Have you ever gone to a dance competition and wondered why one dancer is chosen as the highest scorer over another dancer?

With so many talented young dancers out there, judging a dance competition is a difficult task! What makes choreography “good” is largely subjective, and different dancers have different strengths.

However, there are a few things that set an exceptional performance apart from the rest. These are the ways to impress your next competition judge:

1. Technique

As a dancer progresses in his or her training and begins performing increasingly difficult choreography, judges are trained to look deeper than the tricks and ensure that the dancer executes every move with real technique. They want to see that the dancer has taken all of the technical skills they’ve learned in class and applied them to their solos and group choreography. As you dancer prepares for competition, remind them to think about things like turn out, alignment, and foot activation.

2. Performance Quality

A lot of dancers are great at putting on a big smile while they perform their dances. However, a competition judge is looking for more than that. They want to see and feel the emotion behind the dance. They want to see the dancer tell a story. Make sure that your dancer is able to show some emotional variation from solo to solo and help them investigate the different shades of emotion that they can show within each individual piece. The objective is to make the audience feel what the dancer feels. That is true performance.

3. Rehearsal

Many dancers fall into the habit of only rehearsing the big skills and tricks in their dances and neglecting to polish the smaller moments. A competition judge will be able to see that when the dance goes on stage. A clean dance is about more than just the turns and the leaps -- it’s about fine-tuning the transitions between each move, being specific about the musicality and timing, and finding nuance in the subtle moments. A well-rehearsed dance will flow from beginning to end and never feel empty or halted.

4. Professionalism

Competition judges watch the dancers all day every day during the run of a competition, and they can pick out the dancers who carry themselves professionally. There are many ways to impress the judge by being professional. The dancers must present themselves professionally, with tidy hair and a well-maintained costume. The dancers must perform professionally by staying cool under pressure and continuing the dance even if they make a mistake. The dancers must also behave professionally offstage, by being gracious to other dancers and accepting their victory or defeat with poise.

5. Passion

Above all, dance competition judges want to see dancers who are enjoying themselves on stage! When a young dancer takes the stage and gives it everything they have, it sets their performance apart. Help your dancer remember that competitions are meant to be fun. Don’t let them put too much pressure on themselves just yet. Give them the assurance that doing their best is what it’s all about.

Team BoPPA x

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