This statement may sound a little harsh, but it's true. If you take ballroom dance lessons and you don't compete in at least one competition, you will kick yourself later. Dance instructors hear every excuse in the book as to why you don't want to compete, but 99.9% of the time fear is the underlying reason. Of course competition can be a scary thing to do, especially the first time, but so was making the decision to take lessons. Remember how scared you were walking into the studio for the first time, or going to your first practice party? Yet, you did those things, and found out how much fun they were. You probably even wished you had started sooner. Let's go on a little journey, one that began when you first decided to become a dancer. 
Once upon a time, you saw an ad, had a friend invite you or simply made the decision to take your first ballroom dance lesson. Hooray for you! You accomplished the hardest step -- you walked through the studio door. You took your introductory special and decided you had made the right choice. You even went to a few practice parties. Why had you waited so long? This is so much fun! 

After a few lessons, your teacher asked you about your goals. What kind of a dancer do you want to be? You think back to some of the ladies and gentlemen you saw at the parties or on your lessons. Some of them were awesome, effortlessly flying around the floor with grace and poise during the Waltz and Foxtrot. Others may have been better in the Latin dances, using quick, sharp movements with lots of hip movement. You think to yourself as awesome as that would be, you could never be that good. So, you say that your goal is to become the best dancer possible. All the while thinking that being someone who is confident and comfortable in any social dance situation is the best you can do.

You come in for lessons and practice parties. Things are starting to click and you feel at ease on the dance floor. You've started asking people to dance instead of waiting to be asked. You've made some friends and are really feeling good about your dancing. Then, all of a sudden, your teacher is talking about competitions! What? 

"I didn't come to learn competitive ballroom dancing," you reply. And that's true, you didn't. 

You did, however, entrust your teacher with your dance education, and said your goal is to become the best dancer possible. One way to achieve your goal is to dive into a dance competition. The reason is simple, once you have made the commitment to compete with a deadline to perform, the entire experience of learning and practice changes. If you compare two students at the same level, taking the same number of lessons, one is preparing for a competition and the other one isn't; the one who is competing will learn 3-5 times as much as the one who isn't competing. Why? Because we accomplish more when we have goals, deadlines and purpose. 

You build your stamina at practice parties. You think more about your poise, posture and reaching your arms farther. You may watch the way one dancer twirls her fingers in a sexy way as she's dancing the cha cha, and how another stretches and moves her head during the waltz. You and your teacher chart out a schedule for lessons to prepare for the upcoming competition. Your lessons seem to have a purpose now. You find that you're learning more and you're receiving more compliments on your dancing. You become goal oriented; practicing at home, in the studio and even in the grocery store as you push your cart. In essence, you push yourself to achieve more. 

We seriously doubt that you decided to pursue ballroom dancing because you needed another activity to fill your dull and boring life. Most of us barely have time to watch the last Dancing with the Stars episode that's recorded on the DVR. Competitive dancing is an extracurricular activity that will help you enjoy your dancing more. It gives you the opportunity to improve, to be more confident and become the kind of dancer you dreamed of being when you started out. If you happen to win -- that's just a bonus.
 


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