At The Dance Factory, our competition students know right from start that we don’t compete to win trophies. We compete to become better dancers than we were the day before.
Winning at a competition isn’t ultimately about which place we achieve. It isn’t about the prize or the praise. Winning is about going above and beyond by:
● Doing your best dancing
● Being a great teammate
● Encouraging others around you
We want each student to perform with their personal best in mind. There is a beautiful quote from the famous dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov that says, “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” This quote is exactly the mindset we are aiming to instill in our students.
The real competition in our dancers’ lives is within themselves, not with others. A true “win” is when they know they gave it their all … and not at the expense of someone else. Part of a winning performance is the harmony achieved in the teamwork. Our dancers are learning that stepping on another dancer’s toes (literally or figuratively) isn’t an acceptable way to reach for a win. Instead, we need to remember to lift our teammates up, to cheer them on and support them. Because if each dancer does these things for each other, everyone’s potential rises. Everyone has the capability to win.
Now don’t get us wrong: being awarded a prize is still pretty cool! We do love celebrating those victories. The reason why we don’t focus our attention there is because we know it’s temporary. It is a reflection of that particular moment in time, not a snapshot of the future. It is an exciting, fleeting moment of well-earned recognition that will be cherished as a special memory—but we must not let it define a dancer’s worth.
Our competition dancers at The Dance Factory are measuring their value in personal growth, not trophies, plaques, medals, or money. We’re teaching them to understand that winning in life—succeeding as a human being—has much more to do with their inner self than outward praise. The results of a competition or the comments from a judge can be useful for learning, but those things are not labels for life.
Winning at a competition means that every dancer has their heart centered on doing the hard work. It means that their passion and technique come together as a team. And it means that when it’s all over, we see joy on their faces and celebrate it, no matter the score.