Everyone wants to know how to get noticed on the dance floor. Dancing aside, there are other ways increase your presence out on the floor. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll find having good public relations is a necessity to success and will take you far. Dancers are no different, as not only is it helpful to be known to judges and other competitors for the sake of your competitive results, but being recognized opens up doors of opportunity and plants seeds for networking in the future.
At the onset, I want to make a disclaimer that although many a dancer has grumbled that others have advanced ahead of them strictly due to politics (and sometimes this is true), I am of the opinion that in the end, generally champions are at the top due to the merit of their accomplishments and not due strictly to their popularity or the influence of their advocates. However, if you find that you are getting lost in the herd, maybe bringing up your visibility with some good PR will give you a boost of noticeability, helping to set you apart as you continue to improve your dancing.
People are drawn to those they are familiar with. It’s just a fact! In a sea of faces, those you are most quickly to recognize are those you’ve seen before. So, it goes without saying that if you want to be seen, you must be see-able. That means “face time”, giving judges the opportunity to see you even when you are off the floor. In fact, they may see you even better off the floor, when they are more relaxed without the pressure and concentration of judging an event. Get to know these people, as not only are they judging your event, but they are also coaches and former dancers themselves and have a lot of valuable information to share.
Most judges are happy to spend a few moments answering a question or providing feedback about your dancing or their general thoughts on the state of the competitive field. But be careful in your approach-nobody likes a bootlicker or to be buttered-up. The best way is to attend the dance competition and catch one of the judges when they are off duty. Introduce yourself and ask if they have a moment before you ask your question. It’s best to have something specific in mind like “I noticed you gave us the highest marks in the tango; what do you think was better about the dance than our others”, or “We’re just starting to do better in the Rising Star, but not getting very far in the Open. What stands out to you about the current crop of Open competitors?”.
(Remember it is unprofessional for a judge to discuss an event in which the result has not yet been announced, so be sure that your question is one that they will be able to answer.)
Limit the questions you ask to one or two, so the judge doesn’t feel trapped or annoyed, and then thank them for their time. Be sure the next time you see this judge to say hello, even if it’s just in passing. Don’t hound the same judges with a question each time you see them, but if some time has passed, you could follow up with the previous question you asked (have they noticed an improvement in the suggestion they gave you), or with a new question.
A second benefit is that the more you get to mingle with these people, the more your name might turn up in conversations and now interest in you will start to rise. This is why it’s also good for your competitors to see you. Once your face starts to turn up often, your competitors will start to take notice of you, either changing their opinion of you to a serious opponent who is on the rise, or by seeing you as a threat to their placement even now. This is good! You can still be friends (friendly) with all your competitors, but it helps your position by placing doubt in their minds. This is what competition is all about!
But as always, be polite, cordial and nice. You never know when you are networking the far-reaching results it may have. It could be that the couple you are fiercely competing against splits and you want to dance with the now partnerless dancer, or maybe a once lowly up-and-comer becomes a champion or judge. So, be nice!
Even if you are not competing at an event, it is beneficial to show up and be seen. This is especially true if you are looking for a partner. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. If you are on a partner search, coaches are more likely to refer someone who they see as serious, determined and active. So, be sure to attend the competition, especially to watch the events you would be dancing in, and talk with the competitors (you never know when a partnership might dissolve), judges and coaches. Don’t forget about the vendors too. Many of them are fixtures in the dance world, attending numerous events all over and are friends and confidants to many dancers. They are sometimes up on the very latest movements in the business and might just know who is looking for a new partner.
Be careful about taking lesson with a judge or popular coach just to curry favor with them. This can ultimately backfire. Perhaps this person is influential, and you take a few lessons with them in the hope of scoring points, yet you do not like their teaching. Depending on the person, when you decide to stop taking the lessons, they might be insulted and their influence could now work against you. It’s best for your dancing and for the integrity of your reputation to determine who you work with based on other factors. For more information on choosing your coach, click here. That being said, if there is a judge who’s work and couples you truly do admire and you believe will help your dancing, by all means start working with them.
Nowadays, you can also build your profile in the dance world with social networking sites, such as Facebook. Send a friend request to a judge, coach or competitor and chances are they might just add you to their network. If they’ve accepted your request, you can start a slow and casual online acquaintanceship (note: do not stalk or bother!!!), and then go about with asking a brief question every once in awhile, as mentioned above. Being online opens your ability to interact with such a great many more people, as geography is no longer a hindrance. When you go to a competition, you may just end up knowing many more faces simply by having met online. Remember, the more familiar your face is, the more you’ll be noticed on the dance floor.
Putting yourself out there with a few simple steps will do wonders to increasing your noticeability. Be active, be friendly, take the initiative, and before you know, you’ll find your star rising.
With her husband Erik, they are the founders of DanceSport Place and have a passion to help dancesport competitors reach their dancing goals.
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