A question that comes up for me a lot is: Why do you compete? Is there any advice that you would give competitors or dancers thinking of competing? The reasons why are personal to each dancer but I can give my perspective and some of how I go about preparing for it.

My cheeky response is: for the sparkly crown for the glory! But in all seriousness, I compete for the challenge. A competition is an arena that allows you to get critique from people who don’t know you. They don’t know your teacher, your friends or your history. You are there to show them your best and go from there. It also forces you to work for months for a performance that only lasts 5 minutes, sometimes 10. Competing is that kick in the butt that gives me a goal to work towards; especially knowing that it’s in front of other dancers. Dancers who know their stuff!

baltimore bellydancer, belly dancer baltimore, bellydance by amartia
Additionally, if you don’t place or win then you have great photos and video from your performance and that’s always a great thing. You can use video for marketing purposes OR for your own personal dance development. It is also an opportunity to network and to meet other dancers. You get to be seen by a whole new audience. Who knows they may see something that you do and bring you out to teach them how to do that very thing!

In terms of advice for competitors: Know your competition! Do your research and pick the one that best suits you. Who are the judges, what do they like in a dancer, what style do they like? Yes, you’re going out there to do your best, but if your judges are all classical style dancers who love ballet lines and you don’t put that into your performance, then you’re not going to score as high as someone else. If you are a tribal dancer then make sure there is a tribal category. If all of the styles are mixed, has a tribal dancer ever won it before? It is hard for there to be no bias when you are going off of the personal opinion of the judge.

Another factor to think about is the music. What if the whole competition is to a live band? It can be hard to rehearse and choreograph. If you are dancing to a live band, look up videos from previous years. See what other dancers did who placed or competed. Listen to the music; see what the arrangement sounded like. Start prepping at least a month before. Even in an improv format the more comfortable you are and the more combos you can recall at a moment’s notice, the better. Choose your costume, hair, and any props in advance. Rehearse in them; the more you do the less likely something will go wrong- losing a headband, a bracelet. There are those times that it occurs even after you rehearse with it but doing so will limit the likelihood that it’ll happen on stage when it counts the most. These are just some of the things to consider. I could go on and on!

These are just some of the reasons and some of the advice that I give to fellow dancers. If you want the super-secret tricks, then you’ll have to sign up for some private lessons with Bellydance by Amartia 😉