Forum: Competitions

Kids not interested in competing....
By XxDaNcEaHoLiCxX
On Thu Jun 30, 2011 01:49 PM

I teach Irish dancing and my problem is that half of my dancers are not really interested in competing at all!! I know this sounds harsh, but I am not really interested in entertaining a bunch of 10 to 13-year-old girls who don't practice at home and always complain!! Some of them are really talented but they haven't improved much at all during the last 1-2 years.
I have a couple of new one, who have only started 3 months ago and they have already caught up with the lazy girls who have now been dancing for 2-3 years!!!
It's soo frustating!!! I'm very competitive myself, I've won many titles over the years and competitions have never failed to motivate me to work hard and I don't think I would be as good as I am now, if I hadn't competed.
I've taught them all their Beginner dances and 2 Primary (which is the second level) dances and I want them to enter Beginner Competitions, so that they eventually move up to the next level!!! If I just continue teaching them more advanced stuff, they will forget all their Beginner dances and we'd have to start all over again if they change their mind about competing!!!

I hope that makes sense, I'm really upset right now and would love to hear someone's opinion!!!


18 Replies to Kids not interested in competing....

re: Kids not interested in competing....
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member
On Thu Jun 30, 2011 02:09 PM
I will admit that I don't know much about Irish, i will admit, but I am a bit shocked that you are so irritated that your kids do not want to compete! Competition isn't for everyone, and even just working with kids with dance can help them immensely--and you are being paid for it, after all.

We don't get to choose our student's priorities or goals, and I understand that it's weird for you (having had competition a large part of your life) but your job is to be a mentor to them and help them in the way that is best for their life. It's understandable to be disappointed, but I don't think you should push them into competing.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By Dream_chaserPremium member
On Thu Jun 30, 2011 08:24 PM
Some kids just dance for fun and not to be the best. That's okay. For many schools, that is the bread and butter of the school.

If you are not into teaching them, hire a teacher who will. Just teaching them the joy of dance, is enough for many.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:20 AM
Edited by Chaconne (182529) on 2011-07-01 13:10:27 Sp.
I come from the world of music (violinist, not dancing [my DDN connection is that I play in a ballet orchestra.]

While certainly there are violin competitions, the music world does not revolve around that. For us, the be all and end all is performance. For real audiences...some of whom pay money to see us.

I have often wondered since I came to DDN why this great emphasis on competition, particularly in Irish, Highland and Disco. Like music, I am aware that other dancing genre do have competitions, but the main emphasis is upon public performances.

I have attended several ID based shows...some of Riverdance proportions, some at the Busch theme parks and probably the best one was a local company who put on a 2 hour show and filled the theater to great applause. There were no judges that I was aware of. They were all great entertainment.

Like dancing, we in music, have to start with basics, mostly as kids. We hone our skills, not by contests as much as having the opportunity to play in increasingly demanding venues, starting with recitals by individual teachers' schools, small ensembles, school, universities, conservatories, ad hoc things such as churches until we finally reach a stage where we can perform as soloist or as part of an orchestras at extremely high levels of skill.

As something of an outsider, I'd be interested in hearing a discussion along the lines of "Should ID, Highland, and Disco switch their emphasis from competition to public performance."

Disclaimer... I missed a local highland show here as I had my own symphony concert to play at the same time and being in the USA, Disco is really not seen here.

re: Kids not interested in competing....
By J1ll
On Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:33 AM
I advocate for my dancers to choose the right path for them. I personally don't believe in the competition world in general but I don't begrudge those that do the opportunity to pursue dance on their terms.
And I am not an ID so perhaps the emphasis is different, but why is it frustrating to teach students dance for the love of dancing? Most studios need medals and trophies and awards as a marketing tool, frankly I'd rather build my business on a solid reputation for turning out quality dancers.
I agree with the other posters though- If you're unhappy teaching these students you are doing them a disservice and should hire someone else or refer them to a teacher that would be happy to have them.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:50 AM
I think in Irish dance there is a lot more attention given to competing (hence the active community here at DDN). When I was in hgih school, I was part of the most advanced classes at my studio (ballet, jazz, tap, etc.). Others studios nearby had been getting heavily into the competition circuit and our teacher asked us if we wanted to compete. "Sure, why not?" we replied.....and this lasted one year. Lots of reasons why we weren't interested in competing more, but primarily, we just simply didn't WANT to be judged for our dancing. Having a numerical score was just not that important to us. Other studios and groups feel differently and my studio now competes regularly, but it just wasn't for us.

