With respect to winning them,
...compete in them as if winning a medal can change their whole life..
there certainly is ample evidence that this indeed is the case and certainly what many competitors want to result from their participation in the competition. It doesn't seem fair to me to blame competitions for what companies and company directors expect of a dancer they hire based on competitions. I think Victoria's point,
if they are given the principal work right away, so much is expected from them that they fold under the pressure. Principal dancers need to have some degree of maturity and steady experience in a company, a chance to grow up, and to be a dancer before they are suddenly a "star"
expresses this exactly. Young dancers need to be nurtured no matter how they arrive on the company's doorstep.
[ 04-14-2001: Message edited by: Paul W ]