Over the past month, we been preparing for our upcoming season and receiving numerous phone calls. Some of the calls are information seeking, some of them are technical questions (how do I register online), some are ready to register and get started, and others....make me pause a bit.
Of the pause-causing questions, the one I've fielded most often is "Do you have a competition team and how do I get started?" My typical response involves a quick interview of sorts that inquires about previous dance experience, shares expectations for our PERFORMANCE Company (We don't have a competition team), and explains the audition process. Without fail, about half of the people that ask this question follow with "but I don't want to take ballet/modern/INSERT OTHER TECHNIQUE CLASSES HERE, I just want to be on the competition team," or this, "I've never taken dance before but I do all types of dances at home."
HERE'S WHAT I HAVE TO SAY TO YOU...
Listen, I love your enthusiam, but the technique, flexibility, strength, musicality, stage presence, and beyond that are required for a competition or performance company don't just show up without training. THIS IS HARD WORK. For every amazing dancer you aspire to be, there are anywhere from 3-10 hours a day of TECHNIQUE that prepares them for the demands of the choreography that you idealize. I see that you're naturally flexible and you learned how to pirouette (kinda) from YouTube, but you're probably not ready--YET.
And fortunately, and unfortunately, we live in the era of So You Think You Can Dance, Dance Moms, and a microwave generation. Thank you SYTYCD and Dance Moms for bringing our art to mainstream media, but no thank you to the many unrealistic expectations that have followed. It seems that the breadth of dance has been reduced to a 2 minute peformance before a panel and the loosely defined style of contemporary. Dance is so much more than a side tilt and aerial, and these tricks--when beautifully executed--are a result of bodies being conditioned over time in...technique class.
Please know that we (your teachers) want to see you succeed; we want you to become THAT dancer. But understand, you will not get there without hours of hard work, dedication, critiques, repetition, sweat, pain, fatigue, and yes, technique classes. We, your teachers, want to introduce you to an expansive range of motion and endless creative possibilies. We want you to love the art like we do, have the ability and facility to execute any movement given you, and have a long successful career. But before your first competition/performance, there's technique class.
If you are serious about accelerating your skills in dance, talk to your school/studio/center director, I'm sure they'd be happy to work out a plan or curriculum with you that helps you attain your goals. And if for some reason, it takes many years to develop your skills and you never make the competion team; remember that many of the dancers getting paid professionally weren't competition dancers either. They are dancers with great technique who chose a different path. Take your time, get trained properly, and then you can get paid to dance--instead of paying others to let you dance!