I do not know your 10-13 year olds, but I do know that that is often an age where they are (and in my OWN opinion SHOULD be) experiencing lots of different activities at a moderate level of commitment. I know my dance studio had and still has issues with this, ie. ballet lessons, basketball camp, piano lessons, etc. It makes me really sad to think that you consider girls who aren't interested in competing and don't practice at home "lazy" at that age.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By GetRhythmmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:36 PM
I just want to say that I think it's unfair to assume that your kids are lazy because they aren't competitive dancers. They can be lazy just to be lazy; it's not a result of them not wanting to compete.

Unfortunately, we all have to deal with lazy students. I often remind mine, "Hey, it's not me who's going to get on stage and look silly. If you don't want to practice at home, that's your choice." Just teach the ones who want to learn and the others will sink or learn to swim.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By vfdtPremium member
On Fri Jul 01, 2011 04:25 PM
The dance school I bought 7 years ago from its original retiring owner, was performance based for 30 years. (I myself trained at a Ballet Academy that didn't even have recitals, but did have an annual Nutcracker.) In our northeast area, dance competitions aren't that popular either. I of course got tons of Comp flyers in the mail, but never considered them necessary - we were too busy performing.

However, I was losing too many preteens to all-consuming sports teams that lured the girls away with the promise of a trip to nationals in Texas, etc. Also, because my school shrunk in size, I had to use all of our dancers in our performances, and the teens started acting like they were doing me a favor by being in our shows. They'd miss classes and rehearsals to be in their conflicting school activities, and I couldn't threaten them with dismissal, as they knew I needed dancers, or else I'd have no show. Technique degraded, and I was frustrated with their complacency and poor performances.

In desperation, last year I started doing two local competitions, with the hope that seeing their peers performing at a higher level would motivate our preteens to put dance first. I regret that it had to come to this, but it seems to be helping. Frankly, dance performances here are not popular nor well attended by the general public (just the dancers' families.) I don't see the point in dragging our dancers out to perform before a dozen people. Most local schools do LOTS of well-known Musical Theatre shows, and they usually sell out, to our (dance schools) detriment.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By XxDaNcEaHoLiCxX
On Sat Jul 02, 2011 06:25 AM
I'm not saying they are lazy because they're not competitive dancers. It just annoys me a bit when I teach them a new dance and they come back the next week and can't remember anything because they haven't practiced once!
It wouldn't bother me that much that they're not interested in competing if they were interested in improving but some of them actually say things like "Oh no, haven't we learned enough hard shoe dances?!" or "I don't want to learn something new, AGAIN!". Upcoming performances don't motivate them to practice either because they always get told that they've done a great job!

Chaconne, most (or probably even ALL) of the dancers at the Busch theme parks or Riverdance are World Champions or have placed at the worlds. It's often a requirement for auditions. I don't think ID (I don't know much about Highland and Disco) should switch the emphasis from competition to public performance because it's part of our tradition. Here's an old video, so you get the idea: . . .
It's also a family event and you get to know so many people from all over the world and you get the chance to dance to live music. I have always loved traveling to different counties with my friends and family, it also brings the school together!

I'm thinking about splitting the classes to have one for the girls who'd like to compete and to have a "fun class" for those who don't. I'm not sure if this will work because they will probably want to stay in the class with their friends but it's probably worth a try.
re: Kids not interested in competing.... (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member
On Sat Jul 02, 2011 09:57 AM
I think what I would do in your situation is make the adage, "Forbidden fruit is the sweetest" work for you.

