Goals are essential for any journey. They keep you motivated and accountable at the same time. Dancesport is no different, and competitions are great goals to work toward.
But as students, we’re not dancing or competing for a living, we’re doing it for the sheer joy, and for the feelings of accomplishment and growth. We still work and live outside of the dancesport world, and sometimes that reality interferes with our fantasy.
When you don’t have a specific event to work toward, it can feel hard to justify the money spent on private lessons. Setting non-competition goals that will challenge you, keep you engaged and feel rewarding when you reach them can keep you motivated and dancing guilt-free while you’re on a break from competition.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Learn a new style.
Learning a new dance style requires a different focus compared to building on a style you have already competed in. It will likely be months before you feel like any new style is “competition ready,” which means you won’t be itching to test it out on the floor any time soon.
2. Switch roles with your teacher.
If you’re a woman, learn to lead. If you’re a man, learn to follow! Switching roles will completely confuse your brain, in a fun way, and give you a fresh perspective on what you’ve already worked on. You will also find that your dancing improves when you switch back to your normal role. If you ever toyed with the idea of teaching dance one day, being able to switch roles will be critical.
3. Review the syllabus.
From bronze to gold, the different levels of skill in dancesport require you to know different steps. If you get a sense of accomplishment from checking things off, go through the dance syllabus with your teacher and find out how much you actually know! Depending on your level, this goal may not take long to achieve, but it’s another one that will benefit you in the future if you are thinking of becoming a teacher.
4. Level up.
If you’ve competed at the same level for a while, maybe it’s time to move up! This is the goal I’ve set for myself during my current break. My last competition of 2018 was the Embassy Ballroom Championships where I won a World title in American Smooth at the Silver level. It felt like a good time to move up to the Open level, and so while I build up my competition coffers again, I’ll be developing new routines with my teacher.
5. Enter a team match.
These mini in-studio competitions allow you to dance in a competitive setting with a lower cost compared to the big competitions. You’ll also have the chance to get some feedback from a judge or coach.
6. Perform at a practice party
Let your teacher and/or the studio’s owner/manager know that you want to perform at the next party that includes student spotlight dances. You’ll get the thrill and challenge of performing in front of an audience without the extra cost of signing up for a showcase or recital. You could choreograph something new with your teacher or dance one of your competitive routines as a demonstration. Have someone record your performance, so you have something to review and work on afterward.
Although nothing quite matches the rush you get from going out on that competition floor, there are other possible goals to work on. It might feel like you’re missing out when you can’t compete, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still feel accomplished in your dancing!