Through my research, interviewing and field data I had not anticipated a change in my own thoughts and mind. With my focus being primarily on whether dancers require exams and competitions to help them towards a professional route, my eyes have been opened through conversing with other like minded professionals. I was aware of the benefits of exams; qualifications, technique, accuracy, structure, precision the list goes on...Competitions however contain so much more than I had ever considered. Yes, performance experience which is essential for auditions and professional work. I had not however thought about learning to take criticism, learning that you may not be liked by everybody and this all depends on that particular judge (as in auditions!), coping backstage with last minute changes, costume malfunctions, nervousness, mind blanks, vocabulary and terminology, being 'on the road' and travelling, working together as a team or coping individually, all are skills that are preparing you for an industry that requires all of these necessities to cope and succeed. They challenge the fight or flight mode within us where essentially we sink or swim and competitions and these types of performances challenge these aspects within our character. Therefore competitions allow for character building as well as performing in front of an audience and coping with this pressure. This journey has allowed me to consider the benefits of competitions in much more detail and I can say that I have learnt so much off my interviewees that has changed my perspective.
Via the Skype chat on Friday evening, I realised through conversing how many students are 'spoon fed' with material, choreography, ideas and thoughts to help them develop their own skills. It is now a challenge of mine to help my students move forwards in this area, to help them develop their exploration of movement and creativity to produce more rounded individuals as opposed to those that need to be given choreography (again, in an industry where freestyle is frequently required, this will help assist in a professional pathway). Again this also allows for opportunities to experiment with movements that perhaps we did not know they were capable of, it allows opportunity for them to demonstrate their ideas and what they feel they would be good at, enhancing enjoyment as well as encouraging our minds to think and work together to produce. I have perhaps been guilty of 'spoon feeding' due to time constraints and working under pressure for competitions and shows, but at the same time, I think it is important to help tomorrow's future of dancers to yes be good at what they do, but also to not be afraid of creativity and difference.