USA Dance Chapter 5047
P.O. Box 94766
Albuquerque, NM 87199
United States

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A Student's Perspective: Dance Competitions Are Good for You

Eileen Tenn

Have you ever said to yourself, "I'm not good enough to dance in a showcase or a competition?" I liken it to the overweight guy who tells himself, "I can't go to the gym until I look better in my shorts." That's somebody who is never going to make it to the gym.

For Doug and me, doing competitions and showcases is an important part of the process of becoming better dancers.

Last month we competed in the USA Dance Nationals competition for amateur dancers. In June, we'll join several Dance Station students who will compete at the Colorado Star Ball in Denver with our instructors.

Competitions are a way for us to validate the effort we put into our dancing. We are not out to "beat" another couple or "win" the competition. (Okay, I admit it's nice to get a first place. And we have been known to look at a winning couple and say to ourselves, "We can do that!" or, "What did they do that we didn't?")

But competitions aren't about winning. Instead, they are a chance for us to gauge where we are in our dancing, and how we are doing against other dancers who are at the same level that we are. For that one minute and 20 seconds on the competition floor, we are dancing for everyone to see.

The biggest benefit of competing isn't the event itself, but the preparation. Knowing you have a competition coming up forces you to focus and really practice. No matter how well or how poorly we do in a competition, we are better dancers merely for participating.

That's why we encourage everyone at the Dance Station to try a competition, no matter what your level or age. There is a level for everyone, from beginners to Ohio Star Ball-quality dancers. We are always amazed after we watch our fellow Dance Station students perform a beautiful and complicated routine in a showcase—and then say they couldn't possibly be good enough to do a freestyle dance at a competition!

Those of you who dance only with an instructor could sign up for a pro-am competition, like the Colorado Star Ball. Why not join us? The more, the merrier (and the cheaper)!

For those of us who dance with a spouse or another amateur partner, USA Dance sponsors amateur competitions during the year throughout the United States. We've come to really enjoy the fun and low-key atmosphere at these competitions. Even better, they're very affordable. Visit the USA Dance Web site, , for a calendar of upcoming events.

Doug and I started dancing about five years ago because we wanted to be able to do a few steps on a cruise. But it's become a much bigger part of our lives than we ever expected. We'll never win Blackpool, but that's not the point. With every competition we enter, Doug and I become better dancers.

We got our butts kicked at Nationals last month, but that experience was a powerful motivation. We came away from Baltimore determined to do better at next year's Nationals.

After all, the only way the fat guy is going to fit into his shorts is to go to the gym. And the only way any of us are ever going to be good enough to dance in a competition . . . is to dance in a competition!