When dancers learn new steps, they often want to compete with them right away. New steps are exciting to learn, and they’re usually more difficult than older material. A lot of dancers believe that newer, harder steps will earn more points from the judges.
However, that’s not necessarily true. Steps themselves don’t win medals; the way you dance your steps wins medals. Judges want to see certain things from your steps when you compete:
The judges want to see you do your steps correctly all the way through. If you forget your steps, get your feet mixed up, hesitate in the middle, or make an obvious mistake, you will place below dancers who did their steps cleanly. You want to choose steps for competition that you can do correctly under pressure.
Getting off the music is one of the quickest ways to lose points. If you’re having trouble getting your newer steps on the music right now, choose an older step that you know you can dance on the beat.
Yes, it’s fun to learn new moves, and it’s important to master difficult techniques. But if your rocks, hop out downs, double back downs, etc look sloppy at the moment, you will lose points on them. For competition, it’s better to do moves that you can perform with style and grace.
If you do your steps correctly but look nervous or uncomfortable, you won’t place the way you want to. You need to choose steps for competition that make you feel–and look–fabulous.
Basically, a dancer doing easier steps well will place higher than a dancer doing harder steps poorly. So, when you’re deciding which steps to do for a feis, be honest with yourself and pick your strongest material.
At home, though, you should practice your newer, harder steps and moves until they’re perfect. The videos on Diddlyi in the Goals section under “Work on My Technique” are great resources for helping you improve those tricky new movements.
As soon as your new steps are as good as your old steps, you should compete with them. If two dancers have equally good execution, timing, and confidence, the dancer doing more difficult steps will place higher. So keep practicing every day! Your new steps will be ready to compete with before you know it.
Stay tuned for What Do Irish Dance Judges Look For? #2 from Ariel coming soon!
Photo credit: Barbara Cech
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