I'd announce that you are holding auditions in a month or two for the "select" team. In order to be selected the dancer must demonstrate blah, blah, blah, have good attendance,and be able to dance this dance or that with competence. The team will be limited to 8 (or 15, or what ever you choose), and the family must agree to blah, blah, blah.

Cheerleaders are rarely girls who love to dance, or who posses incredible interest in football or basketball. They are popular teenagers who need the limelight. Perhaps if you "sold" the performing group in a selective way you might get a more motivated group.

I'm so sorry you are so frustrated. It seems to me that the general complaints you voiced could be applied to most of us who are over the age of 35. I know it doesn't apply to most parents, but there are far too many I deal with who are immature, undisciplined, and of adolescent mind set when it comes to the responsibilities of parenthood. They don't see the need to teach their children how to learn, they do their homework for them! Or worse...go and yell at the teacher that the homework load is interfering with their social calendar. They see no need to teach their kids qualities like tenacity or even loyalty. Fickleness has become a virtue.

I hope things get better.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By XxDaNcEaHoLiCxX
On Sat Jul 02, 2011 01:24 PM
topphilly, that sounds great but I'm not sure if I understood you correctly. Do you mean a performance team or a competition team?
Holding auditions for a performance team might actually work because they all like performing. It would make choreographing figure dances a lot easier for me as well!! But wouldn't it be mean to exclude kids like that?

I have tried this with a competition team only 1-2 weeks ago! I've sent an email to all the parents explaining that I'd like to send one team only (8 dancers) to our Oireachtas (annual championship competition where you can qualify for the Worlds) and I'm going to chose the best 8 dancers. I've also made it clear that the parents must be willing to drive their child to competitions and let them compete and that 2-3 workshops will be mandatory for them.
Unfortunately some of my best dancers were just not interested.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By colgate
On Sat Jul 02, 2011 03:19 PM
Hi, I'm an irish teacher too & I also have students who compete, but the majority don't. I understand your frustration, one girl tried competing last year & she was sooooo good BUT she didn't like it. Disappointing, but I had to shift my attitude & work out how I would cater for those 5% who wanted to compete & those 95% who wanted to dance 'for fun'.

My answer: ALL students have the same expectations, whether or not they compete. So if you don't pratice/remember the beginers treble jig, there is no way that you will start learning the hornpipe until you do. It only takes 1 student to pull the rest into line. Getting the parents onside via a general newsletter stating class expectations & procedures will help. Put a positive spin on it all 'oh wow, Jess you have done so well to remember that dance, did you practice it? Fantastic, well, next week, if you can remember it again, we wil start a new dance. Would EVERYONE like to start a new dance? Well, if you do, this is what you need to be able to do'.

However, I have just stumbled on 'think like a champion, dance like a star' on facebook ... it has a link there to Dance Teacher Champion Workshop (you have to pay for it) & alot of what he says in regards to practice, expectations, rewards instead of punishment etc is universal to all styles of dance.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By Jaenis_Yahad
On Fri Jul 22, 2011 08:52 AM
I teach Irish (hardshoe), and I feel your pain. I had a particularly hard time last year because my students came back from summer vacation, and it was so evident that they hadn't practiced. We had to start from the beginning all over again. I seriously taught technique every class just to catch them up and didn't start my dance until almost February.

I don't think that competition is for everyone. There are many competition based studios in my area, and we're currently getting to that point. But maybe they do understand that competition requires a BIG commitment and a lot of work, and they just don't want to put the time in. They might be doing you a huge favor. Could you imagine taking a bunch of girls to compete who don't want to be there or even practice? More stress for you.

