A: Keeping routines strong and fresh throughout a long competition season is always a challenge. At our studio, we start competing at the end of March and don’t finish until July if we do Nationals—meaning we keep running the same dances for more than five months.
To keep dances from getting tired, we video an initial stage rehearsal so that the dancers can see where they need to improve. Some of the competitions we attend record the judges’ critiques over the video of our routines. The students love watching these videos after each competition because they can really see the progress of a routine over the course of a season. Constantly revisiting each number via video also keeps everyone working hard and focused on the next competition.
We make sure to structure our competition season so that we have a two-week (or more) break in the middle, during which we hold a week of open classes, just to give everyone a change of pace.
Once we’ve finished all of our regional competitions, we make sure to have another break before we start working on our recital routines. Outside teachers come in during this break to teach class and rejuvenate the students. These open nonchoreography classes help a lot, because they offer the students something brand-new to work on.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.
Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman