Requirements for dancers have changed over time in order for a team to give a top quality performance. Many factors are taken into consideration when put on line-up for a competition. Things like your weight, energy, height, move extensions, diet, and even physical features play a big factor to where you will be on stage. In my opinion those things are important, but not to the point where your flaws have to be pointed out for the benefit of the team putting on a better performance. Plus I highly doubt it will make any difference to the audience. They just want to see you having fun on stage!
I have been on an all-girls dance team for almost three years now so I have a good understanding on what to mentally and physically expect the body to go through during a performance.The style of we do requires immense amounts of stamina because one performance lasts between 7-8 minutes non stop. Last summer we had a competition in New York that took place a few days after Ramadan. During this month a person is not eating from sunrise to sunset for religious purposes, so naturally over time you become very weak and dehydrated. Although it was Ramadan I still had to go to dance practice 3 times a week while fasting. I have always been placed in the front of stage because I have met the requirements for a more advanced dancer in comparison to the newer members. Unfortunately since I was still recovering from Ramadan, for the first time I had one of the worst performances in my dancing career. A few weeks after New York when we found out we would be travelling to Toronto for another competition, I was told that I would be put towards the back of stage for formations because my energy and form was pointed out negatively by the judges in New York.
I was told in order to redeem my spot towards the front I had to put in twice the amount of work aside from regular practices to make sure my energy was not lagging behind, and I had to watch my diet as well so extra carbs or sugar would not make me feel groggy on stage. I had a sense of comfort for always being front and center during a performance. Dancing is a huge part of my life and I take criticism very seriously, so when I was told I was not good enough I didn’t realize how psychologically damaging it was. I lost over 15 pounds just for an 8 minute performance, and I wouldn’t eat anything unless it was a salad with a gallon of water on the side. Because face it, 3 minutes into dancing that slice of pizza you ate two months ago will make all the difference right?
Luckily I had some friends on the team that had been in the same boat so they mentally helped me clear my mind. Over time I had redeemed my spot back towards the front but after this experience my entire outlook for dancing had changed. I think it’s important to not write people off. There is so much room for individuality when dancing and there is no specific body type that will make you a better dancer. A really good dancer should make you forget that they actually may not have an ideal body. When I realized this, I stopped trying to fit in and began to be myself and over time my happiness for dancing came back and things quickly turned around for me. From time to time I still get critiqued on my energy or form which is totally okay because humility is important, but I always make sure to tell others around me that you should love your body for the way it is. Nobody is perfect and there is no definition for a perfect dancer. True beauty and skill lies within us and it is important to create yourself in the best way you can with what you were given.