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Preparing for a ballroom competition

March 24, 2010

For those of you who participate in the exciting world of competitive ballroom dancing, preparation is key.  At a competition you have the opportunity to test your metal against dancers of similar caliber, whether from your local community or all over the world.  While how you perform may give you first or sixth place, the best couples often back their performances up with lots of preparation.  So here are some ideas for approaching ballroom competitions.

Practice makes perfect…

The heart of a competitive dance couples time together is spent in practice.  Of course everyone going to a competition will be practicing, more or less hours depending on their availability and commitment.   For ideas on how to go about practicing, be sure to read “an approach to practice.”

Organizing your supplies…

Having a well-stocked dance bag can often break an otherwise good competition experience.  While there are many, many lists available online (I will include a few below), my suggestion is to create your own checklist based on these and your personal experience.  If at all possible, start gathering all your needed items early so you won’t be stressed out the day before leave looking for that eyelash glue or a shoe brush.

I like to keep my items in separate, colorful bags which make it easier to identify where I put my supplies.  For instance, I use a bright pink, fabric jewelry pouch for earrings, fake eyelashes, extra rhinestones and eyelash glue.  A blue bag holds hair pins, hair nets and bobby pins of assorted sizes.   Safety pins and thread are in yet another bag (that one is yellow). When packing I just grab each pre-packed bag (making sure to replace anything I’ve run out of beforehand) and put them in a big tote.  Then at the competition, finding what I need is just a matter of locating the right colored bag.  Plastic see-through baggies are another way to go.

More than a dancer, an athlete too…

If you are serious about competing, then stamina and strength are vital.  Many dancers supplement their actual dance training with time at the gym working with weights and doing cardio exercise to improve their endurance.   This helps your heart and your muscles to perform at their peak, so you don’t run out of steam in the middle of a round.

With all the exercise a dancer gets, it’s important to nourish your body properly.  A healthy diet is always important, but as an athlete keep in mind that your caloric needs are higher than the average person.  Whether you consult with a dietician, or just look for resources online, making sure your body has the nutrients it needs through well-balanced meals and supplements as needed.   When at a competition, keep snacks and electrolyte sports drinks on hand so you stay well energized and hydrated.

The right mindset…

Everyone has different ways of dealing with the stress of competing.   Find what works best for you individually and as a couple.  Often times each partner will have their own way to coping, so it is important to talk with each other and reach a mutual understanding.  For myself, I find humor is a great way to diffuse a tense situation.  Telling jokes and teasing instantly make me relaxed, able to enjoy the situation and perform better.  Explore different things – listening to music, meditating, watching others, reading a book, running through your routine.

Most importantly, remember to have fun.

Even in competitive situations, the dancers that are having and look like they are having fun are more likely to be noticed.  Both the audience and judges respond well to enthusiasm and smiles on the floor.  So no matter how big or small the competition, enjoy yourself.

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