Dance Execs- Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to a new series on our blog, Dr. Marcie & Dance. Dr. Marcie Beigel is a Behavior Therapist that I met through the Dance Exec Seminar in NYC. She knows her stuff and is passionate about sharing her knowledge. We brainstormed hot topics in the dance world and will be providing you with insight, methods, and knowledge to share with your students, parents, and staff. 

Winning & Losing

By: Dr. Marcie Beigel

Within the four walls of each dance studio, small dancers are taught technique and discipline.  Each day, you are teaching dance steps and combinations and routines.  Woven into your directions for a great pirouette are life skills.  Between the counts for the tap routine are ideas about how to pour hard work into a dream.  Be intentional with the messages you are teaching your dance students!

What message are you conveying to your students about winning and losing?  As we are at the high point for dance competitions and recitals are just around the corner, here are some behavioral ideas for graceful winning and losing.

Teach about the journey!  When talking about dance competitions, don’t focus on the trophy at the end.  Make the journey the message.  Talk about the dance techniques they need to practice, ensuring the costumes and music are just right, and the joy of being on stage.  Focus on the effort each student needs to exert to shine.  Mention the decision by the judges as one piece among many other important elements that make a successful event.

Once the awards are handed out, talk about the lessons learned for your students.  If your students won, be excited and celebrate.  As part of the celebration, talk about what they did to help win and talk about what they could do better next time.  If your students lost, celebrate with them for the effort they put forth.  Talk about what they did wonderfully and what they could do better next time.  For wins and losses, find the lessons and teach them.  The lessons should be specific and action based, things like stretching the feet or straightening arms or coordinating timing in specific moments of the routine.  Avoid generic statements like “try harder” as they have a different meaning to each individual.

Once the event is over, let it be over.  Don’t hold onto the win or loss and talk about it for weeks to come.  On to the next exciting event in your dance world!  Retain the lessons learned and incorporate them in your next teaching lessons.  For example, if your dance students had weak arms at the event, in your next class discuss and focus on arm positions.  Don’t remark that this is because of a previous loss, you all already know that and consistent reminders are not productive.  Simply emphasize it as part of your lesson and teach your students to pay attention to their arm positioning.

Make a clear philosophy about winning and losing.  Have it be a coherent message from all the dance teachers in your school.  Share this philosophy with the parents and ask them to support your positioning.  The parents could apply the same tactics at home.  When you send the information home to parents about competitions and recitals, include a page about winning and losing and how you will be focusing on lessons learned.  It will give them knowledge.  It will create a consistent message from all the adults in your small dancers life!

Happy Dancing

Dr Marcie

P.S.- There is a great post entitled Raising a Fantastic Loser on the Behavior and Beyond Blog– feel free to share it with your dance parents!


Dr. Macie Beigel has been working with children and families and professionals for over 15 years.  In that time she has earned her certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctorate, her Doctorate form Teachers College, Columbia University and New York State Certifications as a Special Education Teacher and Administrator.  Her experience ranges from teaching in classrooms to parent training to individualized therapy in her office to teacher development workshops to coordinating full programs for individual children.

For more information about Dr Marcie visit her website at