Tiffany Wrightson – June 2014

What a wonderful performance our students gave for us at our annual studio concert on 15 Jun!  Our dancers continue to improve every year and I am consistently so proud of their achievements.  Congratulations to all performers!

CSTD Competition Season is upon us, and we’re excited for our 38 selected soloists who will be participating in the Singapore Solo Competitions on 4 & 5 Jul 2014, and our 83 young dancers who will be competing in the Asia Pacific Competitions from 28-31 Aug 2014.  Come support them at NAFA and Kallang Theatre respectively!  Our dancers have been practising very hard, and we are very proud of the dedication and commitment they have shown.

Winning GracefullyOf course all competitors want to win, and we hope all our competitors will receive the awards that they so deserve.  The CSTD Competitions award 1st placing, and sometimes 2nd placing, and 3rd placing and one or two Honourable Mentions (H.M.) in each of the competition sections, depending on the number of competitors in the section.  As in all competitions, some will place, and usually more will walk away without an award.  Some children will take their winning (or not) in their stride, and some will take it harder.

There are many good articles on the web about helping our children learn to win and lose gracefully.  However, many of these focus on games or sports where winning and losing are determined by who was faster, stronger, higher, or who scored more goals or collected most points, and some game-time luck.  Dance competitions, on the other hand, are more subjective, as there is usually only one adjudicator determining the performance scores and placings. More often than not, the competitors do not see all of the performances of their fellow competitors, so competitors will inevitably feel judged to be not good enough when they do not receive the placing they think they deserve.

 

Here is how we prepare our young competitors to stay confident in their abilities:

1.  We focus on their effort and attitude from day one.  Our goal is to help our dancers become the best dancers and persons that they can be.  We believe that reinforcing good effort and positive attitudes builds self-confidence. It matters more that the student is improving year after year, than it does to receive a prize.

2.  We give them continuous feedback on areas that they can work on to strengthen their performance.  Our dancers know instinctively where they could have kicked higher, stretched further, held longer, or performed with more energy and/or expression.

3.  We help them understand that the results only reflect one person’s view.  Adjudicators are all highly skilled professionals who are trained to apply the same standards across the world. However, given the high level of dancing by the competitors, there will inevitably be some subjectivity. One judge may favour expression, while another favours excellent feet.

4.  We instil hope for the future, and point out older dancers who did not win in his / her initial years, but continued to put in hard work and eventually placed in subsequent years.  These examples set by our senior dancers are the best stories to inspire hope in our younger dancers.

 

Despite these preparations, it is only natural for a young dancer to feel disappointed if the results do not go his / her way.  Here are a few tips for us as parents, teachers, and nurturers to encourage them to respond in a positive way:

1.  Allow them to express their disappointment.  It’s ok and natural for some to cry – let them do so, and there is no shame in doing so in front of others.  However, watch out for the manifestation of disappointment as anger, contempt, or violence, which are unhelpful ways of coping with disappointment.  If the child begins to put others down, draw their attention back to their real emotion of disappointment by asking “Are you disappointed that you did not win?”.

2.  Acknowledge their disappointment, keeping the tone positive.  Instead of saying “It’s okay” (because to the child, it probably isn’t), say “I sense you’re disappointed about the results, but you danced really well in a very difficult section today!”

3.  Model good sportsmanship for your child.  If there is no reason to suspect unfairness in the judging, resist your temptation to tell the child “You should have won!”.  Instead help the child learn how to see things from others’ perspective: “The judge must have had a hard time deciding the winners – everyone was so good.”; and how to celebrate other people’s wins: “Let’s go congratulate your team mate.”  If you really feel something was amiss in the adjudication, then be prepared to model for your child how to follow the due process to raise concerns respectfully.

 

We are proud that our winners have always been gracious in winning, they do not gloat or boast.  Perhaps, one thing our children can be more comfortable with is allowing themselves to fully receive the acknowledgement of others and fully acknowledge their own achievements when they win.

Celebrating victoryDoes your child shy away when someone congratulates him / her?  Practise with him / her how to say a simple and clear “Thank you”, and encourage them to show their joy.

Does your child feel conflicted that they won but their team mate did not?  Acknowledge them for the empathy that they are displaying, and reaffirm your pride and their own pride in their achievement.  If your winning child feels a strong need to comfort a disappointed team mate, share with them that the best comfort may not come from words, but from a reassuring arm around the shoulder, a held hand, or a warm authentic smile.

Celebrate their achievement and remember to tie it back to their effort and hard work, if you want your child to internalize the value of hard work and participation.

 

Winning and losing are part and parcel of life.  Whether it is a dance competition, a sporting event, or a business deal, sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t. Dance competitions are a great way for our children to develop their competitive edge, while learning to both win and lose gracefully.

We wish all our young competitors the best in the upcoming CSTD competitions!

Go team Jitterbugs!

 

Ms Tiffany

June 2014