. Anybody who has a passion for anything has had to juggle that passion with friends, family, school, work, and money. So basically you gotta juggle it with your LIFE. And keep in mind, many of us have people around us that aren’t so supportive of us off “galavanting at night” when we’re really at rehearsals. (If you’re Filipino, that’s what your parents think you’re out doing.)

So on top of balancing dancing with life, nobody likes us, and we’re apparently people that galavant. And then there’s that ugly thing many dancers refer to as CASTING. If your dance team was a boat, and the competition was your destination, casting would be all the icebergs out in the ocean that threaten to sink you. Some people get saved, some get injured, and usually, pretty much nobody’s happy, not even those with the best seats on the life raft. Oh, and let’s not forget the actual competition day. I don’t know about you, but competition day for us is pretty stressful.

Everyone’s nervous about the big day, worried we’re gonna mess up on some important part. We worry about whether that big risk we’re taking on a set is going to pay off. We wonder if the themes we chose will resonate or fall flat and be basic (and ain’t nobody wanna be basic). On top of everything else, we're TIRED. These are just things that dancers go through. Those who’ve decided stand up and produce these events have their fair share of struggles, too.

Can we navigate the up’s and down’s of the dance community? Are we doing everything we can to please EVERYONE in the building? Can we show people that it’s not about making money, that it really is for the audience and the dancers? Is this thing we all created, this place that all of us dancers crafted together, still important to the world, or this year the year that the dream dies?

But We Keep On Going

What we all forget from time to time is this thing we do, and the love we have for it, is what gives life MEANING. It’s the thing that helps us face the stresses that come with that “friends/family/school/work/money” thing. It’s what reminds us that casting is really about surviving a hit, and becoming stronger because of it. It’s what reminds us that the nervous feeling we have about the big day is WORTH IT.

And when we get up on that stage, and our theme is received with love and applause from the audience, it’s what reminds us that our nervousness was really just EXCITEMENT. (And if our routine really was basic, screw everybody ‘cuz it’s ours and we love it anyway.)It reminds us all that we’re connected. I know you all feel it. Although some know this more than others, we’re all connected: through house parties, someone's dance project, that team’s performance we’re all watching, and this other guy’s choreography that we all love and try not to copy.

These competitions can really serve as a metaphor for life. We learn things that help us in every other aspect of our lives. We make mistakes here, take chances there. We face things that scare us, and we learn to have courage. We fall, and we get back up again. For many, the dance competition is the thing that takes us from who we are in the real world, and brings us closer to the person we want to be. It’s our bridge. (Yes, that was a shameless plug, but it worked pretty well there, right?)

And if we’re ever worried the dream will end, or if it’ll all go away tonight, we’re reminded by every team that ever bombed the year before and then came back next year to win it, that this place isn’t about death, it’s about resurrection, because dreams don’t die here, they’re born.

The Tales You’ll Tell When You Get There

This year’s Bridge starts the season off for many teams in the community, and it has many of TM’s alumni nostalgic over memories of competitions past. The 1st Vibe. Free pizza at Fusion. The origins of Body Rock and Bustagroove. Prelude, WOD, and the rise of the Juniors/youth circuit. Going to Vegas for HHI. It’s all got us feeling some type of way. (The good kind, not the bad kind.)

You’ll be seeing some pleasant changes at our show, too. A change of venue, and some new features that we hope will give everyone new experiences. Just our way of recommitting ourselves to the cause, so we can all build new stories.The Bridge Dance Competition would love to hear your thoughts about competitions and their impact. What memories do you have to share? :) Anyone in the dance community that dances competitively can relate pretty well to this article - but competitions aside, there's a reason why we're all addicted to performing - find out why that is here!