A ballet competition brings to mind images of well-rehearsed performances, intense master classes, and personal connections between the dancers and faculty. As a participant, you might find yourself visualizing all of these exciting components as you prepare your mindset for the big day. But what you might not picture right away is what comes at the end of the event: receiving your score and feedback from the judges.
For some dancers, facing the reality of the judges’ opinions can feel like a challenge at first, but there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your results. Here’s what we recommend when it’s time to analyze your score and examine the feedback:
Remember that the judges are seeing the whole picture of your dancing from a completely new point of view that is all their own. While judging, they are likely asking themselves, “What will be most useful for this participant to comprehend about their dancing, and how can I best convey this advice?” Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how your performance looked to them.
If you are not already familiar with a “growth mindset,” there is no better time than now to learn! A growth mindset means you understand that learning and improvement is always possible; there is no limitation to your ability to do better than you’ve done before. Choose to see your competition results through this lens, so you can continue to fine tune your strengths and improve the areas that need improvement.
When sharing the judges’ comments with your coach, ask what they might agree or disagree with. With an open mind, you might hear slightly different feedback and that’s OK! Opinions in ballet are always going to have a bit of subjectivity because every teacher, coach, faculty member, or judge comes from a different background. Your coach knows you well and can help you interpret the judge’s scoring more personally.
Find the balance between using the feedback as a helpful tool and moving forward to your next objective. Don’t allow yourself to become obsessed about one score or comment. Instead, absorb what will be helpful and filter out the rest so you can freely step into the new goals you set. You want to have a clear mind and a confident focus by the time you participate in your next event.
Don’t forget that part of your motivation for performing at a ballet competition is to achieve a score so you can grow as a dancer. At the US Prix de Ballet, for example, only the most respected and experienced ballet masters judge our participants, so their high-level professional commentary is a major part of the reason dancers attend.
One of the most valuable aspects of your participation is receiving this feedback from experts in the field. Even if you disagree with the judges, remember that follow-up questions or clarification on scoring are not appropriate. Accept your score with grace, study it, and use it to your advantage!