Friday, February 26, 2010

"Let It Go"

So tomorrow is our first competition of the year... and I am surprisingly relaxed about it. It is just a solo/duet/trio competition that not my entire studio is participating in, but it is still the first time someone will judge my work this year.

I think I might actually be a bit more concerned this year about how the parent's at my studio will react to the routines. I want them to be impressed with the improvement and the uniqueness of all of our numbers and not just love them because it's their kids! I like that the parents are always moved by my work, even if the judges aren't sometimes.

I'd like to think that I educate my competitive parents enough to be able to appreciate good work from other studios, and some are really able to tell where their kids stack up in comparison. I don't like that "my kid should have won" attitude if they don't, because generally it is not warranted. We are all biased to our work, and parents to their kids, so I do understand that it can be hard to distinguish the subjectivity sometimes.

I will be the first one to admit if one of my student's deserved to win a category that they didn't... but I am also the first one to admit when one of my student's wins a category over somebody else who should have! I even jumped at a competition director last year when they awarded one of my student's 1st Overall Novice for her solo, when there was a student from another studio who had a higher score. They insisted I let the student keep the cheque and the trophy as it was their mistake, but I insisted that my student go award it to the other dancer. Sure that didn't make her parents very happy, but then really what were her parents happy about in the first place?

I want to be fair as a teacher, and as a fellow competitor with other studios, and I want my studio parent's to also be fair in their judgement of what is going on at a competition. Sure, there are times when they think someone was way over scored for their performance and will let me know, but I am quick to remember that someone from another studio might be saying that about one of my dances at the same time.

Dance competitions walk a very fine line of making everyone feel like a winner, but also truly rewarding the winners. That's why I am going to keep my perspective this weekend when watching my kids compete. What is doing "their best" for one student, is not necessarily matched by another's "best". I really appreciate when a competition spreads out the marks enough to note such differences in performances. That makes my job, as a teacher and the voice of reason, a lot easier when dealing with the students and their parents in regards to the outcome.

I will tell you one thing, that I do not do tears at competitions! Meaning, my students will not cry over results, or at least not that I will ever see. I want them to respect the judgement they receive and also be respectful to all their fellow competitors. Then if a kid cries over not "winning", their parents will then go in to a mad frenzy and proceed to go buy them a trophy in the lobby to make them feel better... which is rule #2 at my studio... no buying your kids trophies from the program table!

Honestly, the minute we walk out of a competition and all go for dinner together, it doesn't matter who won the bigger trophy out of the bunch. In fact, last year one of my Senior students won an award at a competition that was a gift of some sort that she already owned. She turned around and found a younger student from another studio, who was not carrying a trophy, handed it to her and told her she did a really great job on her solo. Now, going and announcing to our entire studio that she had done this would have defeated the entire purpose of helping to make someone else feel great about themselves as she did. There are only a few of us who know abut this, as there was no need to award her for doing such a nice gesture... I'm sure she felt rewarded enough inside. I never even mentioned it to her mom, but it sure does speak volumes about this mom's attitude that she has projected on her daughter about dance competitions!

So my goals for this weekend. 1. Let the kids enjoy spending the time together to watch each other's new numbers for the year. 2. Appreciate the performances of those students who have worked so hard to do their 'best'. 3. Appreciate the performances of those students who don't do their 'best' so that I can help them improve for next time.

Sounds easy enough right! And goal #4 - keep those "stage-parents" away from their kids so that my first 3 goals can be achieved!

Come on, every studio has them... it's just learning to deal with them that makes you the real "winner" that weekend!

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