What Does It Take To Succeed In Ballet Competitions?

pink classical tutu by Monica NewellWhen you write about a specific topic like ballet, costumes, and classical dance, you get to learn what people are searching for online. Because I can go “behind the scenes” of this site, I have a great opportunity to explore the  questions that bring visitors to Tutu-Love. When the YAGP and other professional ballet competitions are underway, a popular question always pops up; what does it take to succeed in ballet competitions?

There Are Hundreds Of Articles That Offer Competition Tips

It’s amazing how many forums and websites that are devoted to ballet create major discussions about the art of winning a competition.  There are tips about impressing dance judges. Blog posts are written with ideas on what not to do,  what has worked for other dancers, and things you should never do. Because there is so much information out there already, I have decided to share my own personal view about performance success.

Going Beyond The Obvious

Of course you must have top-notch technique and pleasing aesthetics. You have to have music-to-movement coordination as well. You have to look professional for your role.However, if I was a dance judge, those things alone would not make me vote for you. What you need to cultivate are the qualities that have lifted up the greatest ballerinas of our time. Not outer mechanical perfection, but the ability to “get lost” in a character role.

The Three Traits Of A Successful Ballerina

Classical tutu designed by Monica Newell
© Dance photography by Photos2U

Empathy And Connection– The most haunting performances come when you completely forget yourself and eat, live and breathe your character. I don’t want to see Jane play the role of a fairy, but become the fairy so intently, I would know for a fact that she sleeps under a magic mushroom with firefly lamps and hooks to hang up her wings. If you can understand what it would feel like to live in this world as a swan or a poor peasant or a heartbroken lover, you have reached the deepest connection of character portrayal.

Royalty With A Humble Heart-When I see a ballerina who permeates the air with elegance and self-assurance, I am captivated by that energy. It’s the emotional equivalent of watching a beautiful bride glide down the staircase in a gown covered with pearls and diamonds. It’s rich, it’s opulent, it’s  elevated finery.  The dancer who sees herself as a  high-quality individual, yet is humble enough to be teachable is on the right track.

You Simply And Purely Believe Your Path– Ballet stirs your soul, so in turn, you want to stir ours. You have known from an early age that the universe gave you the heart of a dancer. When dance is simply a part of who you are on the inside, one way or another, you will find a way to express your love for it.  On the other hand, if you take ballet classes just to feed your ego, you may be disappointed.

If all that matters is getting attention, having photos taken, having people clap for you, and posting updates of your arches on Twitter, you are missing the sole ( and soul)  purpose of the ballet.

The Biggest Tip For Ballet Competition Success

rose reflectionsWhat do I think is the secret for competition success? Don’t pay attention to the scary faces of dance judges. Instead, strive to make them feel something emotionally. Dance judges are only human after all.  In all of our human experiences, we are imprinted by the events, people, and places that touched our emotions. Ballet stories contain many emotional undercurrents; not all of them bright and happy.

Vibrating the emotional current of your character is the key to an unforgettable performance. If you can make a judge deeply feel the sadness, melancholy, despair, passion, pity, exuberance, anger, jealousy, haughtiness, joyousness,  or whimsy of your character, you are on the way to mastering the performing arts.



Image Credits:

Top Dance Photo by Edit Post Photography

Flickr.com, Rose Reflections by Beverly&Pack, No Modifications, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/


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