Why the competition?

What drives us to compete?

In A Look In The Mirror I wrote about the creation process of a competition piece but not about the competition itself.  A few other bloggers have written on preparing for competition, competition critique and jack & jills but what about why we choose to compete?

There really are many reasons that people compete and I certainly won’t be able to explain them all but here are a few common ones.

  • Recognition
  • Expectation
  • Personal Challenge
  • Fun

Recognition: This is a very common reason within the dance community to compete.  With competition performance and success you are more visible than your peers that do not compete.  The assignment of status to competitive level dancers pushes many people to compete.  However, recognition in competition is not always positive and can bring mixed reactions from others whether due to unsporting behavior or personal opinion.

Expectation: Expectation can take the form of the expectations of peers or yourself that at a certain point you should compete.  It can be the obligation you feel if a dance partner wants to compete or of a scene pressing you forward.  Expectations can help push you higher than you expected or drag you into a situation you weren’t interested in or ready for.

Personal Challenge: With goals and determination come improvement.  Taking on a competition as a means to push your own dancing to another level can be quite empowering.  With an attitude of this sort it is more about surpassing your own limits than placing or recognition.

Fun: Getting out there in front of a crowd with your peers can be a great way to let loose and have fun.  Whether you chose to do it on a whim or because you enjoy competing; going out and having fun in a competition is probably one of the best mind frames you can have.  Just don’t get too crazy and lose sight of your partner.

Usually we end up competing for some, if not all, of these reasons.

As a competitive dancer, I have competed with each one of these in mind at some point.  These days the most important to me are the personal challenge and fun.  It is exhilarating to get on the floor with your friends and peers and bring the best you have.  With the energy of a great crowd and a good jam its hard not to feel vibrant and alive.

Watch the energy in this clip from Boston Tea Party last year.

Why do you compete?  Post a comment and let me know.

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Published in: on March 25, 2008 at 3:22 pm  Comments (7)  

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  1. A while ago Amber on danceprimer.com did an interview with Naomi Uyama in which Naomi talked a little about competing, and why she competes. (http://danceprimer.com/meet-a-dancer-naomi-uyama-part-ii/) It was pretty cool.

    I think for myself I compete for a mixture of reasons. I’ve worked hard on my dancing, and I’d like to recognized as a dancer. Also, it is kindof expected. If I didn’t enter myself in something people would ask me why. And it’s definitely a personal challenge! Anything that pushes me to get past the fear is a good thing!

  2. I started competing a two years ago at BTP because I was urged by my instructors. No other reason. The second year I did it, I actually placed and things took on a new meaning for me. Now it’s all about personal challenge. I went from thinking I was a very casual dancer to a “OK, I can be a lot better. I can be more fun, more inventive, all of that…” By winning and being comfortable to move into a different bracket of competition this year, I feel like that somehow validates my progression to becoming a better dancer. Plus, it’s a great rush!

    I assume you’ll be at BTP this weekend. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

  3. My favourite dance is Collegiate Shag, which is not very popular in the swing scene. Therefore, one of the reasons I compete is to push the profile of a dance I love and to show that it’s more than a goofy little dance people rarely do.

  4. Bernadette, the interview with Naomi and her remarks on competition are great.

    Bill, that’s a reason I hadn’t thought of although it sort of falls under recognition.

    To everyone, thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. […] every competitor brought their best to the floor.  Watch last years finals as part of the “Why the competition?” […]

  6. […] Why The Competition?: A post about the reasons dancers compete. Carl, a lindy hopper, competes in partner dancing but his post is applicable to all forms of competitive dance. […]

  7. […] Why The Competition?: A post about the reasons dancers compete. Carl, a lindy hopper, competes in partner dancing but his post is applicable to all forms of competitive dance. […]


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