We teachers say it all the time. It’s not about winning!! It’s not about the medals or the trophies. It’s not about the prizes.
"Just get up there on stage and do your best. Remember your corrections. Have fun. Enjoy it!"
So why do we do eisteddfods? Why do we put our kids on stage in a competitive capacity? Why not just let them perform in the studio?
Well, for SO. MANY. REASONS. And they probably aren’t the obvious ones. Here are just 12 reasons we compete in eisteddfods and competitions at GDANCE.
1. To learn how to perform under pressure.
Well, this is a big one. Remember when you felt so sick and nervous before you had to give your first big speech or presentation? Just like any other skill, performance skills are learned. If you practice something enough, it becomes second nature. Students who practice how to perform get really good at being able to function not just adequately, but exceptionally well, in front of large audiences, whether this is in the workplace, in the arts or as part of leadership in general. An incredible skill to have in life, don’t you think?
2. To have regular opportunities to better the last performance.
One of the cool things about being children, unlike adults, is that if mistakes are made, nothing truly devastating happens. There are no jobs to be lost or mortgages to default on! Regular performance opportunities allow our students the space to make a mistake, and get right back up again and try to do it better the next time. Forgot the routine? Ok, time practice harder and try it again next eisteddfod. Ran into a teammate on stage? Ok, time to become more mindful of your spacial awareness and practice that awareness next time you’re on stage. Pretty cool!
3. To honour one’s commitment to the team.
There’s a strong sense of pride and collective achievement when everyone works together toward the same goal and that goal is realised. Students who are relied upon by their teammates and in turn rely on others, feel connected to the ‘greater goal’. They know they must do their part to not let the team down, and expect the same in return. An excellent approach to teamwork is an essential skill in both collaboration with others and also successful leadership.
4. To practice the skills it takes for outstanding preparation. (Because we believe success = excellent preparation + opportunity.)
You can’t just crawl out of bed and onto the stage. With each performance comes significant preparation (both mental and physical). Students must remember everything they need for every routine and make sure they are organised enough to have it ready. They become responsible for every item they require for every dance. They become caretakers for their belongings and learn that mastering organisation and preparedness is key to a great experience and outcome. They must arrive early to make sure they are warmed up properly and to ensure their bodies and minds are in the right state for performing. When one is prepared, one can achieve anything they set out to once an opportunity presents itself.
5. To work hard on something and have it be noticed.
Everyone deserves their time to shine! It’s an opportunity for personal growth when our students are able to jump up on stage and say, “Ta-da! Look what I can do!” A fantastic tool for fostering greater self-esteem and self-belief and the feeling of pride that comes with it.
6. To develop artistic skills in a full performance setting. (Lights, costumes and make-up).
Being on stage isn’t like being in class. It’s just not. Nothing feels quite like presenting your craft under the hot stage lights, with sweaty palms, wearing full makeup and in costume. Loud music, the hum of the audience, the applause and the cheers are like nothing else. To be able to have the opportunity to practice all you have learned with all the bells and whistles of a working performance space is an experience one can only get by being there.
7. To realise the show must go on.
This is big. No matter what happens, the show will always go on. With or without you. So suck it up, fix it, stop complaining, figure it out and make a decision. You will always choose HOW you participate. As a positive contributor or a negative one; as a ‘things happen TO me’ kind of person or a 'things happen FOR me’ kind of person. The choice is yours, and life goes on anyway, so you may as well make the most of it.
8. To practice good sportspersonship, encouragement and kindness to others, particularly the “competition”.
When we are put in a competitive environment we can use the opportunity to practice kindness by supporting others in their journey and genuinely wishing them well. We can practice congratulating others on their success, consoling them in their disappointments and being kind to others by offering help when possible.
9. To observe how other students cope with pressure, nerves and even mistakes.
Children look to their peers and to older students for inspiration and guidance. Competitions and eisteddfods are rich with demonstrations and examples of great ways to address nerves, and even mistakes by watching and learning from others. By watching experienced dancers deal with the ups and downs of performing, students are better equipped to utilise new skills and strategies they may not have thought about before in dealing with their own performance experiences.
10. To learn how to cope with disappointment and remain calm under pressure.
Students learn how to manage curve balls effectively and with minimum fuss. Guaranteed, every now and then, there will be a reason to have to adjust a routine 5 minutes before going onto the stage. Someone may become unwell or develop an injury. So rather than withdraw from the section, our teachers will often make last-minute changes to a routine. Students learn how to avoid panic and chaos, manage their response to the unexpected event and develop the skills necessary to make the best of a less than desirable situation.
11. To learn how to be gracious winners.
If awarded a prize, students can learn the skills required to be humble. They can practice congratulating the other dancers for their efforts and taking pride in what they have achieved.
12. To learn how to be gracious losers.
At the end of the day, competitions are not always the most reliable indicator or your child’s progress nor that of their peers. The result of a competition is purely one person’s opinion, on one day. It is important to not get too wrapped up in the results decided by the adjudicator, but take the constructive criticism if it is useful and helpful in our journey. Listen to your teachers as a more specific indicator of your child’s development and be truly grateful for the plentiful learning opportunities that are presented to our students simply by participating.
It is for all these reasons and more, that at GDANCE we take part in eisteddfods and competitions. We believe they provide incredible opportunities for growth and developing wonderful life skills.