21 Things You Have to Try at Your Next Dance-O-Rama®
How many of these things are you doing for your next big dance trip?
Let's take a look at some of the all-time essentials for the next O-Rama in your future. If we left any out, let us know in the comments below. If you scored really well, congratulations, you're well on your way to gaining the most out of your next dance trip.
1. Wear a Costume
There's something that changes for a dance student the moment they put on their dance "uniform". Double points if it's a male student making the bold leap into a pair of Latin Pants.
2. Meet the Judges
One of the most overlooked, yet highly impactful, moments at a Dance-O-Rama ® is the "Meet the Judges" reception. Typically held at the World and Superama events, this is an opportunity for every student to see the human side to a world class group of people.
3. Country Western
No, this is not a joke. At one time, this division seemed to be an exclusive offering for the dance students of the southwest, but it is a sneaky secret weapon for getting quickly acclimated to the event. When fun, upbeat music meets easy, blue-jeaned dancing, smiles increase, nervousness decreases, and every dance for the remainder of the day has a little "Giddy-up" in it.
4. All Around
The All Around category is a multi-dance event that was specifically designed to improve something important: Your dance program. With an emphasis on the technique, style, and execution of the basics in your level, this category virtually eliminates the general fluff that can accompany some choreography.
This is an absolute must for any student that appreciates technique and execution.
5. Same Dance, Multiple Attempts
Imagine if you had six months to prepare for a single Foxtrot. How much pressure would you put on yourself? Now take that same scenario, but instead, you've got 4-6 Foxtrots to showcase. Giving each of your dances multiple attempts can drastically eliminate the pass/fail feelings that accompany a single freestyle strategy.
6. Go for the Streaks
As a current, or future, dance competitor one thing you want to try to eliminate is down time. For all of the progress that you might make through the course of your dancing day, those dance confidence muscles can easily atrophy with a long break. You can avoid this by inserting specific dances into your repertoire. Mambo, Merengue, Samba, Bolero, and Viennese Waltz are all examples of dances that can extend your rhythm or smooth dancing, and divisions like Country Western, Nightclub/Specialty, or International can virtually eliminate any extended downtime you could run into.
7. Read 31 Things
Shameless plug alert, but the article "31 Things Dance Judges Want to See You Do" is a game changer. At the time of this publication, it is the single most read article on this website, and for good reason. When communication goes down, speculation goes up, and nerves will only accelerate that. A dance competition, nerves, and speculation can, unfortunately, turn judges, and the work that they do, into a melodramatic conspiracy plot to ruin your hobby. So we recommend that you read the article, share it with your friends, and commit it to memory before you get there.
8. Plan in Bulk
No one says you have to attend every Dance-O-Rama® - then again, you may have a very excited teacher - but it doesn't hurt to plan them in clusters. Treat it the same way you'd plan vacations. There may be some that are on a wish list, some that make it to the calendar, and others that are purely speculative depending on how things go with your schedule. Having multiple options can keep your journey from feeling like a destination, and it never hurts to plan early.... and often.
9. Join a Formation
The toughest division to succeed in is the formation category. Granted, this statement has nothing to do with the actual dancing, or the level of competition, but it has everything to do with teamwork and logistics. A formation is a routine featuring multiple students with, or without, their teachers. Putting one together for your local events is one thing, but assembling a team to perform it "on the road" takes a masterful job of planning and execution. Due to this fact, most DOR events will not have many formations, which makes this a great category if your studio wants to bring home a trophy.
10. Double Your Age (Category)
A DOR gives every student a chance to dance as much as possible to gain confidence at their desired rate. One great way of doing this is to dance in two age categories. So, for example, if you're in the Ladies B Age Category, you may want to add in Ladies A-1 as well. Doubling up your age category gives you a chance to assemble on the floor with a different set of students, and gain more floor time and personal feedback in your dances.
11. Double Your Level (Category)
With the same objective as your Age Category (#10), we recommend trying the same approach with your dance level. If you choose to, you can dance up to two dance level categories. This doesn't mean a Bronze student will also compete in the Gold category, but an Associate Bronze student could also try dances in Full Bronze if they choose to. This is a great way to beta test the next level to reduce any fear of the unknown in that category.
If it's your first time trying this, pick 6-10 dances you'll do in the higher division consistently so you can concentrate on the core dance material in the higher level.
12. Get Your Hair and Makeup Done
Okay, so this is an area that is pretty much exclusive to the female students, but it does make a world of difference. Granted, this may require an incredibly early morning, but the transformation is one that is worth the sleep deprivation.
Eventually, you'll have a dance alter-ego. Getting your hair and makeup done by a professional at a dance competition is a way to find that inner dance performer very quickly.
13. Sip Champagne
There will come a point when your dancing is done, your feet are sore, your body is operating on impulse power, and you will (should) sip a glass of champagne to celebrate this incredible milestone. For every leg of your journey that could have stopped you - from nerves to vacation time - you pushed through, moved the needle on your dance confidence, and set a new bar for what you may never have thought you were capable of.
There's a version of you, somewhere in your past, that couldn't fathom you as a dance competitor. This glass of champagne is a toast to that former version of you and how far you've come.
14. Sing a National Anthem
Specific to the World and Superama events, the Parade of Flags is something every Arthur Murray student should experience. While your home studio is a world in, and of, itself, it is awe inspiring and can even be an emotional sight to behold. With events that can feature the majority of the states in the union, and countries far and wide, it's a tremendous sense of pride and a grand spectacle view of the positive global reach of the Arthur Murray organization.
15. Set Goals with Your Teacher
The perfect time to buy a concert t-shirt is at a concert, and the perfect time to set DOR goals is at a DOR. Bottom line, end of story. The moment you change out of your superhero dancer costume, and return to mild-mannered corporate mode, the planning becomes harder to visualize.
16. Dance a Solo, Make it Special
For the record, and technically-speaking, a solo dance routine is an optional part of your DOR experience. Granted, your teacher may have another opinion on this, but one thing is for certain: Make this performance special. When possible, your DOR routine should be something other than just a deluxe open freestyle. So pull out all the stops - costuming, props, or a special cut of the music. This type of routine is an opportunity to add more depth to your dance persona.
17. Try an Excursion
By participating in some of the early activity excursions, a Dance-O-Rama® can achieve "dance vacation" status. Not to mention, the excursions are always top notch and give every student a chance to enjoy the ambiance of the city with other Arthur Murray students and professionals from around the world.
18. Make Connections
It can be difficult to truly understand the "global-ness" of the Arthur Murray family if you've only been around your home studio. Attending a DOR is like a family reunion, or convention, where you have a chance to meet like-minded people and form connections and friendships. Hearing two students from opposite sides of the map say "see you at the next one" is one of the great, unexpected, benefits of attending an event like this.
19. Take in the Show
Saturday night at a DOR is a time where you get a chance to sit back, enjoy a meal, and take in an incredible professional event or two. Yes, your dance events are over and that's when the pros sweat it out, pull out all the stops, and you've got a front row seat to seeing the best dancers in the world dancing at their maximum.
20. Secure a Professional Video
One of the first things seasoned dance competitors do when they arrive at a big event is sign up for videography services. This is much different that handing your friend your phone before you rush out onto the dance floor. Why worry? Instead, leave it to a professional video crew who will be on a raised platform, using top notch equipment, and will be responsible for getting the dances you select on video. It's an incredibly helpful training tool for you and your teacher.
21. Pictures & Breakfast
Sunday morning you'll have a chance to enjoy a meal, look through any still photographs you may have purchased, say goodbye to acquaintances (#18), and make plans with your teacher for your next big dance trip on the schedule.
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