Joel and Clara Marasigan

Dance Pacifica 2009: Where Have All the Competitors Gone?



Dance Pacifica was held last weekend in Victoria, BC.  For those of you who don’t know, it is one of two DanceSport competitions held on Vancouver Island during the late Spring and early Summer.  The Victoria Ballroom Dance Society, which is an organization made up of volunteers and ballroom enthusiasts, do a great job of putting it all together.  This year, the event hosted the regular slate of Amateur competitions, as well as a Professional Showcase by Canadian Latin Champions, Andre and Natalie Paramonov.  Unfortunately though, attendance was quite low.

I wonder why more people didn’t attend Dance Pacifica this year.  I would have loved to see more competitors in each of the syllabus events, as many of them only had 3-4 couples entered.  The Open Standard was not too bad, with 8 couples battling it out, but the Open Latin, sadly enough, had only one couple entered and was therefore uncontested.  Where are all the competitors these days???

Dinner at Milestone's

Dinner at Milestone's

I guess I shouldn’t be one to talk, as I haven’t actually been to Dance Pacifica in years.  Even when I was competing as an Amateur, I found it tough to make it out there, as each year the date was set very close to the Blackpool Festival.  Joel and I would be so tired and jet-lagged from training in London the month before, that by the time the week of the festival was over and we made the long trek back to Vancouver, we were wiped!  So I certainly understand those dancers who are in no condition to compete after Blackpool, but as far as I know, there were only a handful of competitors who took the pilgrimage to England this year.  Where was everyone else?

Do people just not want to travel and go the extra distance?  Victoria is such a beautiful place to visit… I don’t see why not!  Personally, I had a great time in our Capital city; had dinner on the outdoor patio at Milestones, went for a nice run the next morning on the sea wall, had some fresh fish for lunch at the Red Fish Blue Fish stand with a bunch of my students, and enjoyed the sun and fresh air on the ferry ride home.  It was like a much needed mini-vacation, which cost me only a fraction of what it would have cost to go away anywhere else!  Like many of the competitors did, carpooling to and from Victoria and sharing accommodations kept the costs down considerably.

The ferry ride

The ferry ride

Maybe people don’t want to go to the Island, because they know that the competitions will be small events.  I think that’s definitely the wrong attitude!  What people have to realize is that whether big or small, competitions are one of the most valuable lessons to be learned for competitive dancers.  You need to get out there to improve your skills.  Why are you dancing anyway?  Are you dancing for a big audience?  …to win the trophy?  …to beat other people?

What I’ve learned over the years is that your goal should be to dance for yourself.  Luca & Loraine always taught us to dance for ourselves, rather than for something that is out of our control (like judges or other couples).  If you give every last drop of focus, determination, and emotion to your own dancing, hopefully, in turn, the audience and the judges will have no choice but to reward you.

Me and my Pre-Bronze & Bronze students!

Me and my Pre-Bronze & Bronze students!

As one of my students once said to me (which I couldn’t have said any better), “My stiffest competition is myself!”  And in fact, because he is such a high achiever, he added, “And I keep coming in second!”  Hahaha!  I’ll never forget that!  I was much the same.  It didn’t matter whether it was a small competition that I knew I would win, or a big competition that I knew I had little or no chance at.  I was competing against myself, and my success was measured not by results, but by whether I achieved the goals that I set for myself.

Now, as a coach, I try to instill these values in my students.  Even if it’s a small competition, I encourage all my students to attend.  I make sure that they go in with a goal in mind; something that we’ve been working on for the past few weeks.  That way, they are able to evaluate their progress and learn from it.  And if I’m there at the competition, that’s even more of a bonus!  To have your coach actually see you ‘in action’ and be able to provide you with feedback on how you performed is a very valuable learning tool.  (In fact, it is something that I often wished that I had when I was competing as an amateur.)

claraandmelSo the bottom line is… Go to the competitions!!!  Especially if your coach is going to be there!!!  It’s the best way to measure your progress and determine where to go from there.  Some of my biggest pet peeves are: “I’m not ready yet.” or “It’s just a small competition.”  So what?!?

Next year, when Dance Pacifica rolls around again, throw away all your excuses and get yourself out there!  Go and compete against your biggest competition: yourself, and at the same time, take a mini-vacation and enjoy the beautiful sights of our Capital city!

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