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To Compete or to Perform?

That is the question....

If you have read some of my previous blogs, you may know how important this question is BEFORE you sign up at a dance school. Trust me, it will save you much heartache and strife in the future--for everyone-- the parent, the dancer, and the studio.

Let me please stress this statement first: There isn't a universal "right" choice to this question, but there IS a "right" choice for you, as an individual.

Dance schools that focus on competition

Lots of dance schools focus on a competitive program. It is exciting, fast paced, tons of glitter and lights.... and overall glamourous. You get to travel to compete, there are trophies, and blissful excitement. Who wouldn't want to be a part of the action?

In my humble opinion, here are the pros and cons of Competition:


  • You get to travel to different cities you may not normally get to go to.

  • You have one costume (per dance) that you use over and over again (although your dancer may see this as a "con" haha)

  • You have lots of performing opportunities--which promotes quick adaptation to new things

  • It will broaden your horizons and help push yourself as a dancer

  • It can be a lot of fun


  • Not all competitions are equal--or fair

  • In perfecting routines, you miss out on learning dance technique and good foundations

  • Competitions bring out drama-in kids, parents, and everyone

  • amplifies negative personal perfectionism, comparison

  • huge commitment (time and money)--you are all in or all out

Dance school that focus on performing

Some schools prefer to avoid the drama and strife that competition may cause, and instead focus on performance. These school give their students more opportunities to perform throughout the year--possibly at fairs, events, or as special guests. Some schools may have a "Performing Company" that students have the opportunity to be a part of. Again, here is my humble opinion on the pros and cons of a performing school:


  • the student learns progressively and the class focus is on technique for a solid foundation

  • less focus on conforming to the group--individual style can be expressed

  • the whole school works together, rather than just a small group

  • promotes comradery, teamwork, and self-confidence

  • balance between performance and class work


  • not much travel to fun, new places

  • students may not be aware of the dance world outside of their school (false ideas, impressions)

  • some students may become complacent in their "safety" zone and not push themselves to improve

  • overall less stage time than competitive dancers

  • no trophies or "rewards", other than applause and audience appreciation (although this can be a "pro" as well)

In the end, it is YOU that has to decide what is best for your dancer--and your family. Different kids will flourish in different circumstances. Just remember--like snowflakes, no 2 dance studios are the same. Make sure you do your homework beforehand so you know your money is being spent in the right way for you and your dancer.

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