Competition Preparation: Judges Are Not Scary!

We’re constantly telling our daughters to ‘just have fun!’ before every dance class and recital. While I absolutely agree that having fun is an essential piece of dance, there does come a time when it becomes high stakes. 

I often get asked (by non-dance moms) why I started Alessandra on a competition team at such a young age. And, it’s a valid question! Once I explain all of the benefits of dance competition, they get it — and I’m always glad they asked so that I could educate them it! Putting our daughters on stage to be judged is just as scary for us as it is for them. One of my best comebacks is likening dance competitions to sports games — no one bats an eye when we put our kids in t-ball or soccer, so why should competitive dance be any different?

Our dancers’ expression and movement will be judged more and more as they advance in competitive dance. All of that preparation and hard work will pay off when they go on a big audition in the future, or compete for a spot at an arts high school or college program. Instilling the value of competition, practice, and hard work now will help establish confidence in every aspect of their lives. 

Just like prepping a child for a soccer game, it’s necessary to prep our dancers for competitions. They may be nervous to perform in front of a large audience on an unfamiliar stage — and be judged for their movement. Here are my top tips to ease those fears during competition:

  1. Watch the Judges. Before my daughter goes on stage, we take the opportunity to sit in the audience during some early dances. I specifically point out the judges and note how kind and friendly they look (and they are!). It’s fun to watch the judges bop in their chairs while they watch the group on stage; it demonstrates that they are people too, and that they’re going to enjoy the show no matter what!
  2. Explain the Microphones. Judges will typically have a microphone in front of them, which your daughter may pick up on! Explain that this is for the judges to provide feedback to make their dance better! The judges have the capability to record their feedback on each dancer, and then they will send that feedback to the studio. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our dancers to hear live-time feedback on the performance! 
  3. Help Her Understand Judges Want Her to Do Well. Judges aren’t mean, they are people just like us! Their whole purpose is to provide feedback to make our daughters better dancers. This can fire her competitive streak while also assuaging her fears about being judged for her performance. Constructive feedback is something that she’ll experience at every stage in life; you can even liken it to getting a report card from their teacher!

I guarantee that once your daughter understands the purpose of competition and the judging elements that go with it, she will become even more confident and work even harder to always put her best foot forward.