To Compete or Not to Compete?
That is the question. This really is a personal choice, depending on how you and your child feel about being competitive and its importance. I'll go through a few pros and cons that will maybe give you something to think about as you decide whether or not dance competitions are right for your family.
It's exciting! Your dancer will get to perform more than just at the annual recital and small little shows around town. As dancers, that's what we live for, performing!
It gives your dancer a way to judge his/her own dancing compared to dancers from different studios.
Your dancer gets to learn more routines than the dancers who don't compete. Learning routines is fun for your dancer and it teaches them how to learn quickly.
Costumes!!! Your dancer will likely get more costumes that are more sparkly (and probably more expensive).
Travel! Often times dancers are able to travel out of state for national competitions at fun places like Disney World, Las Vegas, LA, and New York.
A special bond is often formed between dancers on a team - not always, some groups don't get along well, but usually spending so much time together working towards the same goal forms great friendships.
Exposure to professional companies - there are a few competitions (Youth America Grand Prix for example) that give dancers exposure to professional companies. Some awards include scholarships to study at intensive programs, and even apprenticeships with companies.
Dance competitions are very intense. If you've ever watched the TV show Dance Moms you know what I'm talking about! It's not always that way, and a lot of that depends on how your studio owner handles the drama. But even if your studio is drama-free (like my studio) there are people at the competition who seem to live for drama and it's pretty hard to avoid.
Traveling for competitions can get expensive. From the gas or plane tickets, to hotel rooms and eating out... it can get pretty costly.
Costumes! As I said above, your dancer will likely have more costumes, which means spending more money. And the costumes are probably going to be more expensive than the average costumes that are used in a recital.
And, my biggest criticism of competitions is that you are paying money for three judges to tell you whether or not they liked your routine on that particular day, at that particular time. In other words, dance doesn't work like gymnastics with a certain number of points for each "trick" that you do. It's subjective, which means if your judge is in a good mood or is really in tune to the age and abilities of dancers in a particular age group, you may score higher than if your judge is in a bad mood, hungry, tired, or has heard your song 10 times already that day.
All in all, I think competitions are exciting and fun for dancers. It really comes down to whether or not you want to deal with the negative parts of competitions - expense and drama. I will always argue that dance is an art form, not a sport, but I also know that many kids love competition and thrive on that excitement. Dance competitions give them the experience that their friends in sports get. Whichever you choose to do, I wish you and your dancer the best!