How Do Dance Competition Judges Encourage Dancers To Be Good Teammates?
March 22nd, 2017 by Roy Patterson
Teamwork truly makes the dream work! A dancer’s team is like your second family, and to achieve your goals on competition day – it’s important that your second family is working together! In this month’s StarQuest Judges’ Corner – hear from four of our judges and learn how they encourage their dancers to work together towards success on stage!
How do you encourage dancers to work together as a team –
not only in the studio but on stage?
Mindy Kendi – Being part of a team is so important and it not only teaches students lessons about dance, but also teaches them lessons that they can carry throughout life. I tell my students all of the time, “there is no I in team.” It may sound trivial but it couldn’t be more true. I stress to them that if one goes down, then they all go down together. They are each such an integral part of the team as a whole and they each have their own role and something special that they bring to the table. Before our rehearsal season begins, I like to do team building exercises where they have to work together to solve a problem or we do exercises where they have to display trust in each other. We also do exercises with eye contact and learning to guide and follow each other. Eye contact is such an important aspect when the dancers are on stage because it maintains the connection of the choreography to the dancers. I also like to encourage them to hang out outside of the studio because I feel that builds a strong camaraderie among them, which is so important. When all of these elements are built up (camaraderie, trust, friendship, loyalty, etc) they not only work better as a team but they become more supportive of each other. I always say, we aren’t just training dancers, we are also helping to develop them into “people” that will go off into the world. Whether they go on to dance or become a doctor, they will know how to treat others and know how to be a true professional. Dance isn’t just about learning technique and choreography but it’s about teaching our students lifelong lessons.
Maddie Kurtz – I think that cultivating awareness is one of the best ways to facilitate teamwork both in the studio and on stage. As an avid practitioner of improvisation during my collegiate and graduate level dance training, I’ve learned some strategies for this awareness that I share with my dancers. The first is to require the dancers to track every single person’s trajectory in the routine. If I pause the music and everyone closes their eyes, I should be able to ask any dancer to tell me where in the space another dancer is located. I also think it is important to know all of the movement material in a given dance, whether you are the one doing it or not. While you may not be in that section, when everyone knows everything, it creates an amazing sense of community and camaraderie that also echoes the role of a swing dancer in the professional world. Another great teamwork strategy is a simple group warm-up (once everyone feels individually warm and in their bodies), such as breathing together, before each dance. Really look at the people with whom you are about to dance and enjoy their company before you even hit the stage! That spirit and cohesive energy will radiate out to the judges, the audience, and even read on camera when you watch the dance later!
Lynda Cadarette – I think one of the most important aspects to understanding teamwork is to recognize that a team is made up of individual personalities working together toward a common goal. In a car engine, the spark plugs and tires seem to have little in common, but the car can’t function without both. When teammates have respect for each other’s unique qualities, that’s when the magic happens. I try to encourage my dancers to explore who they are (and allow others to do the same) while remaining focused on what we, as a group, are working to achieve. We all love dance for different reasons, but the bottom line is that we all LOVE dance!
Jory Bowling – I’ve always taught dancers the old saying “There is no I in team”. Working together as a team is very important to success. When you’re part of a group it’s not about you, it’s about the entire ensemble’s performance as one cohesive group. Everyone has to do their part. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. In the studio it starts with having good attendance, arriving on time, having good work ethic and always putting forth your best effort so you and your teammates can succeed. I encourage dancers to support one another, cheer each other on or give them a “you can do it” if they are stressing about a step or executing choreography properly, help someone learn choreography if they’ve been absent, give positive feedback to a teammate you feel did something well. Building a positive and encouraging relationship between one another in class and in rehearsals will carry over to the stage. If you feel supported by your teammates and you all have a great relationship, the more comfortable you’re going to be on stage in your performances together. At competition or performances it starts with arriving on time, being prepared with everything needed, stretching and warming up on your own or leading a group stretch and running through the routine. Support and encourage each other back stage before you perform. Remind each other key points that you’ve gone over in rehearsal. While you’re performing feed off one another’s energy! Make eye contact with each other. If someone messes up, don’t get mad at them or say something negative. Tell them it’s ok, everyone makes mistakes. Because we all do! At the end of the day it’s not about the medal or overall you received. It’s remembering the moments you all shared in the studio and on stage working together and encouraging each other in an uplifting atmosphere! Learning how to be a team player is a necessity and will carry over into any career you choose!
- What is one way you can be a stronger teammate to your dance family?
- Plan a team-building activity for your dance team!
Judges’ Corner is a monthly feature on the StarBlog. Have a question you’d like our judges to answer? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could see it answered in a future Judges’ Corner blog!
Mariel Pauline Rosen is the StarQuest social media concierge. She likes shiny things and believes in your sparkle!