This past weekend was the day of the Youth Ballet Competition that Aina’s been anxiously waiting for. She had been training hard for this competition for the last six months. We had a pep-talk a few days before the D-day. She said she was very nervous and didn’t feel ready. Since this was her first ever solo performance, she was afraid that she’d make a mistake — like if her timing was off, forgetting to point her toes, and worst of all, falling — and the audience would see it clearly, because she will be the only one on the stage.
So we talked about the warm-up in the backstage. We bought her a new, more comfortable pair of earphones, so that she could use it to listen to the song on her phone while waiting backstage. And more importantly, we talked about what to do and think while she’s backstage waiting, as well as when she’s up on the stage: don’t look at other contestants, just concentrate on your routines, don’t think about falling, taking the wrong steps and all the negative things. Instead, focus on the positive things, like just think about dancing to entertain the audience…
Of course, it’s easy to say for us. But for Aina to actually do that… we’ll see.
We dropped her off at the venue at the Singapore Chinese Girls School (SCGS) complex around 11:30 (although we got there half an hour early, and got a stern warning by Hazel for being too early, teehee!). Then, Ari and I went to Da Paolo at the Serene Centre for a bite and some drinks. I couldn’t stay long, though… I’ve been having a slight fever and joint pains since last night, and I felt too tired. So, we went home and I took a quick nap before going to SCGS again to see Aina during her lunch break.
After the lunch break, all the parents hung around and waited until the auditorium opened. It was sooooo hot and humid outside, it got me all dizzy. So, when the competition finally started and the door to the auditorium was finally opened, I was happy that we could sit.
The competition went a little overtime, and the jury took about 45 minutes longer than scheduled to pick the winners. I guess that’s kinda expected, since this was the first time Cheng Ballet Academy held a ballet competition. Of course it couldn’t be perfect.
The same goes for Aina’s performance…I could see from where I sat, she did quite a number of mistakes. It was her first time doing a solo competition. Of course it couldn’t be perfect.
Surprisingly, she won 3rd place on her category (she was in the pre-competitive category, which had about 17 kids competing). She was super happy because she didn’t think she’d win anything. She was all smiley the rest of the day, and very proud of her trophy. She didn’t really want to put the trophy into her bag… she just wanted to hold it all the way home. Her first ever trophy!
Of course, Ari and I were smiley, too… Happy and proud parents 🙂
And now, the interesting part…
Cheng Ballet gave out the DVD of the performance right away, so while we were waiting for the judges decision, Rex gave out the DVDs. The next day, we decided to let Aina watch her performance during the competition. Princess Florine is a very short routine, a little less than 1 minute…
And after she watched the DVD, she looked sooooo disappointed and started to cry… oh no! It turned out that she was very disappointed on the way she performed. She knew she did many mistakes during the competition, that’s why was surprised and very happy that she got the 3rd place. She thought she wouldn’t win anything at all… But after seeing the video, she realized that she made a lot more mistakes than she thought (“my knees were never straight”, “I didn’t point my toes at all”, “my legs didn’t stay up high enough”… and on and on and on…) and started to wonder how she could even get 3rd place. She got super-critical over her performance…
So, Ari and I launched into a talk with her. We told her that most of the time, the performance itself will not be exactly like when she practiced. She could be practicing 100%-120%, while the performance itself will only end-up being 80%, and it’s normal. It could be because of the nerves, the new place, the floor feels different than her regular practice studio floor… It could be anything.
And the only way to get that 80% closer to the 100% was to join more competitions. Hopefully, by doing more competitions, she’d be more experienced and learn how to handle the things that she could actually control, like her nerves.
I also asked Miss Ho, Aina’s dance teacher, if it’s normal for kids to get so upset after watching themselves dancing in the video after their performances. Miss Ho immediately turned to Aina and said with her biggest smile, “That’s okay, Aina. I also get very critical whenever I watch my own performance. We are our biggest critique… It’s good, because even though we thought for sure that we pointed our toes and we kept the knees straight, we actually didn’t do it enough during the performance. That’s why we have to practice more, so that when we think of doing these things in our heads, they actually match more closely to what we’re doing physically!”
I was glad that Miss Ho said it was normal. Honestly, I started to get worried that this whole competition thing will end up working the wrong way, like discouraging her about ballet. But hopefully, this experience will become another step forward for her, to whatever dream she’d like to achieve.
I think Aina felt better. Because today, she told me that she doesn’t mind doing another ballet competition again, because, “It was kinda fun!” with a smile.
A little more photos kept in YBC 2016 photo album in Flickr.