Irish dancing is a competitive art form, some even call it a sport. As such, a certain amount of rivalry is inevitable among dancers.
Sometimes your rival is another student from your school. You are the same age and your dance skills and techniques are similar, you dance at the same studio and you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well. Other rivals might be dancers from other schools. You meet at feiseanna, you secretly follow their Twitter or Tumblr hoping they will post snippets of their new steps so that you can compare them to yours. You ask yourself, “Are their steps more difficult?”, “Does he/she execute them better?”, or “Is her dress going to be prettier than mine?” The point is you that are always comparing yourself to them.
It’s important to remember that these other dancers are people you share the same passion and interest with. You both work hard on achieving the same goal – to place as high as you can in the competition and to make your teacher and yourself proud. It’s very possible that you also like similar music, films or books. If you remove the competing out of the picture, you realize you have a lot in common and you could probably be great friends.
So why not be friends? If you are an Irish dancer you have probably seen the documentary Jig. The thing that impressed me the most about the film was the way the dancers talked about each other and even practiced some drills together minutes before they went on stage.
When you see your rivals triumphing, be glad. This should motivate you to push harder and become better so that next time you can be the one on the podium. Think of your competition as a goal you want to achieve. Don’t hate them because they are good, be motivated by their persistence and discipline.
There’s little joy in beating someone who is a significantly less skilled dancer than you are. Without challenge, you cannot improve. So by helping other, less skilled dancers, you are, in the long run, improving yourself.
And you both want the same thing: The ultimate goal isn’t to beat your competition, it’s to beat yourself! The real goal is to be better than you were last year, last month or even yesterday. Don’t hope for other dances to fail so that you can jump into their place, compare yourself to those better than you so that you can learn from them and become a better dancer yourself.
Photo credit: Image belongs to author.
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