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Highland - Guys
Improving dance skills
By tinemarie Comments: 20, member since Tue Sep 25, 2012
On Sat Apr 27, 2013 03:25 PM

As my son has matured and grown stronger, he has seemed to place worse in competitions. He looks great on stage. His teacher is very pleased.
On occasion he messes up (wrong step or something), and he knows he DQ'd, but often lately he is not placing at all, for no good reason (we have not seen anything, teacher has not seen anything, he is not aware of anything).

The girls who dance "pretty" (light) have seemed to do better in the past 3 competitions that my son and a couple of the girls who dance more "strong" than "light".

And there is no feedback from the judges after competition, so who knows what to work on!!!!

Any advice? He is starting to feel like there is no point!

14 Replies to Improving dance skills

re: Improving dance skills
By LoriCook Comments: 1763, member since Mon Aug 17, 2009
On Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:10 PM
Get video of him and have the teacher and other people review it. My son was pointing one foot in a sickled manned. It was hard to see from where I was sitting but obvious to the judge. You can also post the video on youtube and ask us for comments. Dancing is so subjective. If the judge has a pet peeve about some little thing it can definitely mess things up for him. My son got beat by a boy with wonky arms but better turn out. Now we know that certain judge is a stickler for turn out. Have him focus on doing his personal best. The rest is out of your control.
re: Improving dance skills
By emilyruth07 Comments: 63, member since Thu Jun 23, 2011
On Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:41 AM
At a couple of the workshops I've attended this year there has been some mention that the SOBHD technical committee feels that as dancers we are starting to get too strong, technical and almost robotic. From what I've understood, this year they're looking more for dancers who bring out the "dancing" aspect of Highland by being lighter and a little more graceful, but sill keeping the technique.
Maybe that's part of the reason your son isn't placing as well lately as he has previously?
re: Improving dance skills
By Remi76 Comments: 20, member since Wed May 02, 2012
On Mon Apr 29, 2013 08:14 AM
We had the same issue with my daughter. We decided to video her dancing (practice and competition) and she was able to pick out some issues to correct herself. We have also reviewed some of the post competition videos with her teacher, this has helped a lot. Try where possible to video straight on (not always possible at competitions), because an angled view sometimes hides problems the judge sees.
re: Improving dance skills
By tinemarie Comments: 20, member since Tue Sep 25, 2012
On Fri May 03, 2013 03:24 PM
Thank you all! Keep the suggestions coming! We will definitely be recording and watching - that will be very helpful. And the insight into them looking for more graceful dancers really helps. He is going to work on some of those areas more!


re: Improving dance skills
By LoriCook Comments: 1763, member since Mon Aug 17, 2009
On Sat May 04, 2013 12:23 AM
I have to remind my son not to land so heavily. He really thumps the floor hard in some steps. Dance quietly, that might help with gracefulness.
re: Improving dance skills
By tinemarie Comments: 20, member since Tue Sep 25, 2012
On Sat May 04, 2013 02:18 PM
Yes!!! We have been reminding him about not landing too heavily!
Another competition today. He came in last in everything. The girl next to him kicked her swords, and she still came in ahead of him. He is super frustrated.
re: Improving dance skills
By HighlandSunshine Comments: 157, member since Thu Jun 21, 2007
On Sat May 04, 2013 04:00 PM
Not sure what area you're in, but perhaps try looking for competitions that offer a workshop the day after the competition. These typically allow dancers to hear comments from the judge which may help show where he could improve.
re: Improving dance skills
By LoriCook Comments: 1763, member since Mon Aug 17, 2009
On Sat May 04, 2013 06:01 PM
Definitely post a video for comments. He must be doing something wrong. I am surprised your teacher isn't catching it. Must be something subtle. Posture perhaps?
re: Improving dance skills
By tinemarie Comments: 20, member since Tue Sep 25, 2012
On Tue May 07, 2013 10:19 AM
Thanks again for everyone's help.

We are in TX, and there are not many competitions around (although more this year than normal), and rarely any workshops. I would love to have him attend some, though!

The judge actually spoke to our instructor, which is very rare, but helpful. She said my son has a lot of potential, but his feet were pronated (?), and that really hurt him. She said it was small things.

That is very helpful. And of course our instructor had been catching that, but maybe he was not taking it seriously enough. Our teacher has noticed him reverting to some form mistakes he made as a beginner, and thinks it is due to him growing again.

He needs to get used to that almost 6-ft-body of his!

We will be recording and watching and perhaps posting videos.

one month until Kansas City! We will see!
re: Improving dance skills
By WeeDancersMama Comments: 65, member since Tue Jul 28, 2009
On Tue May 07, 2013 11:28 AM
You also might think about sending him to a workshop like the Ohio Scottish Arts School or something like that where he'll do a lot of dancing with a number of different instructors who might have a way to tweak his dancing.
re: Improving dance skills
By HighlandLaura Comments: 32, member since Mon Aug 13, 2012
On Tue May 07, 2013 11:46 AM
Hi tinemarie!

Pronated feet occur when the ankle is rotated so the little toe (and possibly the next toe as well) don't touch the floor, especially when standing on the ball of the foot. Here's an example: . . .

I had pronated feet when I was younger. Your son is in luck, because Highland dance is PERFECT for fixing this problem. If left alone, pronation causes foot, ankle, knee, and lower back problems that can be quite painful, but it can be fixed with proper exercises. A chiropractor can also help fix it quicker than exercise alone.

To start out, have your son ALWAYS wear shoes with arch support. No flip flops, no bare feet, no Converse. Lack of arch support makes the problem worse. Have him do simple calf raises (stand in first, rise slowly to the ball, hold 8 counts, slowly lower) several times a day in sets of 25. While he is doing this, have him concentrate on really gluing his pinky toe to the floor while keeping good posture. This will strengthen the muscles needed to avoid pronation and is great to include in dance warmups, because it reminds him what his feet should feel like when he is dancing.

Check out . . . for some other exercises to strengthen his feet.

I will also be at the Kansas City competition! I'm retired so I won't be dancing, but I hope to see you there!
re: Improving dance skills
By readwithem Comments: 254, member since Mon Oct 01, 2007
On Tue May 07, 2013 11:04 PM
I was at Arlington and I think I know who your son is. If he's who I think he is, last year he did extremely well at Arlington, and I even told him how much he had improved - his posture was SO much better than the previous year! :)

This year his posture was still good :) and I thought he danced really well. I just think he has tougher competition in novice than he did as a beginner.

It's too bad that Texas doesn't have more competitions - I'm glad SA was added but still - it would be nice to have more opportunities to compete.

Comment #10105094 deleted
Removed by Sumayah (204191) on 2013-05-08 07:20:37 double post

re: Improving dance skills
By tinemarie Comments: 20, member since Tue Sep 25, 2012
On Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:05 AM
Again and again - thank you everyone! your suggestions have been so SO helpful! He has been working with a mirror, with recording himself, and with basic core training. We will get to work on those tips to correct pronation this summer!

We just returned from the Kansas City Highland Games, and my son had a much better showing. It was in a group of 8 and still tough competition, but his hard work for the past month or so really showed (I mean extra-work to improve his weaknesses)!

He is determined to continue working and improving.

This thread had been of invaluable help to us!