Competitions can be pretty nerve-wracking, even in social dancing, because dancers tend to place a lot of value on the results. In addition, you are watched, judged and compared to others, which is in itself very stressful. However it’s still a fun, motivating and exciting experience and many dancers choose to participate. If that’s you, here are some ways you could think about “Jack and Jill” type competitions to make it less stressful for yourself.
Firstly, understand that all the hard work happens at home: in your weekly classes, practice sessions with your dance partner and/or solo training. That’s where your effort should go. In the stressful environment of a competition you will most likely perform slightly below your level, so the main thing is to relax and breathe, so you could dance at your actual level. Don’t think you’ll magically start dancing better during the competition than you normally do, it rarely works like that.
Second way to get the pressure off the competition is to pretend it’s just a day party. Social dance competitions will most likely take place at the festival venue after the day’s workshops or during lunch, so treat it as a day party where you can dance a little bit before the main night party.
Thirdly, getting to the finals, getting points or placing in the Jack and Jill competition format has a lot to do with luck – which partner you will get, who else is competing, at what moment do the judges look at you, do you know the song that is playing etc. Therefore this funny recommendation that I found from ZoukNerds group could also help to have a healthier mindset: “treat it like buying a lotto ticket to win a trophy, maybe an extra prize and some points, but getting to have some dances while waiting for the lotto to be drawn”.
The way I like to think about J&J competitions is that it’s an opportunity to dance with good dancers without having to ask them. At competitions the concentration of experienced dancers tends to be higher than on the social dance floor, so why not take advantage of it?
Final suggestion I have to change your mindset about competitions is treating it as “exposure therapy”. After participating in stressful competitions, dancing at regular socials will seem so easy and relaxed in comparison, which will make you a better social dancer.
Did you find anything helpful in this article for yourself? When is your next “Jack and Jill” competition and where? Let me know in the comments!