Trash the Trophies, How to Win Without Losing Your Soul – book review

In Chasta Hamilton’s book, Trash the Trophies, How to Win Without Losing Your Soul, Ms. Hamilton explores the world of competitive dance, the reasons why she decided to leave the competitive arena, and how she created for her students an even more successful, totally new, non-competitive dance experience.

In the first sections of her book, Ms. Hamilton explores the competition arena; painting a vivid picture of this world as she saw it; clearly laying out how, in her opinion, the industry seduces competitors into signing on for more and more competitions, and what they do to keep their customers happy. She describes her experiences, her students’ experiences, their families’ experiences and discusses what was for her, a turning point:

“My motivator moment happened when competitions started giving ‘kindness’ awards.”

She decided to leave the competition arena and reformat her studio to focus on the art of teaching dance while affording her students first rate training and as many performance opportunities as possible. What follows is nothing less than brilliant; her plan to transition out of competition dance, maintain the success of her studio, and grow her business, without participating in competitions. 

Ms. Hamilton’s writing style vibrates with energy; the reader can feel her excitement as she brings the reader along on her journey. This book is a joy to read.

Trash the Trophies is an impassioned look at the dance studio industry and a triumphal ode to the art of teaching in dance; not as a means to garner accolades and trophies but but as a means to teach art for art’s sake. It is a beautifully written must read for studio owners, teachers and dancers alike who yearn for something outside the competitive realm and serves as a model for any business owner on the precipice of a major change.

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