Anyone Do Competitive Dance or Children That Do It?

Updated on August 29, 2011
K.S. asks from Huntington Beach, CA
13 answers

Anyone do competitive dance or children that do it?

I got a call from the head of our dance studio yesterday asking if my oldest, KK, who will turn five in a few weeks, would be joining the competitive dance team. She had asked us back before the recital but I thought it was just a blanket question to all the dancer’s moms, so I had ignored it. Anyway, I told her that I would talk it over with my husband and would let her know since we couldn’t get her there without me getting out of work early. Knowing where my daughter will go to school she was talking about having her mom and daughter pick up KK so she could come.

When I talked to my daughter I just asked if she liked dance, her response, “Mommy I love dance”. I asked her what she liked about it, she said, “I love being up on the stage and everyone watching me dance”. I told her that it was going to be 2 hours of practice and that the teachers might not be as nice since they want the dance to be perfect and she says, “That’s alright I want it to be perfect”.

I’m more the basketball, soccer, field hockey player and not so much this dance stuff but I don’t want to stifle her and push her to what I like instead of what she likes. Also, she’s pretty good at this dance stuff. I’m not sure competitive level but good.

So is it worth the time and effort for a 5 year old to dance competitively? Anyone do this personally or have their child in it? Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly.


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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your feedback! We've decided not to do the competitive dance for now (it's a LOT of money) but am glad that I've received such positive feedback from so many of the moms. I was scared that it would be all bad and I would hate going when the time comes. I was, and still am, very much a tom-boy so when I was blessed with two girls I knew the day would come when they might want to do "girly" stuff that I know nothing about! :-) Luckily we have a site like this to ask the moms that have been there and survived!

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answers from Boston on

Competition totally killed the fun factor of dance for me. Thankfully after one year of it the ridiculous cost of it had my mom opt out of us competing. It can be a lot of money, extra classes, fees for the competitions, extra costumes, the cost of traveling, etc

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I'm old-fashioned enough to hope five-year-olds could escape being in competitive things for a while longer. But there are five-year-olds playing competitive sports of a sort, so I know I'm in the minority.

Dance can be as good exercise as basketball or soccer. It can be good physical training, and many people do enjoy it. Go to a professional dance performance some time, just for your own information; you'll be amazed. There's strength and power inside those fancy costumes.

But I think that if I were you I'd do three things: first, I'd go to one of those dance competitions and see what goes on. I'd look not only at the dancing but also at the dancers, the coaches, and the parents. Then, I'd visit a rehearsal or two, sit way in a corner like a mouse, and see what goes on when nobody notices a visitor. Third, if it still seemed like a possibility to go for, I'd make it clear to the director and to my daughter that her participation was on a season-to-season (the natural break in the schedule) basis, and would be re-decided at the end of every season.

And before any of those three, I'd get an itemized estimate of how much it would cost. We're talking costumes and transportation here! Whew!

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answers from Boston on

I think that, as long as she enjoys it and you can manage the time, go for it. Keep an eye on things and if something strikes you as off or too much or not quite the message you want your daughter to get, then you stop. There's nothing like working at something and succeeding to boost a little one's self-confidence. And performing on stage is something SHE does all by herself. No matter how much coaching or support she gets from you, her dad and her instructor, the success is all hers.

Have fun with it.

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answers from Charleston on

I think 5 is too young to dance competitively. I don't think 5 year olds have enough training or have enough control over their bodies to perform at that level. As a dance teacher, I don't see how the instructors can even keep 5 year olds attentions for more than 1 hour. Their maturity level and attention spans are not where they need to be for this type training. Personally I think it's too much too soon. If she loves dance, definitely keep her dancing! I just think the competition aspect for her age is too much. I wouldn't want to "burn her out" with the hours and multiple days of practice. The competition scene can be very "catty" and disheartening if there is not a good leader to keep the girls grounded. Maybe ask to attend a competition to see for yourself how they handle it. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Kids who compete at age 5 don't understand what competition is all about yet. All they know is they get to perform on a stage in a pretty costume and then they get an award or they don't get an award.

I do competitive cheer and tumbling and we do have kids age 5 and up on cheer and 3 and up on tumbling. The young kids do like competing (even the 3 year olds love it!) and they love that they get a shiny ribbon or medal but they've yet to grasp the connection with a "perfect" performance and their score. Our cheer and dance is the kind where everyone gets some kind of ribbon or trophy so no one goes home empty-handed.

The kids that have started competing young have grown up to be fine gymnasts and cheerleaders. Others have moved on to different sports, but hopefully look back fondly at their time on our team.

I think your daughter will love it, provided it's a good studio, not going to break your bank, and that the dances are appropriate. (You wouldn't believe what some studios have the little kids wear and do--little 5 year olds in skimpy outfits shaking their booty, ICK!)

Just watch that she doesn't get too bored or too burned out. She could end up hating dance forever. (Our competition kids practice for only an hour at a time until age 7, so 2 hours seems like a long time!)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on


I did competitve dance as a kid. It was very contrived. Basicly, you pay a competition fee, you get to perform, you sit around all day, wait for awards, and then you go home. The judges are random people; who knows what qualifications they have. There is no real prize. It was kinda a scam....
Some people take it really seriously. But, really it is just another opportunity for your kid to get up on a stage and perform. That is fun. I loved dancing, classes, etc. So I enjoyed the whole "practicing" thing. But after awhile, I kinda realized why my parents were so negative about competitions. Competitions take up THE WHOLE WEEKEND (typically), you have to pay to perform, almost everybody gets an invite to "nationals".....why not, they can just make more money.

