Competition and Dance Education

By LaPointe-Crump, Janice | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Competition and Dance Education


LaPointe-Crump, Janice, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


For as long as I can remember, dance as an art form and the word "competition" are not spoken in the same breath. To do so cheapens dance, reducing it to a kind of crude commercialized combat. Artistic intention and expression are destroyed when dancers prepare tricks and a kitsch routine to win prizes. Art on the other hand is a free, open experience bound up in the uplifted thought and vivid emotion. Devoid of meaningfulness, competitions are incompatible with art.

Or are they? Young musicians are involved in local, state, and regional contests. Community theater actors and school drama students compete with scenes and cuttings of plays to receive awards and scholarships. The same is true for visual artists. In some states, school competitions are governed by education agencies. Competitions are a fixture in American arts education, except for dance.

I urge dance educators to reconsider the long-held antagonism about this issue. In light of the evolution of dance competitions and the way judging functions, a contest may spur students to go beyond technical skills and raw talent to artistically move hearts and minds. Additionally, students may be seen by university and company scouts.

Let us begin with the word itself. The Latin root of "compete" is competere, meaning "to seek or strive together" (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). Competitive dancing is a sport, a category of dance, in which contestants endeavor to do their best by performing beyond what the experts expect.

We herald those who have been acknowledged by a respected body. Fernando Bujones and Mikhail Baryshnikov were proud to remind audiences that they won gold medals at the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Kurt Joos came to world attention in 1932 when his ballet, The Green Table, won first place in the Concours international de choregraphie, in Paris. After winning the USA International Ballet Competition (USAIBC) in 1990, Cuban dancer Jose Carreno, a principal with American Ballet Theater, said, "My life changed. From there everything started to cook" (USAIBC, 2007).

Think about the dancers and choreographers whose careers were celebrated and heightened when they received the Kennedy Center Honors. If you have run for office, been a finalist in a job search, or auditioned for a company, you also embarked on a romantic journey centered on striving to be the best, the first among many.

Competition and Performance

When dancers step onstage, they compete in a unique world. In this world, dancers exhibit themselves for the attention of the audience. Viewed in this way, the exquisiteness of their embodied performance invites appreciation and evaluation. What an audience feels and understands is not controlled solely by the dancers but results from an interpretation within the context of the dance and the venue. This is the dancer-viewer connection.

I agree that when performing in a contest, dances are crafted to demonstrate technical and artistic prowess within the aesthetic and judgmental construct of the competition, which includes the dancers' imagination, abilities, musicality, and energy. Here the dancer-viewer connection is specialized. Adjudicators' opinions are negotiated within the context of a panel. The viewpoint is respected not only because it is final but because judges are seasoned professionals, perhaps even former competitors and winners.

Competition in dance already exists in studios. Teachers evaluate students' performances during the course of a lesson. Students accept criticism, being compelled to improve through our direct interaction with them. Whether evaluators or teachers, we hope to make a difference in dancers' lives and contribute to the art form.

In tracking the interaction of judges on the latest reality television shows, Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance?, I was reminded of the similar ways in which educators and judges encourage, monitor, and challenge growth over time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Competition and Dance Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.