Performance and Competition
Many young dancers will be interested in performing on stage, which is a great way to gain social experience, learn how to manage stage anxiety, plus develop discipline and improve technique. When considering performance or competition dance, be prepared for a time commitment. In addition to classes and practice, there will be time spent in rehearsal, as well as time spent helping to handle or make costumes and stage sets.
Dance provides a great opportunity for parents to support young performers through volunteering backstage. Be cautious to avoid analysis or criticism of the performance. It's easy to turn in to a "Stage Mom or Dad" without realizing it's happened. Instead, ask the dancer what they thought they did best or what they want to work on. Family support is the key to the emotional balance required in stressful performance situations.
During performance season, families may need to be flexible with academics and may need to travel as well. Family support is crucial to a young performer, which can be difficult for large families due to the cost of tickets. Families often handle this obstacle by having family members take turns attending dance events, or by bringing the whole family to the dress rehearsals, which are usually free.
Some kids thrive on healthy competition. Competitions can teach persistence, teamwork, discipline, and socialization. Luckily there are many such outlets for homeschoolers to compete in dance. Local studios are the best place to start finding out what is available in your area.
Most studios encourage healthy and positive competitiveness, but a parent will want to be aware of the tone and values of the studio. Keep in mind that competitive dance can involve substantial travel time and expense, so it's a good practice to network with other involved families for carpooling. Dance.net lists competitions for various dance styles across the country, many of which offer cash prizes or scholarships. For serious students of ballet, the Youth American Grand Prix is one of the most prestigious competitions with winners receiving scholarships and/or job offers to performance schools and ballet companies around the world.
For both performance and competition, summer camps are popular for intensive instruction and networking, but can be expensive. Reviews of summer intensives can be found through Dance magazine, for ballet students, and Dance Spirit magazine for jazz, modern and hip hop students.
Researching each program takes time; if you are working with a dance teacher, he or she will be a good resource. Most programs offer scholarships for talent and financial need, but even with these, parents will need to prepare budgets for travel, medical costs and shoes. A ballet dancer enrolled in a summer intensive can go through a pair of pointe shoes in a week!