I say, go for it, if she likes to perform. But, just kinda keep in mind that it is kinda a scam (or at least in my experience). I would encourage her with dance, but then try to get her involved with cheerleading or gymnastics or something. If she likes dance, she will love these activites. I enjoyed these activites much more. Plus these activities are centered around school....and most schools require cheerleaders to get certain grades and/or be part of student leadership....etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I work in a gymnastics/dance studio in the clothing store. I have grandkids in both dance and gymnastics and tumbling. the girl is on the gymnastics show team and I have some experience with the dance show team, plus I have a cousin who is on her dance show team.

I think if she likes it then there is no harm going to be done. Yes, they practice harder, yes, they are more exacting, yes, it ends up costing more due to costumes, travel, and related expenses to that. K is excited by getting to be on the gym show team. They typically wear the same leo for each performance unless it is part of a recital or specific show, such as a Christmas show. It has built her confidence in her body, it has given her a goal to work towards, it has made a positive change in her whole demeanor.

This is a girl who succeeds at most everything she tries. She does tap/ballet, gymnastics/tumbling/show team, softball, soccer, BMX (she is number 9 in our state for girls her age), and does tennis lessons too. I think that's

My cousin's daughter is competing about twice a month during the time of year they compete. They work and learn their routines, they get together and go to the place the competition is, they spend hours and hours together, these girls and parents become a support group and pretty close. If there are personality conflicts they learn to work through them. They learn to recognize strengths and weakness in each other and still work as a team.

All together I have found the experience to be a good one. We are on a limited income and it is hard to come up with the extra money sometimes but I work in the store to help pay for the class fees and some of the costume expenses. I appreciate the owners so much and am grateful they allow me to do this so I can give my grand daughter these experiences.

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answers from San Francisco on

Yes, if she loves it that much, and says she loves being up on the stage, then go for it. The performer-type kid usually has that desire from an early age.

Take her lead, don't become a stage mom, and take it as far as she wants. If she wants to do it competitively, and you can afford it, then do it.

I've worked with performer kids, and that type of kid just needs to perform. But if she ever says she's over it, then allow her to let it go.

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answers from Washington DC on

As the parent of an older girl who has never danced competitively, I don't get the emphasis these days on competitive dance. Why do things have to involve judging and awards instead of the achievement of learning and liking it? My child has been in plenty of shows through her dance schools with all the other students, so there are many opportunities to be on a stage and have folks watch you -- which is what your daughter wants -- that do not involve being judged. If you start her on that and she doesn't like the pressure, or at her very young age gets crushed by the fact that "We lost," I would wonder if it would hurt her love of dance. In a few years maybe it will be perfect for her but I really question having a child this young tied up in competitions.

Why not find another dance studio where kids dance for the love of dance, the self-expression, the love of music and the fun of movement? Dance is a group endeavor in non-competitive dance too; you just don't have the pressure of competing. I know kids who do "dance team" and like it and kids who do it but continue just because they are pressured by coaches, i.e. "You'll let down the team if you don't sign up for dance team next fall." Even if they don't truly like the competitive aspect.

If she loves to dance, especially as young as she is, I'd let her do dance classes at a place that has recitals where she can be on stage and perform for others, rather than competitions. Let her focus on dancing for now and on having fun, rather than on rankings and awards. If she is really into it in later on and has stuck with classes, then look at competitive teams, but until you know if she has the discipline and real interest, why start with competition now?

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answers from Boston on

I did Irish Step Dance which is a totally different scene from tap/jazz/ballet. Kids were competing in feiseanna as young as 4 or 5 and competitions were an integral part of taking step dance. It was basically considered the reason to take classes - why dance if you weren't competing?

So I don't think the 5 is inherently too young for competition, but I would ask other moms what they think. If the competition team is age-appropriate, with modest costumes and moves, room for error, no screaming teachers, and is generally a positive experience where the goal is to have fun, then let her try it out. If they're dressing like women and doing booty shaking or the vibe is cut throat and they put pressure on the kids, then I would pass until she's older.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My daughter started her first year of competitive dance when she was 6. It is still fun and at that age it isn't too much competition - more performances on top of recital. It's a lot of time and money, but I'd never take my daughter out if she didn't want to. She is 8 and we shoulod find out this week if she made it into her 3rd competitive year. She LOVES dance and it keeps her on the right path. Even the competitions aren't bad...everyone wins something and they have awards for the biggest smiles, curliest hair, make it fun for everyone. I'd let her do it if she wants to.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I do not have any experience with this. I personally think 5 yo is a bit too



answers from Kansas City on

I have four girls who dance competitively: a 13-yr-old, twin 11-yr-olds, and a 5-yr old. This is the 5th year for the older girls and the 2nd year for the younger girls.

It's expensive. It's time consuming. But, the girls love it! My bigger frustration is with lack of planning by and communication from the studio owner.

To help me cope with it, I've started a blog,, where I can snarkily share my pointe of view. It's helping me laugh at the chaos instead of getting stressed out by it. I'd love for you to check it out and share any feedback you have!

Good luck making your decision!

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