So they said your hair was hideous, your lipstick was the wrong color, your costume was all wrong and after all of that you came in dead last.  Now what?

I have competed in numerous competitions, some several years in a row. I had an instance where I missed out on placing by points from a judge that didn’t know that my black veil was a meleya. Yes, it DOES happen!  I have loads of stories. (If you ever take my competition workshop, I even show some of my score sheets so you can see it in writing!)

How do we deal with it? First of all, you can’t go into a competition without having thick skin. You can either get angry about the comments or use them to get better. You won’t always win place or show. You could compete against the same dancers with the same judges, four times in a row, and place differently each time.

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In a competition setting, you have to take the critique for what it is and move on.  Figure out what of the critiques are personal bias and what are really things that you should work on. Every dancer has their bad day- a bad performance. Don’t have “sour grapes.” Crush them and turn them into wine!  You had the strength to compete and that in and of itself is more than other dancers can say. Take what the judges said and use it to get even better. There is no shame in “losing”, especially if those you competed against performed better that particular day!

In my first competition, I don’t know where I was in the ranking, but I can tell you that my scores weren’t high.  Looking back on the video, I can tell you that I was a hot mess. I looked good, but my dancing could use some work! Some of the comments I ignored; stylistic differences (costuming, hair, etc.), but the comments about my arms, my shoulders they were dead on!  I took that and worked really hard on my arms and my shoulders. They may not be perfect but they are way better than they were back then.  There is always room for improvement. Even if you win, you can always do better and there are always things to work on.

So, what do you take from this? Don’t enter a competition unless you are sure that you can handle the critique. If you enter and you are decimated by the comments, go home.  Surround yourself with those who love you and deal with the hurt. THEN turn on your resolve and work on making yourself an even better dancer! Lastly, go back to the competition next year, and KILL IT!