For many teams in the dance community, the season has begun. People are being trained, and groups are being formed and rebuilt. Everyone is gearing up to release the latest instalment in their own teams’ sagas. After the rush and excitement of tryouts has died down, it’s time for us to face our first hurdles. The challenges around us begin to take shape and turn into threats that threaten to bring us down, yet we persevere, heading for our final objective. The dance competition is the last destination.

The dance competition is what brought this community to life. It has taken numerous shapes, each of which has left its mark on history, which is the subject of this storey. The dance competition: why we love it, why we do it, the obstacles we confront, and what it’s really about is the place and performance we all spend so much time, blood, sweat, and tears preparing for.

Why It Sucks Sometimes

It’s sometimes difficult to recall why dancers like competing so much. Most of the time, it’s a losing, uphill battle. Anyone with a passion for something has had to juggle their passion with friends, family, school, employment, and money at some point. So you’ll have to juggle that with your LIFE. Keep in mind that many of us have people in our lives who aren’t particularly supportive of us going out “galavanting at night” when we’re actually at rehearsals.

So, on top of balancing life and dance, hardly one likes us, and we’re galavanters. Then there’s the dreaded CASTING, as many dancers refer to it. Casting would be all the icebergs out in the ocean that threaten to sink your dance team if the competition were a boat and the competition was your goal. Some individuals are saved, others are hurt, and almost no one is happy, even those with the greatest seats on the life raft. Oh, and don’t forget about the competition itself. I don’t know about you, but competition day is a difficult day for us.

Everyone is scared about the big day, concerned that we may make a mistake. We’re concerned about whether or not the major bet we’re making on a set will pay off. We’re not sure if the topics we chose will resonate or if they’ll fall flat and be boring (and no one wants to be boring). We’re exhausted on top of everything else. These are common experiences for dancers. Those who have chosen to stand up and produce these events have their own set of challenges.

Can we make it through the ups and downs of the dancing world? Are we going out of our way to make everyone in the building happy? Can we demonstrate to people that it’s not about the money but rather about the audience and the dancers? Is this thing we all made, this place we all made together as dancers, still essential to the world, or is this the year the dream dies?

But We Keep On Going

This thing we do, and the love we have for it, gives life MEANING, which we all lose from time to time. It’s the thing that allows us to cope with the pressures of “friends/family/school/work/money.” It’s what reminds us that casting is all about surviving a disaster and growing as a result of it. It’s what reminds us that the anxiety we’re experiencing as we approach the big day is WORTH IT.

And when we walk up on that platform, and the crowd loves and applauds our topic, it reminds us that our nerves were nothing more than EXCITEMENT.

It serves as a reminder that we are all connected. I’m sure you’re all feeling it. We’re all connected, even though some of us are more aware of it than others: through house parties, someone’s dance project, that team’s performance that we’re all watching, and this other guy’s choreography that we all like but try not to duplicate.

These competitions might be viewed as life metaphors. We get the knowledge that benefits us in many aspects of our lives. We make mistakes here and there, and we take risks elsewhere. We confront things that terrify us and learn to face them with courage. We fall and get back up. The dancing competition is the thing that pulls us away from who we are in the real world and brings us closer to the person we want to be for many of us. It’s a link between us.

And if we ever worry that the dream will come to an end or that it will all go away tonight, we’re reminded that this place isn’t about death, but about resurrection, since dreams don’t die here, they’re born.

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