What are the judges looking for

They are looking for the basics first of course! They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. While I am in no way “the know it all of judging” – I do know a little, and enough to win.

1. Attitude:

I have seen a number of good dancers blow their chances at a win because of little tiny mistakes. Hot headedness and a parade like attitude is their first mistake. “Breath”

2. Technique.

If you don’t have good technique, expect your score to be low. Even good dancers get dinged for improper technique. Technique is the foundation of every dance known to man and woman kind. If you don’t practice good form in your training – why dance? The worst thing to see is someone slap a routine together and think its all hot only to be disappointed when they get their score sheet back, and see their technique scores hammered.

If you are unsure of how you are doing a particular movement – you should visit the American Ballet Theater’s Dictionary online at:
http://abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html The dictionary has numerous ballet videos in Quick Time format for those wanting to see the correct methods. (The following links are from ABT, and they own exclusive rights.)

Please count out your routine 5,6,7,8 and know where your music cues are. Get with the beat and stay on time. Make it pop! Here are some common technique flaws – how many have you seen on your own score sheets, or are worried about seeing in the future?

-open Jeté more
– Relevé kicks
– Relevé turns
-keep movements continuous
-more flex in splits and extensions
-more Relevé !!!!!!
-Dancers dance on their toes!!!!!!
-more use of floor
– Relevé on everything! (you’re getting this right?)
-Hit passé’ every time. So many marks are given for this technique error.
-DON”T LOOK AT THE FLOOR, you need eye contact and a smile at least for the beginners.
Fouetté Control, Lift, Execution, Spotting. Etc.. the same with:
Pirouette à la second, grande
Pirouette piquée
A sloppy fouette is a sloppy fouette. Don’t use it if you can’t do it right.

Some competitions base your technical training on the amount of fouettes that you do in a routine. They also judge on combinations,
directional turns, etc. Check the rules before you sign up in a category.


A leap has a beginning, a middle, and an end! Always begin your leaps with a “prep” or approach. Coordinate arms and legs to give your leaps and jumps height. Remember to keep your back in good form , legs straight, and toes pointed. Land on the balls of your feet and rebound after every leap. When you have mastered these basics, move on to more advanced leaps. Don’t try to do leaps that go beyond your range. Be good to yourself. DON”T LOOK AT THE FLOOR!

E-gads its freak-a-zoid!

Make all your arm movements strong. Hit each movement like it was deliberate – because it is. Don’t just flop it – check it in the mirror. Fluid movements should be defined, not just left for the judges to guess if you meant to pop your wrist or stick your thumbs out. Your hand and finger movements should look as good as the rest of your body. Bent elbows in leaps – freak-a-zoid…. Another common mistake is to SWIM with your arms before you take off into a leap. Arms up from the side please. Lift ….from your
center…eyes forward…leap

-Use of floor!

Starting with x, and ending with 8 (this is an example only for like the first 32 -64 counts of a routine) One thing I learned years ago was that you never stop moving on the floor unless it is a choreographed stop, pause, or transitional movement.. We do, do movements when the music pauses. Those dead spots are great for putting in a nice visual, or formation change.

Consider this the size of half a gym in your middle school or high school. Advanced people use a full gym or stage. If you aren’t moving or at least showing me some form of well choreographed arm/hand/body movements – you aren’t dancing. (Please don’t stop with your hands on swinging hips and wink for 32 counts – unless you are 3 ½ years old).

For teams:

Formations, formations, formations. Don’t go on the floor without running through your formations first. Many teams dance on gym floors. Know that some floors are marked for volleyball, and some are not, some are just marked for basketball. If you have been practicing on a volleyball floor – you will be sorry  if you don’t get your formations for basketball floor down.

Guide right! Use your side peripheral vision to help you spot your position on the floor. It’s so easy even a three year old could do it. The old baby cheer goes like this “line up – guide right” No cheerleading experience necessary.

Our team is here to stay
Dancing dancing the time away
Line Up! Guide Right!
Line Up! Guide Right!
Our team is here to stay

Snap and Pull up on those kicks kiddies. Don’t banana back, you look like an old man when you do.. 🙂

3. . Choreography – what do they want to see?

A beautiful choreographed routine is a well thought out routine. Don’t just put it together because the movement is cool. If a movement doesn’t fit the song “please don’t use it”. I would rather see a CLEAN routine with good technique than a routine that is too difficult for the dancers.

When you choreograph – choreograph your facials as you go – DON’T wait! Practice with your facials.

Be aware of over use of tricks or repetitive motions.
When you choreograph ask yourself a few questions

a. How many Leaps & Jumps= ___
b. Turns & Spins=___
c. Hip Hop Funky steps=_____
d. Flash poses=__ ___
e. Kicks=_ _
f. Floor transitions=__ ___
g. Gymnastics =__ ___
h. Facials- Presentation- -How many & where _____

i. Please don’t use the same movement over and over and over and over – You get the hint.

j. use of floor in many directions – cover more area

k. New movements to wow the judges (I’m for that if clean and not over done)

l. Variety

m. Originality

n. Difficulty (is the routine to difficult for you?) It’s okay to change it.

o. More facial changes (a,e,i,o,u – head nods, winks) make sure they match the music. Please do not do facials as you walk onto the
stage (overkill). Just smile and nod when you stop to pose for

the beginning. I prefer a smile and/or a sultry look when appropriate.

Know a little about your competition. Just a thought. You should be as graceful a winner as a loser.

4. Costumes and makeup, etc: Costumes, and frills do not make the dance. This is a hard one for a lot of people. You can have the most expensive costume on the floor, but if you don’t have technique, presentation, and a tooooo die for routine and all the goodies that go with it – you wasted your money. Pick costumes that accent your figure – no flabby belly rolls hanging out, and no butt cracks in the back “please”. No robust breasts that overwhelm the senses “glaring back at you – warning, warning a fall out is
eminent”. Pick a costume that is flattering to you and that will accent your particular dance. Costumes – especially competition costumes need to have that little extra touch to them – but come on, draw the line somewhere. ORIGINAL is good too.  A number of competitions require you to take your jewelry off. Check your rule sheet.

– Hair, as long as it fits the style – do your own thing. Warning – some judges just aren’t as up on new trends as others may be. I hate to say these types of judges are dinosaurs – but……. in dinosaur land – do as the dinosaurs do.

-If they wax the floor you need something for the bottom of your shoes – right before you go on like, Rosin, hair spray, water or spit! Nothing like sitting in front of the judges when you should be moving.
– Plan for the worst with your choreography. What if I forget? KEEP GOING, don’t stop moving. Let me say that again, don’t stop moving, even if your hair falls out, and you want to cry, and the floor is so slick you could butter toast with it. Poop happens. Keep moving.

Gymnastics: There is a debate on that one out there. I don’t plan to get into it. We use gymnastics – but a good rule of thumb is “Use it sparingly, and in the right places”. Variety is always the key.


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