Looking for advice: when do you throw in the towel?

In a recent competition, I thought that I danced reasonably well yet was annihilated by my judging panels. Totally devastated. Both my teacher and my coach thought that I danced well and didn't understand the results either. But a message was clearly being sent that the judges didn't like what they saw (or perhaps didn't see...).

Due to other obligations (financial and otherwise), I can only afford to compete a few times a year. However I'm starting to wonder whether it's worth it. It seems as though every time I compete, I'm up against different competitors, so I can't judge my progress against other ladies. And I'm questioning whether I have the ability/talent to make further competitions worthwhile.

Do any DFers use goals/signals that help them (or their students) determine whether to keep competing? I right now I feel like the loser kid everyone thinks, "if only someone would tell her...". :confused:


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pick your next comp after you see who the panel is....

if you are truly learning, you will have a pretty sound sense of both how you danced and whether the other ladies are near or above your skill level...not always but alot of the time...still, weird things happen and you just can't let things like that get you down...at least not for more than two weeks :)


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Let's make one thing clear here: because everyone responding has already chosen to participate in an online forum about dancing you're asking an audience that's self-selected to favor continuing to dance. You're hardly going to get unbiased opinion on this site.

But that's not a bad thing. By that same logic, everyone here who has had those doubts has overcome them. I can't speak for everyone on the site but I and every dancer I've ever talked to has had that thought. Many of us have had people, even supposed friends, telling us, "Why don't you just give up?" We've all had the experience of being outclassed, of not getting the results we wanted whether in performance, competition, or simply to our own standards. And we've come through. I don't say this to belittle what you're feeling but to reassure you that the doubt you're experiencing is normal. It doesn't mean you're a bad dancer, it means you're human.

At your next lesson, take a video of yourself dancing. Watch it. Then, whether you like what you see or not, look at a video of yourself from a year ago. You will notice a difference. Maybe not as much of a difference as you want there to be, but if you're putting in the work then you're improving. Should you give up because that improvement isn't at the pace you want? I can't answer that for you, though my advice is to keep going, but you - any "you" - can be a great dancer.


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well...here's my thing; quit because you are tired of dancing, quit because you can't afford it...but never ever quit because of someone else's estimation of your dancing


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I think everyone has those comps where the results are surprising, they are just part of the package deal of competing in dance! Don't place too much importance on the most recent comp's results... look at the overall picture of how you are dancing, placing and feeling.


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Agree. It does get really frustrating. And it does hurt. My standard partner and I have been dancing together since summer and have yet to receive a call back in silver, even though we have been improving every month. It really gets us down for a few days but we get right back up and practice all over again.

Don't give up hope. Go ahead and mope, eat lots of ice cream, watch tv, etc. and that should help you feel better. It always works for me! :)


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We don't compete, so can't relate personal experience. However, there was one person at former studio who was apparently praised-up by her instructor and taken to her first comp. She got slaughtered. She quit ALL dancing shortly after that.

Was that right? Wrong? Who knows? IMO, Piggles has to decide what's best for Piggles, regardless of what anybody says. Maybe just some time to reflect...


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Piggles, it is disappointing when we believe we've danced well and worked hard on our dancing to receive less than stellar results feedback. I know, I've been there and I think just about every competitor has been in that situation.

It sounds cliche now, you've probably heard it so many times, but it's true....you have to dance for your own satisfaction. We can't control judging, we can't control our competitors, all we can do is work on improving our own dancing and hope that it is coming through and trending in the right direction.

Judges have a matter of mere seconds to look at you in the semis and the rounds before...in the final they might get a couple more seconds to judge the couples and form opinions. This means, a good competitor must be very consistent in their dancing. Sometimes we are at a stage that we can dance well, but the judges can catch us at the right or wrong times. So judging panels aren't always the most qualified to "tell" you if you're doing better or not. You and your coaches are in the best position to tell that.

Piggles said:
I'm questioning whether I have the ability/talent to make further competitions worthwhile.
The question is - what does "worthwhile" mean to you in regards to comps? I personally use comps to spur advancement in my dancing. I also can only do a few comps a year, and I use them like a deadline to make improvements in my dancing. I also use them to gauge how well I am making progress in my goal to be able to convey emotion through movement to others under performance situations. Does that mean I go in not wanting to win? Nope.... I'm just as disappointed as the next person when I don't. But I get over that quickly and use it as a learning experience to keep advancing to my goals. It prompts me to review what needs work.

Does winning mean I've accomplished my goals?....NO!, but it's a nice motivator along the way if I can manage it.

Piggles said:
Do any DFers use goals/signals that help them (or their students) determine whether to keep competing?
It's tempting to, but no....you learn to go on despite not doing as well as we'd like.

Piggles said:
I right now I feel like the loser kid everyone thinks, "if only someone would tell her...".
Your dancing is yours....it does not matter what other people think of your quest. We all have moments when we let others influence our attitude toward our dancing, but really dig deep and remember why you wanted to go on this path....for me, dancing makes me feel alive.

It allows me to connect to myself and others in a very human way...I try not to let anybody's judgements interfere with that journey; after all, we're all on a quest to find out who we are and what our place is in life, so they have their challenges just as I have mine....
What I ended up getting from competition was not so much results but a chance to have a different measuring stick for my progress. When I only can compare what I do within my studio, I feel like I end up with a myopic view. When I go to competitions, there is a much broader group. So, it is a better picture of my progress. I try very hard to remember, it is not where I am, it is where I am going. Better is a process. There is a song, "it's not where you start; it's where you finish"

I would say something similar to Fascination -- slow down or take a break because of time; slow down or take a break because of money. I say, "don't quit". Stop, if you must, but don't quit.


