How to Get Higher Marks at Your Next Dance Competition

As a professional adjudicator for numerous dance competitions, I often give similar feedback to dancers across the country. I want every dancer, no matter what age or ability you are, to do and feel your best on stage.

Yes, It can be nerve-racking to have judges stare you in the eye… but you’ll only become a better performer and dancer if you listen to our feedback. So, here’s a few expert suggestions that will improve your marks:

1.) LOOK UP!

Keep your focus OFF the floor please. You’re not putting your best foot forward by looking at your shoes. Be proud and confident, and look at your judges and audience. If you’re in a duet or trio, naturally acknowledge your fellow dancers with a look and smiles (but don’t over do it). Show us that you enjoy performing and love dance, and you’ll get more points for your stage presence.

2.) RELAX.

All judges know you’re nervous, so don’t make it more obvious by getting uptight. Before you get on stage, take a few deep breaths. Relax. Think of how hard you’ve worked to get to this point, and pat yourself on the back. Something fun I do to stay calm: Rub your ears with your fingertips, and say “Woo-Saaah.” It works, you’ll see! Once you’re on stage, relax your shoulders and release tension in your neck. And remember, you’re dancing, so SMILE and have FUN.

3.) PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS.

So you’re in a large group. What does your group do to stand out from the rest?

– ONE: Pay attention to spacing details like lines, levels and formations. A straight line is a straight line. You need to be responsible for your part in that spacing, so use your peripheral vision while you dance.

– TWO: Perfect your arms, hands, feet and body positions in a group. It’s amazing how great a group can look when everyone’s arms are EXACTLY the same. Even if choreography is simple, making sure your body movements are as exact as your dance partner is a sure way to higher marks.

– THREE: Work on shared Sight Lines. What does that mean? This is more advanced, but it’s simple… When dancing in a group, find common focal points to make great moments. For example: in your lyrical group, everyone is performing to an imaginary person downstage right. So through your dance, at the same moment, everyone looks right at them. Think of your dances as movies, and you’re always looking and having a conversation with a real person.

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