What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions?

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What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions?

I have been dancing for 38 years, competing in competitions from 4 years old, and coaching dancers – from beginners to professionals – for over 20 years. I have frequently asked myself, both for my own dancing and for my pupils: “What do judges look for in dance competitions?”

So in this blog, I will do my best to answer that question. I could fill a novel with the answer but I will try to keep this short and sweet. This blog will be relevant for any medalist dancers – at all grades – and for open dancers. These are the dancers that I believe need to know: what do judges look for in a dance competitions?

What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions? – The common mistakes
What do Judges look for in dance Competitions

As well as coaching Ballroom & Latin dancing, I have also judged competitions myself. Therefore, one of the best ways of telling you what do judges look for in dance competitions, is telling you what I look for myself.

Often your dance teacher works hard to correct little errors, that may seem insignificant for you. However, there is method to the madness. When I judge, one of the easiest ways to eliminate dancers in round one is to look for the common mistakes. I look for the faults that everyone makes because they are easy to spot. For example, the footwork on step four on the chasse or lock in a Quickstep should be toe heel for the man. However, most beginners – and sadly some advanced dancers – do heel leads. There are other examples of common mistakes. In jive, every heel should go down on a backstep – and lots of dancers don’t. In a cha cha chasse, the foot work should be ball flat throughout – and lots of dancers stay on their toes.

These are the common faults that I use when I judge. In round one, I can normally mark the people I want in the next round just by using this method. Now I know that we all get fed up of our dance teachers focusing on the details – like footwork. We all want to spend time on the fancy choreography. Judges though, look for these details. This is why your dance teacher is always telling you the same thing over and over and over and over again. They know that judges will spot the common faults, so listen to their corrections.


What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions? – PresentationWhat do judges look for in dance competitions 1

What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions 2As we go through the rounds, judges will look for different things depending on the level at which you are dancing. However, there is one thing that never hurts – presenting yourself!

Poise and posture are of the utmost importance. You want to be a winner, so present yourself as such. Stand up and be proud.

The way you dress on the floor should be nice, neat and presentable. A sexy style is good in Latin but don’t fall into the trap of dressing inappropriately. Unfortunately, this is something that is getting worse. I want to see what you are wearing enhancing your dancing. I don’t want to see something I shouldn’t, distracting me from your movement. So girls, be elegant and classy. You don’t need a skimpy outfit to win a competition. If I’m judging, it will hinder you and not help you.

Guys make sure your hair is smart and use makeup! It doesn’t mean you are any less of a man. You will just look better on the floor. If you want to win a car collecting competition, you dress the car up and polish the car. Well, in dance competitions, makeup is your polish.

What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions? – Your coach knows

I have heard so many people arguing with me, or arguing with their own dance teacher, over what to do at a dance competition. I can often see dance teachers going red in the face with frustration. It is always tempting to think that you know best but try to remember that your coach is your expert. The advice they give you is designed to make you win. Remember, most of your dance coaches do not get paid to go to dance competitions with you. They often miss out on a day of teaching as well.

The secret is that your dance coaches have known all along what do judges look for in dance competitions.

What do judges look for in dance competitions 7Your teacher tells you in every single lesson you have or class you attend, what do judges look for in dance competitions. With every fault they correct, your teacher is trying to give the judges what they want so you will go through the rounds. They will prioritise the most important issues in order to get you ready to face the judges.


What do Judges look for in Dance Competitions? – Summary

The corrections made in your lessons are what judges are looking for in dance competitions. Every fault is an excuse for a judge not to mark your dancing and your dance teacher knows this. When your dance coach advises you on your presentation, listen because they know what judges look for in dance competitions. They want to make you stand out as a winner. Your dance teacher in every lesson tells you everything the judges are looking for in competitions. Your dance teachers really are Yoda!

To read another good article on this subject click here  

Now sometimes you may have a bad day with the judges. Sometimes I wonder if the judges are looking for anything besides their favourites. However, I am often told by my wife that I shouldn’t be too cynical – so I will leave that for another day.

So the conclusion of this blog is: Listen to your coach. They tell you every day what do judges look for in dance competitions! Rubies Dance Centre run a competition class for any level where all this information is required. Click Here to find out more.





1 Comment

  1. Lauren Wright on 19th September 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Very useful tips from Head Coach Neil – thank you! I hope myself and my fellow Rubies competitors can put these tips into action at the Blackpool National finals this weekend! Good luck everyone – we can do it!

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