Competitive Dancing

by S H Wong (Dr)

Competitive Dancing

SO YOU WANT TO BE A COMPETITIVE DANCER........ The Three Phases of Competitive Dancing. Dancing as a social activity is fun,devoid of quarrels and squabbles.It is a very relaxed form of exercise for both young and old.It is part of the social graces which we picked up as we moved around the social milieu.

It is a joy to be able to dance with complete abandon and without any restrictions. Things change the moment we choose to be competitive dancers.There are THREE PHASES which most competitive dancers go through if they allow themselves to get carried away by the competitive fervour.


PHASE ONE
PHASE ONE is a period of great enthusiasm. The feverish preparation for the competition and total commitment to the teacher and his dance school are the classic hallmarks. It is what I term the ADDICTIVE PHASE. This is characterised by fanatical idolatory of the dance instructor and the immoderate devotion to the dance school.

This is also an INTOXICATING PHASE of euphoria. Being a valued competitor brings added glamour and fame, one cut above the rest of the dancers. This gives rise to a feeling of snobbery and arrogance which is further reinforced by the instructor who is always full of praises and compliments for his own students. This is purely flattery.

The student is now a warrior who can be called upon by his instructor to wage battle on the dance floor and to bring fame and glory to the school. His total and undivided devotion to his teacher and to his dancing school is almost fanatical. This phase is marked by intense rivalry and it is also the most destructive and divisive phase in the career of a competitor.

This is made worse by belligerent teachers who advocate and stronlgy believe that a dance competition is like a battle-field. To cite the worse from dance teachers: “ You must win and you must not let your teachers down. Treat the other competitors like your arch enemies. Do not converse with them. They must be destroyed. They must be vanquished at all costs. They must not be allowed to triumph over you. Go in and demolish them ! “

As a result of cumulative pressure and high expectations, the natural joy of dancing soon becomes utter misery. Dancing degenerates into pure boredom. This soon gives rise to quarrels and differences between the couple.

PHASE ONE is also characterised by extravagance in endless dance lessons,the purchase of dancing paraphernalia like shoes,gowns and tail-coats. The couple is oblivious to what is actually going on. The thought of entering a competition is so overwhelming that the passion and the thirst for the excitement is unquenchable.

PHASE ONE competitors are also very prone to injury and casualty. Sometimes, they are so devastated by the daunting experience that they hang up their shoes after one bitter competition.They simply could not take the stress and strain. They then return to their social dancing club.

The undaunted and the more aggressive competitors enter into PHASE TWO of competitive dancing after their initial brush with battle scars and undeterred by the pain and agony of wounds inflicted on them in PHASE ONE. It is quite likely that these competitors have managed to achieve encouraging results in the competitions.

PHASE TWO
PHASE TWO is a period of disillusion and bitter disappointment. It is also characterised by depression and disenchantment.The idolatry and dedication begin to wear off slowly. The commitment to the school diminishes gradually. The separation from the umbilical cord commences. Disagreement with the teacher creeps in.

Loyalty becomes divided and there is a subtle detachment from the teacher. His words are no longer the gospel truth. The novice student begins to drift to greener pastures.

This is also the SEARCHING PHASE . Many good competitors are head-hunted and many good teachers become heavily booked. Teacher-hopping becomes rampant and the competitors start playing musical chair from school to school. These changes are inevitable as the competitors themselves become more exposed to international competitions.

It is also an eye-opening phase. The competitors are now more aware of other teaching techniques. They are now better informed and more experienced and discerning. Their knowledge of ballroom dancing also increases and they have access to many good teaching and demonstration tapes. They begin to discover many things themselves.

This is also the CHANGING PHASE.Many competitors move around, frantically hunting for the ideal teacher to improve their competitive edge. This is also a phase of greater animosity and antagonism. As students drift to other teachers and schools,animosity grows. Inter-school rivalry develops and becomes intensified.

This is also a sad period as competition results become affected. Winning a competition becomes the most important criterion to judge a good dance teacher. The dance floor becomes a battle by proxy. The competitors are just pawns.

At this stage,the students can only take part in certain competitions highly recommended and approved by the teacher for his own selfish reasons,one of which is certainly a higher chance of winning. All these stresses and strains cause cracks and fractures in the couple’s relationship. Squabbles and petty misunderstandings give rise to outbursts on the dance floor and rancorous exchanges in bed, if they are married.

It is the most painful period for a competitive couple, each blaming the other for the poor performance or disappointing results on the dance floor. It is the beginning of a rift in the dancing partnership. Sometimes, the quarrels can be so intense that the couple decides to split ( married couples included.)

A new partnership is formed and this new relationship also goes through the same trials and tribulations. Changing partners is like changing clothes. Like fashion,it catches on quite quickly round the world ! This sort of human drama can be seen anywhere. Blackpool, the Mecca of Ballroom Dancing of the World, is a glaring example.

Every year, the battle to become the world’s best dancers gets more ruthless and more heated.Partners are sorted and exchanged to get the best fighting combination and the cutting edge to be included in the world’s best dancers. This is a tragic result of competitive dancing where the pursuit for excellence and the thirst for glory and fame can have dire consequences to an otherwise beautiful and loving partnership.

PHASE TWO is what I term a DISASTROUS PHASE. PHASE THREE is a period of consolidation and maturity.It is characterised by self-control,magnanimity and a better understanding of the politics of competitions. Winning ceases to be an obsession. To participate in a competition becomes an enjoyment and the couple dances happily and freely.

Some couples,when they reach PHASE THREE,retire gracefully. Many turn professional and become teachers. Others continue to compete, but in a more relaxed mood.They become less intense, less combatant and less belligerent.

PHASE THREE

PHASE THREE couples are now more independent. They may or may not be attached to any particular school or subscribe to any fixed philosophy.They are free to wander and seek the teachers of their choice. They have no fanatical attachment to any particular teacher or blind loyalty to any dancing school. In short, they have matured and become autonomous.

The most rewarding thing about PHASE THREE couples is the fact that the partnership is still intact. They have weathered through the storms and realised that it is utterly stupid to break a relationship just for the sake of dancing. They are now more prudent, sensitive and understanding.

They may or may not achieve any results on the dance floor, but they can still hold their heads high with pride and confidence, knowing very well that their partnership is still going strong despite all the furore PHASE THREE couples are stable couples with at least five years of competitive dancing experience.

They can still have sporadic hiccups in their relationship but these little cracks are quickly detected and speedily healed. They no longer allow dancing to affect their partnership and they strive to achieve good ratings without sacrificing too much of themselves.

So,are you prepared to go through these THREE PHASES of Competitive Dancing ? If you are not prepared,hang up your dancing shoes and head for the nearest pub or disco. Forget about competition. You will not regret it. On the other hand,not all competitors go through all these phases.

Some sail through the competitions without any mishaps and they still maintain their lovey-dovey partnership.They endure and they perserve.They keep their partnership intact.They work hard and achieve good results. Kudos to all of them ! So, do you still want to compete ..........? Happy Dancing and Good Luck !

This article was published on Wednesday 16 July, 1997.
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