Are You Being Judged?!

Have you ever gone into a dance competition and felt you executed every move perfectly? You felt as if you had transcended into the land of perfection, with each move being swift and precise and flowing perfectly with the music! You wait with bated breath for the scores to be announced… and the winner is… NOT YOU?! You wait with anticipation for the judges’ notes at your next practice and see that you DID have a perfect score for your technique. WHAT WAS MISSING?! DO THE JUDGES EVEN KNOW ANYTHING?!!??!?!?!

No matter what kind of dance you do, whether it be ballroom or tap this has probably happened to you at least once. I have seen many of my dance students tear up because they achieved “perfection” and should have won. Do you know what they were missing? Passion, pizzazz, and personality.

When a judge watches 50+ dancers it is important to stand out. Your technique could have been a gift from the gods, but if you don’t have any personality, they will not remember you. I have told many, many dance students that. If you don’t own the song and dance, and make it 100% yours, you will not win. It should be difficult for them to take their eyes off of you while you are dancing and hard to forget you once you walk off the stage. Depending on the dance, you should leave people thinking, “That looked SO fun!” You’re dance should leave them feeling something. My favorite dance I ever watched some of my students do left me with goosebumps. Their technique wasn’t perfect, but they put their whole heart and soul into this group dance. You were left holding your breath. When competition time came around, their dance was not the cleanest in terms of technique, but they still won because the audience and judges were so completely drawn into their dance it made them memorable in the best way possible.

Now, before you start commenting on musicality and technique: Yes. Those things are very important. If your timing is drastically off, or you are flailing around with no idea of choreography or technique, you will not win either (no matter how much fun flailing is). I am just saying that judges are not looking solely at that. Here’s why: There are some competitions where everyone’s level is incredibly high. Each person’s technique is amazing, the timing is spot on. How do you judge beyond that? Personality. For example YGAP is a youth ballet competition broken up into age groups. While watching those young dancers, many of them have such a high level of technique that you start watching to see the flow of movement. Do they embody the character/dance/music? Did you have fun watching? Was your breath taken away? Were you left emotional? Was it more than just movement - was it DANCE?!

So when you go to compete, you need to trust that you DO know the moves and just have fun with the dance. Don’t just put your body into the routine, put your soul into it. Doing that will make all the difference: for both you and for the judges!