Ever since dance competitions and conventions have appeared throughout the country, negative opinions have followed in their path. Art enthusiasts tend to find the convention scene un-artistic and resembling an athletic event; they believe that art cannot be scored. However, when you stop and think about the experiences and exposure that convention and competition bring, personally, I can’t help but take the opposite view. Dance competitions allow young aspiring jazz dancers to develop connections, study various styles, and provide performance experience all within a two day to one week span of time. From personal experience, I believe that dance competitions and conventions help to enhance a young jazz dancer’s knowledge and experience.
Dance competitions provide opportunities for young jazz dancers to make connections in the field. They are exposed to faculty members who are legends in the jazz world both as choreographers and dancers. Faculty members range from, Broadway choreographers to music video performers. Young jazz dancers also have a chance to meet hundreds of dancers who are reaching for the same dream, people who most likely will be seen in future auditions. Dance conventions allow students who may not be able to afford professional training to meet successful people in the business.
Convention classes allow young jazz dancers to attempt and be exposed to various styles of jazz. Students may be exposed to five different combinations a day ranging from hip-hop to jazz to contemporary jazz. Students, who cannot afford year round training with professionals, can bring what they learn back to their home studio to perfect. The competition scene also allows on stage experience of various styles where jazz dancers can observe and learn from their peers. In the competition scene, young jazz dancers may perform possibly up to ten dances of all a different styles in one night. This results in a diverse amount of on stage experience.
Dance competitions have helped to commercialize the jazz world as well. Jazz dance is now more popular than ever, thus the public is better informed. More jobs and opportunities come as a result. Shows like So You Think You Can Dance have helped spark other dance shows such as America’s Best Dance Crew. Who are the contestants on these shows; and who are the judges? Most often, the contestants and judges are members of the competition and convention scene. It is all about connections.
Personally, I have met many famous people in the jazz world through the dance competition and convention scene. I have become close with figures filled with connections like Joe Lanteri and Joe Tremaine. In addition, I have been exposed to iconic figures in the jazz world like Liza Minnelli. I have had a chance to work with and perform pieces for practically all of the judges on So You Think You Can Dance. The majority of the contestants happen to be my peers from the jazz convention scene. Dance competitions provided me with the joy of performing for many weekends throughout my jazz studies as well as experiences I will never forget.