A funny thing happened on the way to the dance floor. I took all my dance lessons, not to mention private lessons, but no one ever told me the dos and dont’s of competing. In many ways, I was no more prepared than the man on the moon!
My first experience was horrifying! My thoughts were to run and run fast out of the ballroom! What on earth was I thinking? Me. competing? The only thing I was prepared for was a brown paper sack. I was over-ventilating and very near puking.
After what seemed like an hour on the floor I was told by very loving friends how well I did. After several shots of Crown and pleasantries, my friends shared some truths. I would like to share these, once again, with anyone who thinks that competing is only for the strong willed and most talented people.
First thing to remember is have fun. These are your 3 minutes and every dancer in that room knows the courage it takes to be out there. Sharon Prickett once told me to remember that those people who were your friends when you went out on the dance floor, still are; those that weren’t, still aren’t and the other 90%, don’t give a rats! So enjoy.
Rules: Have you read and understand the rules? I know I didn’t. Every contest, unfortunately, has different rules. If you are uncertain ask your Coach or have your Coach check with the Event’s Chief Judge. Do this BEFORE you begin choreography. NEVER enter a contest unless you are sure of what is expected of you. NEVER! All rules can be found at that events’ website. Asking a friend is fine, but not recommended. The Chief Judge will steer you in the right direction. Being disqualified or have marks against you because you didn’t take the time to get clarification would so be your fault! If you don’t agree with the rules, you still have a choice—don’t compete!
Registration: Here again, check on the Event’s website. If there is a cutoff date, be sure you’re on time. It is your responsibility to get this done.
Music: Have several copies of your music made. Give an extra copy to your partner, have one to turn in at the dancer’s meeting and keep another for your early morning practice. Be certain only the song that you’re competing to is the 1st track. If you have any instructions for the DJ, write them on the cover, BEFORE you turn your music in at the dancers’ meeting.
Attire: Rule of Thumb: Do yourself a favor. Practice your routine in your costume. If your pants are too tight, they may tear. If your top is too small, you may expose something you didn’t wish to. Don’t show your midriff unless you’re well built. This can be an offensive sight. Guys …neutral colors work best. Trying to match your lady, unless you purchased off the same roll of fabric, can be disastrous. Polish your shoes and for heaven’s sake, don’t let anyone see the hole in them. GROSS!
Ladies, if you have long hair, don’t fling it in your partner’s face. He is trying to lead and denying him the vision to do so, is extremely unhealthy to your performance.
The night before: The night before a competition, don’t booze it up and go to bed late. This is entirely too draining, you do need your rest. The day of competition, relax and don’t over practice. You either know your routine or you don’t. Over practicing can add unnecessary pressures, causing concerns over moves you’ve never had problems with before. Have a salad, nap , easy does it.
Me? I hide and vegetate. I enjoy listening to my music and doing the routine in my head a gazillion times, but that’s just me. Each of you will develop your own rituals. Some of you may have overly intentioned friends. Love them, but don’t hang on their every word. Hide out in your room if you have to, to get your peace of mind. Selfish as it may sound, a competitor has got to do what they have to do and right now it’s all about you!
Don’t be late: Be at the dancers’ staging area about 15 minutes before you compete and for heaven’s sake, know your number. Running late can play havoc with your already shredded nerves. So don’t do it. Feeling like a “cat in a closet” is normal. Needing to use the restroom is also normal. Just take a deep breathe and relax as best you can.
It’s your turn: Take a deep breath. IT’S SHOWTIME. Walk out smiling and EXUDE CONFIDENCE! This is what you have worked so hard for. This is YOUR 3 minutes. OWN THEM! Pay attention to your partner. He or she needs your undivided attention. You’re in this together. Win, loose or draw, ALWAYS BE GRACIOUS. As far as I know, no couple ever walked out on the floor whose goal was to mess up!
After your performance, be sure to bow, FACES UP. You have a lot to be proud of.
As Gary Long often reminds us, “You are a Champion. Why? Because you were out there and they were not”.
Congratulations and welcome to the world of competition! UGH!!