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Can dance and competition get along together?

The majority of pre-adolescent and adolescent kids ask me this question almost every day and they don’t really understand my hesitation. I want to make clear that this feeling is absolutely normal, everything around them is about competition: you sign up for basketball, and then you have matches every weekend, whether you have chosen it or not. Not to mention football or rhythmic gymnastics, there is no room for enjoyment, everything is about competing, being better than the others and show off. A bit sad I guess, at least according to my vision of life. I prefer to replace the word competition with exhibition.

But let’s go back to the dance. Dancing is an art, like painting, sculpture or writing books, and I’m not aware of competitions in these sectors, sometimes they try but the judgments are so personal that you can not dictate any rule. A work of art may excite, inspire, illuminate, disgust … or leave you indifferent. You can focus on the technique, but a dancer can be perfect and still not able to transmit any emotion. Or can make you cry with just a glance or a slight movement of the body.

Then there are certain types of dances which are tailored for competitions (because they are regulated), such as ballroom dancing. But this is not our case.

So let’s talk about hip hop and hip hop competitions. Let’s take a closer look.
Hip hop is a cultural movement born in the United States and is characterized by four elements: breakdance, rap, graffiti and turntablism (DJs who not only play music but create and manipulate songs). Without going into details, or talking about Gangsta Rap and West Cost hip hop, we can say that this culture reflects an urban and vindictive style, having its origins in the oppression experienced by African-Americans in the 70s. Why do I say this? Because hip hop represents rebellion, protest, struggle … against the system or against other gangs. Do you see the nexus? Hip hop seems born to compete, to make that one person or a group confront the others. Dancing or rapping, have you ever heard about the “battle of the roosters”?

I love hip hop culture: I’ve been part of a rap duo and I’ve had an hip hop dance group for years. Each month we competed against other groups, it was so challenging and exciting … until we got tired. Suddenly the magic ended. We didn’t find any meaning or satisfaction in competing against other people anymore, rather we began to compete against our own limits, and it was there when I realised the true meaning of dance. I returned to my beloved jazz and contemporary, without leaving hip hop, but considering it only a part of me.

Dance means expression, freedom, creativity, not competition.

I’m sorry to say so but these “fighting contests” only aim to make money by taking advantage of a bunch of kids (I was one of them) and their parents. Does it sound rude? I don’t want to criticize anyone, but it’s what I think; I won’t cheat myself only to please people or possible new students.

Dance belongs to the stage, with an exited audience who is watching and living what the dancers are sharing: love, hate, passion, frustration, beauty, hope … dancers work together, not against each other.

Dance means union, not division. There are no winners or losers, only souls moving the magic of the world. Do you still want to compete or focus on your first Musical?


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