Why I don’t love eisteddfods

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret: dance competitions are NOT my favourite thing! There, I said it! This might sound weird coming from someone who has adjudicated dance competitions and regularly enters students into them. But there are a few reasons I don’t enjoy them.

1. Dance is subjective. Two adjudicators can (and do) have very different opinions on what makes a “good” routine. Opinions vary between judges, even from one day to the next (or even the morning through to the evening session!) This is unlike many sports (especially centimeters, grams and seconds sports, also known as CGS sports). When you lift the heaviest weight, you win. When you’re the first over the line, you win. Ball goes in the net? Score a point! Dance has far more variables, particularly when in competitions there are no set criteria – you actually don’t know what the judge may be looking for or may prefer!

2. Pitting dancers against each other doesn’t feel natural to me. I don’t enjoy seeing poor sportsmanship from dancers, studio owners or parents. No one has EVER asked me if I won at dance competitions, and unless it’s a solo competition of note, you’re not going to even put it on your resume.

3. Competitions are big days, with emotions running high and lots that we can’t control. It can be a bit of a pressure-cooker situation which, if children are already tired or parents are frazzled, can mean dancers don’t perform at their best.

4. Placing or not placing at a competition doesn’t measure progress. Likewise, a routine that is easy for the dancers to execute can do well in a competition, but may not provide its dancers with technical progression. A routine that is stylistically or technically challenging, created by the teacher or coach to help the dancers progress long-term, may not be award-winning.

So, Kaitlin, if you don’t like them, why do you bother entering our performance teams in competitions? Great question!

Firstly, having some dates in the calendar to work towards is a key component to goal setting. A goal without an end date is just a dream! So by having a date to have completed, polished and perfected a routine by, we are helping our students progress.
Secondly, it helps fulfil the requirement of ecological dynamics. Big words, but essentially it means that you are recreating the environment in which you are going to later perform. By entering our dancers in competitions, we are exposing them to being on stage and that will help prepare them for dancing onstage in their career (if that’s the path they choose to pursue – being in front of an audience can occur in lots of workplace roles though!)
Thirdly, while it can be expensive to enter, costume, rehearse and staff a group at a competition, it is more affordable than staging our own event every time we want to put kids on stage. In particular, the way we have created performance team packages means it is affordable for parents to support their child’s love of dance.
Lastly, and certainly not least, the camaraderie it builds between students is incredible. Seeing the friendships that develop in those gorgeous in-between moments in the dressing room or side stage are golden. I certainly don’t remember whether or not I placed at eisteddfods, but the memories made with my friends are truly treasured.

Miss Kaitlin


6 March 2023

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