By Kai Petersen
My Cross Country coach was very big on goal setting. At least once a week we’d have to get out our goal packets to write down goals for this week, this next race, and for the season as well. He’d love to go around and have some people share their goals with the rest of the team. People would say they‘d like to cut 30 seconds off their time, and he’d respond: why not a minute? He believed if we set our goal to be 30 seconds faster, we’d only get 30 seconds faster, but if we went for something a little harder to get, we might fall short, but still be farther along than we thought possible.
Goals aren’t just for runners, they’re for anyone, and as a newer dancer I’ve been asked what mine are. To be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with dance when I started, so I went with the most generic answer I could: to have fun. Even though it was half-hearted response, I realize now that it’s probably the best goal to have. Dance isn’t something you do because you have to, you do it because you want to. Fun should be at the center of all our dancing, no matter what level you dance at.
What I like to imagine is growing a tree. First you have to plant the seed—this could be your first social dance, lesson, or even competition, as long as it’s a fun memory that made you want to dance again. These fun memories add up over time and become the roots and trunk of our tree. As you keep dancing and learn moves, technique, and gain experience, your tree grows, and as it grows it may begin to branch off. These branches of your tree could be wanting to learn a new move or style, or they could be competitive goals like wanting to final in something.
For me, even as I become more competitive and my personal goals shift more towards competitions, I always want to have that rooted desired to come back to the floor and dance again. It’s because of this that I enjoy working hard and doing the “boring stuff,” like drills, that then lets me become more competitive.
So for the newcomers, and for the people who are just entering competitive dance, if this is your first competition, have fun! Create that want to dance again. For the people who have been around for awhile, don’t forget what got you dancing. There’s a limit to have many firsts a judge can give, but not on how much fun you can have. I hope to see you all on the floor!