Maybe you could get some girls together who do want to compete and take them to competition. That's always an option, and I've done it before and have been quite successful with it. This way, the girls who want to work and go can do so and those who just want to dance recreationally can do that as well.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By courtsnteamtash
On Fri Jul 22, 2011 01:52 PM
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-07-22 14:10:59 You must use capitalization, punctuation, and grammar in your posts.
My daughter loves dancing. She did not have any rhythm so I took her to freestyle dancing; she has improved a lot. She wanted to do comps but she doesn't put enough into her dancing when she is at comps, but puts her all into lessons. Any suggestions? xx
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By dancetcher1
On Fri Jul 22, 2011 02:24 PM
I'm thinking about splitting the classes to have one for the girls who'd like to compete and to have a "fun class" for those who don't. I'm not sure if this will work because they will probably want to stay in the class with their friends but it's probably worth a try.

yes, split the class up!! I always LOVED to dance, especially in a class, I never wanted to do competitions.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By sworddancer2
On Fri Jul 22, 2011 02:29 PM
I understand your frustration... Have your students been to watch a competition, to see the fun and excitement involved? If you still compete, maybe you could invite them to come watch you.

As a Highland dancer and teacher, we put a lot of emphasis on competition. Regarding the question of whether there should be less emphasis on competition: competition is a huge motivator. On average, dancers who do compete have better technique than non-competing dancers. Competing will push dancers to practice more; apart from extremely talented dancers, those who don't practice usually place badly, and eventually internalize the idea that practice is required to improve and to place better. I feel that one of the reasons Highland places so much importance on competitions is the fact that there are very few performance opportunities, and most of them are small community shows or shows in retirement homes. There is no progression to more exciting performance opportunities like there is in music, as Chaconne mentioned. This, I think, is the reason why performance is rarely enough to motivate dancers to practice and improve. In turn, dance forms that have the potential for more exciting performance opportunities are able to place more emphasis on performance and less on competition, because the performance itself is a challenge.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By PMDDancer89
On Mon Sep 05, 2011 08:36 PM
Competition isn't for all dancers. If they really aren't interested maybe you should offer them something different. We started a separate performance group for our students who do not want/or are not ready to compete and they do community performances instead. Its been a hit!
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By MammyID
On Wed Sep 07, 2011 09:54 AM
I realize this is an old thread, but I will put my two cents in. I also realize it can be difficult for those who don't teach Irish Dance to understand how important competition is historically in Ireland.

Irish dancing has been competition based since the eighteenth century, when the dance masters would travel from town to town in Ireland, teaching traditional dances, and then holding competitions at the end of his time in that town. This tradition of competition has evolved and developed over the past few centuries. My children are 5th generation competitive Irish Dancers. For our family, it is a sport.

Many families who join Irish Dance schools join because they also enjoy the sport of Irish Dance. Again, this isn't a new idea to compete. Its been this way for a couple of hundred years. We are just continuing the tradition.

Now that does not mean that everyone who takes Irish Dance lessons has to compete. They don't, and it would be financially disastrous for me to insist otherwise. However, my training was 100% competition based, as were many Irish Dance teachers, and I love competition. And, even the teachers who teach at non-competitive studios almost all competed in their training. It is a requirement for dancers in the big ID performance troupes to have reached the highest level of competition.

I completely agree with sworddancer2. I think competition motivates. I make no apologies for loving every minute of it. Its a cultural thing maybe, but I love it.

Anyway, yes, I do have dancers who are not interested, and parents who are horrified by the notion of competition. Some you can convince to change, and some you just can't. Are you a CLRG school?? We are and we have a feis just within the school, and usually after that, the kids are a bit more motivated to try a feis.

Its funny, some of my most staunchly opposed moms have done a complete 180 in the past 10 years. If you can get them competing, you will keep them dancing through high school, and coming in many instances 4 days a week. It will benefit you financially.

You just have to start really slow, and slowly get them hooked. Yes, you will stand back and see an incredibly talented dancer have no interested in competing, and then have an uncoordinated dancer go to every feis under your school name. But, if you have in there long enough, and work it slowly, they will eventually come around.
re: Kids not interested in competing....
By MammyID
On Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:03 AM
I'd also like to add that we used to do exactly what Topphilly said, as in forbidden fruit is the sweetest" we sent out letters to the parents of talented dancers and told them that we are forming a special competition based class for them as their child was "talented, "gifted" s"showed great promise".

That is ultimately what got the ball rolling. I got a few complaints from parents of kids who weren't invited, but ultimately, it worked better than I had anticipated.


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