By Dancer and Model Christina Ricucci

My first dance competition was when I was 4 years old, at the Rainbow National Dance Competition.  I was too little to really be nervous and I remember I was very excited to wear lipstick and eyeshadow! I competed my first solo there, a Song & Dance solo to “Hey Look Me Over.” My costume was a hot pink and black vest, a sequin bow tie, a black skirt with pink sequins (which I loved) and a little black bowler hat, all made by my dance teacher, Miss Susanne (Susanne Lee, Owner of the California Dancer Studio). I ended up winning First Place and the “Top Newbie” trophy, which I still have, to remember where I started.

Besides my solo, I was in two trios. One was a tap dance where we dressed in polka dot dresses to look like Shirley Temple, a ballet trio with mermaid costumes, and our Studio’s Tap Production number to “Anything Goes.” In that dance, I made my entrance by jumping out of a trash can and doing “buffalos” across the stage in a little red sailor dress. I felt so special to be dancing with “The Big Kids”. I remember how much I loved that first competition, how much I loved performing on the stage, and how I never wanted to stop.

For those of you competing for the first time, my advice is to put a lot of time and effort into rehearsal. Really know your dances so you don’t have to think about what step comes next, then you can perform the dance and put your personality into it. Also, perform your dances in front of your teammates, family and friends before the competition, it will help you practice dealing with any nervousness you might feel. Finally, when you are on the stage for the first time, remember to breath and just have fun. The stage, the lights, the audience – it’s your turn to do what you love. Just listen to your music, be proud of yourself that you get to share all of your hard work with your audience, don’t worry about making mistakes, and dance because it makes you happy!