When Dusty Button was a student she was a frequent competitor. Pictured here with Bradley Schlagheck. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Button.

Our Best Tips: Competitions

Competitions can be intimidating. But their many benefits can serve you well, regardless of whether you come home with a prize. Whether you're a competition veteran or trying it for the first time, here are a few of our best tips for making the most of the experience.

Evaluate whether you're ready. You may be a technically advanced dancer, but competitions come with a whole other set of challenges, from networking to the stress of performing for judges. Before signing up, ask yourself these questions to clarify your goals and make sure you're prepared to handle the pressure.


Make a game-day plan. The day of, use the time between your morning class and your performance to prep both mentally and physically. That means keeping yourself warm without overdoing it, and finding your own strategies for getting in the zone.

Avoid common mistakes. Every judge is different, but steering clear of some typical pet peeves—like unprofessional behavior, or prioritizing tricks over artistry—will help you make a good impression.

Show the judges who you are. Remember that the judges are looking at more than just technique. Choose a variation that showcases your strengths, and let your artistry and love of dance shine through.

Winning isn't everything. Keep in mind that the potential benefits of competitions go way beyond medals. Take advantage of the opportunities to be seen by company and school directors, gain confidence as a performer, make new friends and learn from new experiences.

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