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Updated on October 16, 2014

Which do you prefer?

When I grew up as a dancer, I went to a very strict, classic dance studio. We did not participate in dance competitions, only had performances twice a year for our friends and family to attend. However, in High School I made it onto our Drill / Dance Team and got a taste of the competition dance world.

Both are extremely different, but also needed for me to become the dancer I am today. Whether you like to just perform for family and friends when you dance or you are a driven dance competitor, we will review the pros and cons for Competition and Performance Studios in this article.


Web definitions: Performance Dance

1. Concert or Studio dance is dance performed for an audience. It is frequently performed in a theatre setting, though this is not a requirement, and it is usually choreographed and performed to set music.

Web definitions: Competition Dance

1. Competitive dance is a popular, widespread activity in which competitors perform dances in any of several permitted dance styles—such as acro, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, modern, and tap—before a common group of judges. This is in contrast with other activities that involve competition among dancers based on purpose, or specific dance style

As we look at the above definitions of each type of dance instruction, you can see some of the major difference, but which is better?

Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of each style of dance instruction to see which would be best for you.




  • TECHNIQUE: One of the main benefits of dancing in a performance only studio is the emphasis on technique. Because these studios do not have to spend time prepping for competition routines, more emphasis is put on ensuring dancers are learning the correct dance technique with their movements.

  • FLEXIBILITY: Most studio dancers are also able to take extra strength and flexibility classes, because they are not busy with competition and choreography classes. Having strength and flexibility is crucial for dancers to excel.

  • CONTRACTS: Another benefit of dancing in a performance dance studio, is the opportunity for dance contracts and professional careers. Excellent dancers that dance at a focused studio, often receive opportunities for dance contracts and careers with professional companies. This is because they have more availability to do so, as they are not interrupted with the strong competition focus. Performance studios often have ties to professional companies, the same way MLB teams have minor league associations.


  • BUBBLE: Because dancers in strict studios are constantly focusing on technique and performance, they stay out of the "dance world" that is evolving today. These dancers stay in their own little bubble and lack the courage and stage presence that competition dancers gain from constantly being on stage and competing against other dance teams.




  • COMPETITIVE EDGE. Dancers who learn dance on a competitive dance team and competitive studio environment will always have the competitive edge over those dancers without this training. A competitive edge is beneficial for self-motivation, stage presence, and the ability to adapt to rules and regulations.
  • PERFORMANCE. One of the main topics of judging in dance competitions is facial expressions. Because of this, competition dancers learn set facials to use when performing, which makes their routines look more fun and enjoyable. Learning how to "force" these facial expressions in the beginning, makes their performance face more natural after a few years in the competition world.
  • TROPHIES & AWARDS. As a studio dancer, one thing you miss out on is the opportunity to win awards and trophies. Though these aren't necessary to be an amazing dancer, they do help provide dancers with a self-accomplishment. They also allow for more details to add onto a dancers' resume.


  • LACK OF TECHNIQUE. Dancing for over 22 years, I have found that dancers who only know competition dancing tend not to have as good of technique as dancers who train in a performance and technical studio. This is because all of their attention is focuses on learning choreography and competing, so learning routines tends to take priority over proper technique.
  • LOSS OF PASSION. I have also seen more competition dancers lose their love for dance, once they stop competing. They tend to dance just for the competitive rush and not because they love dancing. Now, this is not true for all dancers of course. However, it is more prevalent in competitive dancers.


As a professional choreographer,

I work with hundreds of different types of dancers. In my opinion, I feel that it is best to start in a technical, performance studio until the ages of 12-15. This will allow dancers to focus on the need for great technique that will help them become even better dancers when they compete. After this technical training, dance competitions are nearly a crucial experience for dancers in today's world. It is at this point that I would have a dancer transfer to a competitive dance team or studio.

Competitive Studios and Technical Studios are completely different. However, that doesn't mean one is better than the other. Both offer great benefits to helping your dancers be the best they can be.

Thanks for your Love & Support!

Which do your Prefer?

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Have any dance questions, concerns, or topics to discuss? Don't hesitate to reach out to Lai Rupe's Choreography. I am here to spread the beauty of dance.

Also, feel free to check out the article, "How to Create Competitive Jazz Choreography," to learn more about dance and competitive choreography.

Thanks for your LOVE and Support!

~Alaina (Lai) Rupe


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      3 years ago

      Thanks for adding the polls so that readers can participate. :)

      I really like your blog!


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