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re nucat; and that is the thing....it is all relative...I can go to a comp where people are asking why I am still doing silver and I can go to a different one and not place in the top three (or win one year and not place the next) does that mean I didn't miprove?...I can go to a comp and win in open, I can go and not make the final in another...if you are going to blow smoke up your student, you have to make sure that you take them to a comp that will reinforce that...if you can't find one like that, you need to prepare them for what might happen...I have seen alot of that...or a student is used to doing only local comps in a non-competitive area...and then they go to a whopper comp and are totally unprepared for reality...it is one of the really tough lessons that comes early on....other times, hey, it might be the panel..or the dancing.... however good it felt, it just wasn't...that is why it is good to get a video a few times a year...to see if you can see progress


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I agree wholeheartedly with everyone here. I think most of us who compete have been here at one point or another, sometimes more than once. Use it as a chance to ask yourself why you are dancing and competing in the first place. To win? To improve? To show off? To have fun? Only you know the answer to that, and the only answer that matters is your own.
I too agree with everyone who posted here. I would also like to point out that it also happens to those like me who don't compete and have no desire to compete. I will be 70 years old March 1, of this year. I started taking group classes and a few private lessons about a year and a half ago as a retirement hobby. I thought a lot of times about quitting-but I was determined that I was not going to let a few twenty year old insensitive, condescending dance instructors run me out the door. Thus far with the help of instructional DVD's and one or two very good group class instructors, I feel like I an keeping right up with those 20 something year olds, who are by and large my group class dance partners.


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Eh, totally different answer. I am getting frustrated to the point of just refusing to compete unless we go someplace with more favorable judges (ie points farther east or judges coming from that direction.) Or just switching back to Standard--if I'm going to get my tail kicked I might as well do Quickstep while I'm at it, miserable as Int. FT will be. Like I'm not sure I see the point in going to Wisconsin unless there's a radically different panel, while when I had a mid-Atlantic judge on the panel at Harvest Moon she marked us well enough I jumped three places. It's not NP/the studio's fault; he's a fantastic teacher, I love dancing with him, my Smooth in particular is much better than it was (no fault of old Smooth Pro, I can't really dance well while also working 60+ hours/week) and they do fine with other students. Therefore, panels out here don't like something about me (that or I just have always sucked but they didn't want to offend RP and SP in New England.)

I truly do not care about internal progress--I'd rather dance poorly and win than dance well and lose. There ARE the two showcases, though was I steamed when they opted not to have a judge doing points or comments in the fall as unlike some people that's the part I like (audiences applaud anything) and I have a really good showcase this time. But what I loathe most about social dancing is the results-free aspect and unpredictability, so there's no fun in that.

But don't mind me, it's never wise to talk to me after bad results (it's taken a few years to even consider Standard as a viable option again, and then only because if I'm losing in everything what difference does it make?) It's just irritating to have another hobby I actually like that might not be worth the effort. At least I get to wear pretty dresses even if no one but my own studio peeps notice.
Thank you for all of your great responses! I think you've told me what I needed to hear: chin up, and remember why you *really* do this.

I have videos taken every 6 months or so: enough time to learn new technique and be able to dance it with a certain amount of consistency. And truthfully, I have made discernible improvements from last summer, so by all accounts I'm making progress in what matters most. I think one of the things that hit me hard is that I saw dancers I admire being beaten (sometimes) by those whose dancing I didn't always enjoy. But whos's to say the dancers I admire and look up to weren't having a bad day? Or at least a bad few seconds while the judges were watching?

In any case, thanks for all of your kind and gentle support. :)
At Danceronice: totally hear you. There were some events I placed first and last in depending on the judge! But I think it was Latingirl who pointed out that consistency is key with judges (sorry...on a portable device...can't check posts). And I know that I need to be more consistent: putting on a great show in one dance and then totally disappointing my judges in the next one only scores -ve brownie points.


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As I get more experienced, I notice that I have more consistency in my dancing, which means that my scoring does not have the huge variations between different judges. Not to say that I am always judged well, but usually the scores are fairly close, whereas when I first started my scores would be all over the place depending on a particular judge looking at me at a particular moment. Now I notice most judges agree within one or two placements where I should be. I attribute that to consistency throughout my dancing, which comes from more time spent out on the competition floor.
Totally agree with the consistency thing. I once did a comp where they did 2-dance events for Silver Smooth. We made finals for both... and ended up placing 1st in F/VW but 8th in W/T... lol.

Piggles, I'm going to offer another viewpoint. Taking a break is not always a bad idea. I'm currently on a break from competing too. It's mostly due to time and school commitments, but honestly a part of it was definitely because of what you're feeling now too. I felt I was just going from competition to competition, but not really learning and improving in the meantime. It got really frustrating and I knew I needed to take a step back.

Has it worked out for me? I think so. I had to let my partner go, which was a huge sacrifice to make, but I'm now back to taking lessons and learning for the sake of learning, not competing or winning, which is where I wanted to be. I'm still not ready to go back to competing right this moment, and finding a new partner would be hard... but I'm almost there and am starting to yearn competing again :)


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Reminds me of defending versus attacking. The attacker only has to succeed once. The defender has to succeed every time. You only need to be messing up in that moment when the judges are watching.

WRT results versus lack thereof... There are just different results. For me, when I was social dancing, the result was how much fun I had dancing, versus how much I messed up.

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