As I've said before, I have been dancing for about ten years... studying multiple dance styles. Those dance styles have consisted of tap, jazz, and ballet, which is usually required of you if you compete, or are in "academy" at my studio. Now let me tell a little bit about competitions. From the point of view of the ballerina critic I am, you see a diverse range of dancers. My studio may not go to the super "high end" competitions, but they are one thing I don't like as much. Sometimes, I dread them. Being on stage, and hanging with friends is fun, but there is too much in-between time with all the other dancers there. It's also entertaining to pick out all the "Dance Moms". It's always nice to receive critiques from the judges, but when I performed my variation at one of the competitions, they said "Nice Choreography".... you might want to tell that to Petipa. A classical ballet variation is just that "classic" it is not new or unknown choreography.
Youth American Grand Prix is a whole other type of competition, though. It is one, if not the, world's largest ballet competition, providing opportunities and scholarships for dancers in multiple countries. The whole process is very professional: judges who are part of the ballet world, committed dancers of all ages, and strict guidelines that allow no goofin'.
This is my studio's second year participating in this competition. We took seven girls last year, but now are taking 12... so, only a small group of the top levels. We start in the summer, and aim to work every week leading up to the competition. We do a contemporary piece, as well as learn a classical variation, both to compete at the three day competition. There isn't one rehearsal where I come out energized, and ready to continue dancing. I come out exhausted, using what little energy I have left to walk out to the car. The program isn't cheap and you want to work hard to present yourself well, so I push myself harder than usual during rehearsals. The most valuable thing from this whole process is the improvement, not only as a dancer, but emotionally. You improve, learn about yourself, problem solve, and are inspired by all the other dedicated dancers... and of course, it's super fun! It's also really great team bonding, getting to travel and going to get fit for stunning costumes (thanks to Ballet West for letting us rent the prettiest costumes).
|The group (minus one) that went for the first year.|
Now it's January 15th, which means 14 days until I leave for Vegas to compete, which means extra hard work... which also means panic attacks. I'm trying to fit in any last minute fixes, but also just focusing on ways to perform. "Acting" is often forgotten as a big part of dance, especially ballet, and it's a lot harder than it looks. You are portraying a role, just like Jennifer Lawrence did in The Hunger Games. Being able to do that allows you to bring the audience in, being more effective.
I'm looking forward to competing, once again, and just taking in all the hard work and excitement. Bring on the blisters!