If your studio competes, you have likely encountered the dilemma of determining what competitions/conventions your studio will attend in any given season. As this year’s competition season is wrapping up, your mind is probably thinking about the events you will attend in the upcoming dance season. With new competitions and conventions arriving on the scene fairly regularly, there are many choices. As a Studio Owner or Competition Team Director, it is important you choose a well-rounded, seasonal experience that caters to the strengths and weaknesses of your dancers, and it is important that you plan your entire season in advance.

 So, how do you determine what will work best for your team? As you consider options, you want to consider the following factors: (1) what you enjoyed doing as a dancer/performer, (2) what works best for the demographic of your competitive team, (3) what events/activities your studio has enjoyed, (4) parent feedback, concerns, complaints, (5) professionalism of the event, and (6) locale of the event and cost. Each factor is important and should be considered in determining the best options for you and your team. After all, you and your dancers’ parents are investing a lot of time, money, and energy into these events. The experience should be a win-win for everyone.

The following factors are must-have considerations when selecting a prospective event:

  •  Educational Opportunity: What will your students learn at the event? How will it further progress their dance education?
  • Logistical Consideration: Is the event held at a nice facility? Will selecting this event be a good reflection on your brand?
  • Professionalism: Is the event professional?  How long as the event been establishment? Will you receive professional critiques, instruction, or some type of feedback?
  • Piece of the Puzzle: How does this event fit into the yearlong plan of your training program? Is it well balanced with other options?
  • Teacher Incentive: What does the event offer to benefit the studio? Classes, tuition discounts, networking etc. are all factors to consider. After all, you want the experience to be great for your students, but you also want it to be great for yourself and your business. (As a side note, some competitions offer rebates, which are a nice incentive, but events should not be chosen based solely on rebate opportunity.)

The following factors are red flags that are indicative that the event should not be considered:

  •  Lack of Constructive Criticism: Whether it is through audio feedback at a competition or via instruction at a convention, the event should, in some way, inspire your students. If your students leave without inspiration, awareness, or reflection, the event has not accomplished its mission. (For example, if a student receives a lower score at a competition but only receives the feedback “good job”, then the event has not helped your student.)
  • Poor Logistics: Is the facility run-down? Are your students dancing in areas that are less than ideal? If an event looks like it has cut corners in providing the experience, it probably has, which means you probably do not want to return.
  • Lack of Professionalism: At events, take note of everything that is happening around you. Are the staff members acting professional with all attendees, or does it feel as though favoritism is being shown? Are the critiques appropriate? Do the events run as though they are scripted, or does it feel like the event is “flying by the seat of its pants”? Parents notice professionalism, and you should, too. If is an event is unprofessional, it may be time to explore other options.

Once you have decided to make your event selections, do a quick cost-benefit analysis and make sure your students will be receiving a return for their investment. Ask yourself if you would be willing to spend the same amount of money for the same experiences.

Avoid choosing less than stellar events for the wrong reasons. Many Studio Owners pick second-rate competitions to attend because they perceive that they can “win” more, or their students will do better because a powerhouse studio may not be present. This notion is ludicrous! Challenge your students and expose them to the best.

At the end of the day, the events you select for your students are a direct reflection on you and your business. If parents and students leave an event pleased, they will applaud your selection. However, if students and/or parents have a negative experience, they will address those concerns with you because you serve as the liaison to the event.

Take the time to plan, scope out, and determine events that your clients will appreciate and enjoy. Your students and parents will respect your careful selection and will see that you are picking events based on the students’ best interests. Who can argue with that?

For more information on organization a competition or performance group, check out the Competition Team Info Guide.

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