You would think that choosing a competition to go to would be a pretty straight-forward thing.
Now that I have my masters residency behind me, I am looking to decide on competitions to give me something concrete to focus on. What I have discovered is that because my focus for competing (when I was sick it was more about just getting on the floor) has shifted, deciding on a competition is not as simple as it was before. A big part of that problem is that while I know my focus in competing has shifted, I am not quite sure what it has shifted to.
As a pro/am student, when choosing competitions it is easy to focus on the bottom line–what can I afford, what is the best value for my money and when can I afford it. I feel like that is a big part of what has been driving my decisions for competitions.
But the question I would like to be asking first is: What is the best value for my dancing?
And that is harder to nail down. Right now, I am doing a lot of shifting and rebuilding. I am changing levels and that means learning new routines. I want to focus more on closed events, but at the same time I don’t want to disregard the open events so we are also looking to work with a choreographer to develop open routines. I am trying to rebuild the strength and fitness I lost while sick, while at the same time (hopefully) also improving my technique and overall dancing.
When looking at where to compete right now, the biggest issue is that Boss and I haven’t really set any competition goals. We seem to be going about it backwards. We are looking at competitions, and then setting goals for them. I think I would rather look at what I want to achieve from a competition and then see what competition will fit that goal–and still be affordable.
One of the biggest issues with this right now is that we are heading into summer when competition are few and far between. On top of this, competing in the US is pretty much off the table with the increasing prices there and the exchange rate. Not to mention the political climate and travel unpredictability.
While I may be ready to put routines on the floor this summer, there really isn’t a competitive opportunity to do that. That will mean shifting the focus a bit and looking either longer term, or shorter term. Do I try to do a comp at the end of June, or do I wait and do two in the fall? If I do one in June, my routines aren’t likely to be very polished and it would be basically trialing them at the competition. How much do I want to spend on doing that? Do I want to use most of my competing budget to attend a competition (which would be great), with routines that aren’t well polished and not likely to be competitive? Or would it be better to find a more local competition with smaller events to get those routines on the floor before going out against the ‘big dogs’.
Part of this is that as much as I like to support the local competitions, I inevitably end up competing against the same people, getting the same results, being seen by the same judges. The pro/am portion of these competitions is always small without much variety. The same 3 teachers bring out the same 2-3 students in multiple events. I have become quite disenchanted with that. I really want to branch out and get on the floor in a new area against new people I don’t usually compete against.
But again, it brings me back to the question–when dance-wise is the best time to do this so that the opportunity is not wasted due to lack of preparation time? It’s one thing to feel ‘ready’. It’s another to not have routines or be able to complete a full round on the floor.
Whatever I decide, the one thing I need to be sure of is that it is a decision I can accept. If not, I will only resent it and that is not good for me or my dancing. It’s a lot to think on, but the only rush is my desire to have a firm goal to focus on.
Competing, especially pro/am is an investment and as such takes a lot of thought and consideration. But it is important to remember that it is not just an investment of money–it is also an investment of time, practice, discipline, motivation and personal well-being.
The trick is to figure out what meets the value for all those criteria.