Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"We're going to KICK YOUR BUTT!!!"

The comment above was left in our website Guestbook from a dancer training at another studio just before a convention we were preparing to attend. Normally, we'd ignore such a thing and delete the entry, but after some thought, this seemed to be begging for a reply!


I am replying to this message as an artist, a teacher, a director, and as a representative for my dancers.

I feel that it is a shame that "kicking someone's butt" at a competition is the highest goal any dancer would wish to attain. I have tried to teach all my students in my own company, and other companies when I'm a guest instructor, that competition is a place dancers and teachers attend to learn more about themselves and to admire the great work of others. It's a place to learn how much they have attained technically and artistically, and to see how far they've come in their goals at becoming better at their art.

Dance is not a sport to be "won" like a football game. There are no national rankings and when a dancer is ready to enter the professional world, nobody cares what competition or convention they've attended. Dance is a wonderful art form and an expression of beauty to be admired, whether it is our company or any other company.

I know your teacher, and I truly believe she has not instilled this attitude in her dancers. Trophies don't make great dancers; the single-minded goal to win them doesn't either. It's not about that.

Long after high school graduation and competitions, dancers will face either auditioning for a professional career, or for college scholarships and placement into a scholastic dance program. Will they, as an individual, be ready for this? As a teacher, I feel that preparing any student I teach for this next step is the most important thing I can do.

I wish you and your company the best of luck at JUMP. I hope to enjoy your pieces this coming weekend and hope you enjoy ours. I send you the best of luck in obtaining your wish. We've already obtained ours, which is to become better performers, train harder, work with some of the best instructors and choreographers in the country, and to help all our fellow dancers in giving 110% in everything they do.

"Kicking butt" is not our goal. It only brings jealousy, anger, and a false sense of pride and power to a world that already has way too much of all of that.


Dale Lam - Artistic Director
Les Mizzell - Technical Director
The Columbia City Jazz Dance Company Website
Dale and Les on Twitter

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