Sam Nelson: Constructive Criticism
Handling the judges’ criticism can be tough. As dancers, one of the most important skills we need to possess is our ability to take corrections with a positive attitude. ‘Constructive criticism’ is a phrase we hear frequently, but very often disregard its true meaning. ‘Constructive’ means serving a useful purpose, and in this case (in the dance world), criticism means the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of an artistic work. Therefore, constructive criticism is an artistic analysis that serves a purpose.
That purpose for us is to listen with an open mind and apply the judges’ notes and comments to our dancing even if we at first disagree with what they say. The judges are professionals in the dance industry and we can learn a lot from listening to them.
This is how we improve our technique and performance ability, so it is critical that we never miss the opportunity to hear an audience’s observations.
As a performer, you should want to do the best.
You may come off the stage feeling like you did your routine perfectly, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive the score you were hoping for. Think of it as an opportunity for growth. There is always room for improvement in your technique and performance quality. As a performer, you should want to do the best you can every time you dance. Take the judges’ comments to heart and apply them to your dancing so that the next time you take the stage, you can score even higher!
Remember, the judges’ perspectives are subjective because they are interpreting art.
As a dancer, one of the most exciting things you can do is express yourself through your dancing. Listen to what the judges have to say and realize that everyone who watches you may interpret your artistry differently. When this happens, it is a good thing because it means you are reaching people differently and connecting with them emotionally as they watch you.
For me, at competitions/conventions, getting my solo critiques from the judges’ panel has become one of the highlights of my weekend. I am eager to understand their perspective and find a way to better my routine whether it be through technique or artistry or both. Critiques are not meant to discourage us, in fact, they are intended to do the opposite; to motivate, inspire, and foster our growth as athletes and artists.