Dance competitions are fiercely competitive and highly professional, yet they are also subjective. Judges are looking not just for the quality of your choreography, precision and placement of your footwork but also at the intangible elements of your performance: musicality, artistry, creativity and perhaps most elusively, the ability to convey and evoke emotion – to make judges and audiences feel something unexpected.
With such a challenging set of criteria, what’s the best way for young dancers to train for a dance competition? We think there are three main areas to focus on – coaching, versatility and experience – and all of them can be accomplished by attending a Joffrey Summer dance intensive.
Train with a Winning Coach
Like most competitive disciplines, dance competitions are often won by dancers who train with instructors who have coached previous winners. This is because these instructors have a strong understanding of what today’s judges are looking for; they can teach you how to deliver what judges want to see and how to avoid the mistakes judges don’t want to see.
One option for training with a winning coach is to consider a summer dance intensive directed by an instructor noted for their students’ success in dance competitions. Josie Walsh, Joffrey Ballet School’s Artistic Director for the Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York summer dance intensives, has coached numerous dancers to success in competitions such as the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP), NBC’s World of Dance and America’s Got Talent. She has even been awarded YAGP’s Outstanding Choreography award and has been featured in their New York City gala.
Train Across Multiple Disciplines
Competition dance isn’t Classical Ballet. It isn’t Contemporary. It isn’t Jazz dance, Hip Hop or Musical Theater, either. It requires dancers to show their artistry and versatility across these disciplines, and others. Winning dancers must put multiple elements and disciples together to deliver something unique and memorable.
In short, you need to be what we at Joffrey call “the dancer who has it all.” Studying multiple disciplines enhances your artistry, improves your technique and spurs your creativity, so you can bring “the total package” to your competition routines.
Why is versatility and exposure to multiple disciplines so important? It’s a given that to win in competition you need to have a strong foundation in dance, such as tight footwork, a strong frame and clean body lines. Classical or contemporary ballet is still one of the best ways to master these elements. But to catch the judge’s eye as a competition dancer and engage their imagination, you’ll need multiple sources to pull from in your routine to be able to deliver something truly unique.
Joffrey Ballet School’s summer dance intensives offer a perfect opportunity to train across disciplines as you can choose between so many disciplines. You can choose between multiple locations too. Interested in studying Latin dance? Be deeply immersed in our Miami Latin fusion intensive. Interested in classical or contemporary ballet? Choose from several intensives in various locations, including New York, San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles and more. Curious about musical theater or commercial dance? Choose an intensive in New York, Las Vegas or LA. With Joffrey, the options are practically limitless.
Gain Performance Experience
They say experience is the best teacher and when it comes to dance competitions, that’s definitely true. Experience teaches how to handle pressure, how to recover quickly and gracefully from a mistake, and how to connect with audiences and judges. This knowledge plays a role in determining who wins or loses in a dance competition. Performing also teaches you how to prepare for performances, manage pre-performance nerves and gain confidence in your ability to perform under stress.
That said, a dance competition is not necessarily the best place to gain performance experience. Judges have long memories, and you will often see the same judges at multiple competitions. You want to be remembered as a dancer that brought them a polished, finished performance, not the dancer who appeared to be learning as they went, so gaining performance experience outside of competitions is a critical element of your preparation.
Fortunately, Joffrey’s summer dance intensives offer multiple performance opportunities. Most Joffrey intensives offer in-studio dance performances for family and friends, as well as gala performances in professional performance venues. You’ll gain experience and confidence performing on a large stage in front of a real audience.
Train for Your Next Competition with Joffrey!
A Joffrey Ballet School summer dance intensive can deliver the training, versatility and experience you need to be successful in future dance competitions. Register for an audition with us today!