When I say that it is coming, it has kinda, sorta already has arrived. Everything in my life is pointing to fact that dance competition season is a massive GO! However tomorrow is the day that many of the studios I work for will compete for the first time and competitions I judge for will hold their first regional shows for the year. From my social media feed to how the next few months of my daily life will be structured, dance is certainly taking the spotlight. Although there are several conventions in the fall, it is the next few months when momentum picks up and studios across the country showcase their new routines (solos, duos, groups) on the competition stage – all the blood, sweat and tears will finally pay off.
This “Strayan” is extremely fortunate to be involved in many facets of this wonderful season. I work in several dance studios throughout the New York area and I can feel the excitement growing amongst the dancers as their first performances draw closer and closer. I was lucky enough to set choreography on many of the elite company dancers at these studios and it is extremely rewarding to watch how the pieces have come to life and the students have worked hard on perfecting the challenging elements of these creations.
Many studios in the US hire theaters for their dancers to perform all of their routines on a stage in full costume – this is a wonderful idea as it enables the dancers to iron out all their nerves and for the choreographers to see their vision come to life in a setting outside the studio. I am fortunate enough to attend a critique weekend at a wonderful studio in Little Rock, Arkansas – it is a highlight of my yearly calendar and I leave with my heart full and my mind inspired. Collaboration is KEY on these weekends and it is the minds of many working together that can bring the company pieces to new levels and see them peak before the season commences.
This weekend I am heading to Washington DC to teach the tap classes at The Process which is a wonderful dance experience created by working artists in New York City. This company prides itself on guiding students towards becoming industry professionals and I am honored to be a part of this talented team. Towards the end of the month I will also begin traveling all over the country and internationally to judge competitions. The talent I know I will witness on stage is so incredible and I sometimes have to pinch myself as a reminder that firstly these are only children, and secondly that this is my job! I also get to experience so many new places and connect with dance friends I have made all over the world – can you tell I am excited? It is definitely worth the long weekends of travel.
One final thought is something I was discussing with a past student of mine who also now resides in NYC. We were reflecting on how much dance and competing has changed over the years, not only in terms of trends and styles but in how the preparation process is approached. “Back in the day” it used to be enough to simply move together as a group and perform a routine reasonably well. In this day and age the stakes are higher – every finger tip, every eyelash is detailed and cleaned. Sometimes I’m left thinking how sad it is that such well rehearsed, professional level items will only ever be seen on a competition stage and not in front of massive crowds. It really is the “best show in town” if you are lucky enough to witness a dance competition on group day and it is safe to say the future of the performing arts industry is well taken care of.
I’ll be in my little dance bubble for the next few months or as the Aussies day off in “eisteddfod land” – CHEERS TO DANCE COMPETITION SEASON!!