Friday, February 6, 2015

Hey, Competitions, We Have Something to Say!



The other day, I read an article from Dance Studio Life magazine.  It's a few years old, but I still thought it was an insightful read.   It got me thinking though, about all of the things I'd like to tell THEM, the competition directors.  I am, after all, the customer.  Sure, the studio owner chooses the competitions, the kids perform, but I am the one paying for the service.  They should know what I think too, right?  Of course, I wanted to make sure I hadn't left anything out and I wanted to include everyone - so I asked the Twitter-verse what they thought: teachers, parents, dancers. 


We were all mostly on the same page.  But here's what we generally want to be able to let the competitions we attend know:

Pricing: Please stop sheltering the studios.  Many studios add an upcharge to their fees and as long as the parents were told ahead of time, that's ok. But, as mentioned above, we are the ones paying the fees and we feel like we have the right to know what they actually are.  

Schedules: When you sell out months in advance or your cut off for submissions is 30-60 days before the competition date, why on earth can you not give us a schedule sooner than 6-7 days prior?  This is especially inconvenient for those of us that travel to competitions, have to take time off of work for Friday (or earlier) starts, etc.  Especially frustrating is when you won't put a nationals schedule out until a week prior.  We understand that there's way more that goes into creating a schedule than we realize, but a skeleton would go a long way to keep us happy.

Rules: The only rule I see being routinely enforced is no photos/videos.  While I understand the safety of the dancers, protecting choreography angle, I really feel like that one is enforced because you lose money if people don't buy YOUR videos and pictures.  The rules I want to see enforced are those related to the appropriateness of the routine - no 7 year olds dressed like and dancing to a song about prostitutes.  Other rules are more specifically addressed in other points.

Awards: The overwhelming consensus (and you all talked about this a lot in the article)  is that they are out of hand.  A gold is the best award at one competition and the worst at the next.  Then another has a triple platinum.  Another has a titanium award.  And it's been a LONG time since I've seen a silver given out.  Can't we just agree on one awards system?

Levels:  If a dancer can execute a perfect triple into a tilt drop, they're not novice. You know it. They know it. Their teacher knows it.  Stop rewarding them with the diamond ruby sparkle award and a 1st place.  Move them into the appropriate competitive category, like your rules say you'll do.  The same applies to an intermediate dancer who is in 15 numbers.  If they can rehearse 15 numbers in 6 hours or less, I have a bridge to sell you.

Overbooking: Please stop starting regional competitions on a Wednesday or Thursday.  School should come first.  Book a 2nd weekend if you have to.  Or open a second room.  But if you do that, please make sure that the 2nd stage is as of the same quality and safety as the main one.  I'm not calling anyone out, but one I attended last year with two rooms was a nightmare.

Social Media: DO IT.  Answer questions.  Respond to complaints. Retweet nice things we say about you.  And post.  Don't just throw up a Facebook page and let it gather cobwebs.

Information: We've not returned to competitions more than once because of lack of information or misinformation. Make sure that whomever is speaking for your company knows what they are talking about.  And most importantly, return the studios' phone calls and emails.  Even the small studios.  Again, not naming names...  On the reverse, one of our favorite places to go is one where the director is open and communicative with our studio owners.

Judging: Don't ignore the smaller studios.  Please make the critiques useful.  We know the costume is pretty.  Work a lunch break into the schedule if you have to.  But it would be great to get critiques that don't feature the judge chewing into the microphone. And hold your judges accountable for giving everyone a critique.  One year, I sat and watched a judge enter a score after about 15 seconds for every single novice and intermediate number.  He only watched the advanced numbers.  All. Day. Long.  


Of course, we don't know if any of them will read this post.  So, the best thing you can do is offer your feedback on Dance Competition Hub.  Competition owners and vendors are taking notice and reading our feedback, so keep posting it!

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