Is Competition Making You Less of an Academic Competitor?
By Cameron Hunt
Competitive Dance. It sounds manageable enough, right? But most people don’t know about all of the work that is put into dance behind the scenes. Imagine yourself in a dance studio, it’s ten o’clock at night and you have been there since five-thirty. You got off of the school bus at five and had to drive straight there, no dinner, no rest. You also have approximately two hours of homework that has to be done by tomorrow, a test, and an incomplete assignment waiting for you at home. You are surrounded by at least a dozen other kids your age and have been sweating it out for hours. Don’t get me wrong, you love what you’re doing, but your focus is placed on the piles of school work left for you to do.
Competitive dance is an amazing sport. It maintains the health and happiness of millions of people around the world, and is a great way to meet new people and make friends for life. But what some people don’t see is how demanding the sport truly is, and how it can affect the education of the dancers. Most competitive dancers miss school on more than one occasion for away or in-town competitions. Not being present at school is usually a difficult situation, especially when reaching the higher grades. When a student is absent they may miss a lot of important subject content, and risk falling behind the rest of the class. Being absent from school can affect how dancers perform academically either during tests, quizzes or just learning and remembering general information.
“I think that for certain students, being a competitive dancer means that they have to be very highly organized, and need to have very good time management skills, and so someone who is highly organized and good with time management, is generally able to stay on top of their course work,” explained Allison Blakley, one of the dance teachers from the Canterbury Dance Department.
“It means that those individuals are being proactive, they’re speaking to their teachers prior to missing school, and at times even teaching themselves the content. However for some students it might be the opposite,” she said. “For certain students it might be beneficial for them to be in class and have certain concepts explained to them. So I think that sometimes dancing competitively could affect the students academic grades, but it could go either way, it truly depends on the individual.”
I spoke with a friend from the Canterbury Dance Program about what her thoughts were about the correlation between competitive dancers and their marks. “When competition seasons starts, you have to make sure you are talking to all your teachers and informing them you're going to be missing,” says Mackenzie Wong, a dancer from the CHS Dance Program. “But no matter how much you stay organized, you're still missing valuable class time.”
“Whether it's your grades or stress levels, you are being affected by competition season.”
Whether it's your grades or stress levels, you are being affected by competition season.”
It seems as though the people I have spoken with have developed a pattern in thinking that competitive dancers are at a disadvantage when it boils down to their education, but one dancer I interviewed seemed to think otherwise. “I truly believe that competitive dancers are not at a huge disadvantage compared to the rest of the student body,” said Sarah Sadafi, a competitive dancer, and also an A+ student from Colonel By High School. “Competitive dance does consume a lot of time and does effect scheduling, when it comes to homework and such, but I think that if someone puts in a lot of effort and makes sure that they warn their teachers about future absences they will be able to catch up, and maintain a balance between their extracurricular and their school work” Sarah said when asked about the educational advantages and disadvantages of being a competitive dancer.
When I asked Bridgette Mccaw, a CHS dance student, as well as a competitive dancer, how she prioritizes dance and school, she remarked: “Being a competitive dancer is challenging because you do have to find that perfect balance between your essential work and your extracurricular, and it is difficult to prioritize school before something that I love so much. Sometimes I definitely do choose dance over school, but I think that it is crucial to decide what is most important to you, as an individual, and really look at what you’re doing closely and decide if it’s the right decision.”
As you’ve seen through this article, dancing competitively can definitely be a challenge, even an obstacle. You miss school, fall behind, and sometimes you even have to be your own teacher, but if it’s something that you love to do, that you couldn't cope without, then it is most certainly worth it.
Imagine yourself in a dance studio, It’s ten o’clock at night and you have already been there since five thirty. You got off of the school bus at five and had to drive straight there, no dinner, no rest. You also have piles of homework to do, once you get home, but you love what you’re doing, and that’s what matters...
As long as you can catch up.