I’d like to write a short post based on a comment by Nichelle Strzepek at http://danceadvantage.net. She read my last post on making boys dance slowly to learn the basics, and said the following:
“I have found it particularly difficult to impress the importance of learning to do things correctly with competitive dancers (again, my experience in this realm has been at recreational schools that compete). It seems for these students the eye is too often on the prize and not the work it takes to get there. I also think we live in an instant gratification culture and it becomes increasingly challenging to get kids to see the value in working slowly and methodically.”
In my experience, focus on competitions can, indeed, take away from technique. We saw that happen to Julian. Plus, for the last few years, Julian’s teachers have encouraged him not to compete. They said that the time spent learning dance routines took away from time spent perfecting technique. (Not to mention that the judging at competitions is not always so great, but that’s another whole subject.)
When Julian danced at Dance Attack Los Gatos, one year they would have a recital and the next year they would call their “technique year” and not have a recital. This allowed teachers to focus on technique all your long rather than stopping mid year to teach choreography and focus on all the stuff that goes into putting on a show. I thought this made a lot of sense, and Julian learned a lot more during those technique years.
I think he learned a lot about performing while he was on the Dance Attack Los Gatos performing/competition team, but after the second year we actually thought his technique had gone down hill. That’s when we pulled him out and enrolled him at Ballet San Jose School.
So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s my two cents worth: I think competitions have their place, especially for boys, who tend to really like competition. They also help kids learn how to perform. That said, I do think they can take away from technique, even though to win at a competion you really should have to have good technique in your performance. I think the focus gets put on the performance over the technique, though.
Now, in a perfect world. your son’s (or mine’s) performance or competiton routine should require him — or rather his teacher should require him — to have perfect technique before he gets up on that stage before the judges.