BY: MAY B. ANYDANCER, Feis America Magazine contributor

In the heated spirit of the upcoming North American Irish Dance Championships, here are a few friendly reminders for dancers and parents on being a good sport through the thick and thin.

Snap back from slip-ups.
A detached cape. A bump on stage. Things pop up. It’s how you bounce back from a snafu that shows you’re a star sport.
Dancer dos: We’re not just taught to dance with grace and poise, but to apply it to every facet of our lives. Let the aggression out on stage, but don’t take the little—and uncontrollable—things out on others. Anyone in the audience, as well as the adjudicators, can easily sense animosity. So no matter how upset you might be, graciously wish your fellow competitors well and fight back the tears. They never look good on anyone.
Parent pointers: No matter what happens on stage, it’s important to instill a sense of perseverance, not shame. Something as simple as saying, “I’m proud of you,” will keep a dancer’s mind focused on the big picture and all the hard work they’ve done leading up to a competition…not the few minutes that just happened.

Seize results. Everyone can agree, awards ceremonies are the scariest part to any competition. But face it, once the dancing is done, it’s out of your hands.

Dancer dos: For any dancer faced with the recall rounds, why not make a quick exit from the ballroom to compose yourself before the big announcement. You didn’t get the results you wanted? Keep that idea of luck at the front of your mind. Just think of those who weren’t able to partake in such a prestigious event. A champion is a champion, no matter the placement.

Parent pointers: Parents, much like a dancer’s TCRG, have a responsibility to teach their dancers. Instead of reiterating what they could have done better that day (they probably already know), stay supportive no matter the outcome. Teach them the importance that shaking hands or posing for a picture with the winner is far better than storming off.

Lead by example. Dancing helps people grow as athletes. But having good sportsmanship is what defines every individual as a true champ.

Dancer dos: Remember, eyes are on you at all times. And that includes the little ones who want to be a champ like you one day. Your game face isn’t just for when you’re on stage, but whenever you’re representing your school. Just think of the champions you looked up to when you first started and how they acted.

Parent pointers: Remind your child to be pleasant and let them know that every dancer has their day. It’s easy to feed off the body language and attitude of others, so remaining calm will help your dancer do the same.

Keep working. Dancing is an ongoing journey of uncertainty. You might win a competition one weekend and not place the next. Keeping a tirelessly mindset of always wanting to improve will keep you going.

Dancer dos: There’s always room for tweaking—in your dancing and your outlook. You didn’t dance as well as you wanted? Channel your frustration into working an extra hour next week perfecting your steps. You’re on a winning streak? Take that natural high of success to push yourself that much further on trying to stay on top.

Parent pointers: Keep thinking of ways to keep your child interested and inspired. Let them show you new steps or moves and get excited for them. Remember, half of the excitement of a win for many dancers is making their parents proud.

Photo Credit: Alexa Crisa

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