How To Put On A Showstoppin' Performance With Advice From Showstopper's Judges

Showstopper sees all types of different dancers from across the world at their dance competitions. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to stand out among the 100s of dancers that perform on their stages.


With some of the most experienced and knowledgable judges in the industry, Showstopper asked its judges for their best advice on how to put on a showstoppin' performance. Here's what they said…

on being MEMORABLE…

"The originality of the routine. How many times have I heard the song you're dancing to that day? Is your choreography unique? Originality compared with strong technique and showmanship are what always impress me!" - Melanie Buckley

"I think the most memorable dances are the ones that take a piece of me, the ones that move me to a different place and tell me a story that I can see unfold onstage. Each piece of choreography is a reflection of the teacher that taught the dance so it's also a peek into their innermost thoughts." - Dena Rizzo

"The most memorable routines, for me, are the performances that evoke an emotional response within me as an audience member. I love to be moved by a story. Dance is art and dancers are artists. Whether it's a story of love, loss, courage or fear, performers have the amazing ability to communicate every emotion." - Kristin Marie Johnson

"I will always remember the routines that are not like everything else. Creativity. Routines that push the envelope so to speak." - Debbie DiBiase-Wood

"A memorable routine is one that leaves me wanting to see it again and again and again. It could be outstanding lifts, unforgettable turns, out of this world flexibility, the energy and excitement of movement, or the surprise of 'how did they do that?'. There are performances I still remember from 15-20 years ago that are etched imprints into my psychic." - Kelly King

"A unique element is always good, but I really love pieces that take me on a ride. They bring me to another world. That could be an emotional journey, a spectacular display, or a more abstract picturesque piece." - Michelle Hammar

"I love to see how the dancer connects with the audience and judges. Make eye contact, be super confident, and OWN that stage! This is their moment to shine, and if the dancer is truly confident, their passion will shine through the emotion and choreography." - Kara Lozanovski

on CHOREOGRAPHY…

"I advise teachers to 'think outside the box' when it comes to finding a concept. Try to create powerful images and strong emotions. Think about unique formations and props, and try to be precise with lines, shapes and sounds." - Eileen Grace

"Rely on your dancers' technique but focus on cleaning up your choreography! I am always a happy judge when I see a clean double turn, rather than a not so clean triple turn in choreography." - Julie Pentz

"I absolutely love to see style that suits the performer or performers. I would much rather see a dancer's sense of style versus the same turns, jumps, and tumbling that the we have seen time and time again. I am, of course, in awe of the amazing tricks that dancers are capable of, however, it is thrilling to see a fresh style and emotionally connected performance." - Kristin Marie Johnson

"Advice to teachers when it comes to choreography, always remember students strengths and weaknesses. Clean combinations, smooth transitions, creative movements, staging, exits and entrances, all create a formula that should be pleasing to the eye and make a statement." - Kelly King

"Find music that has an arc and then choreograph to the nuances of that music. Less is more! Meaning, do something longer to let the audience fully drink it in. More subtle moves help draw the audience into your little world on the stage. Also, don't be afraid to HOLD a pose. It will keep your viewers guessing ;)" - Michelle Hammar

"Start with a strong point of view. What do you want the piece to 'say'? What you do you want the audience to take away from the piece?" - Jennifer Hemphill

#1 THING JUDGES LOOK FOR…

"It's a tie between originality and technique!" - Melanie Buckley

"Of course, I always look for strong technique. Also important is the commitment to the routine as well as the clean timing and precision." - Debbie DiBiase-Wood

"To say what the number one thing to look for is difficult. Of course, technique and training would be the most obvious answer. However, I love passion and story telling. A routine that captures emotion. Nothing compares to being swept away by a dancer who lives in the moment of his or her performance. I've seen many dancers with exquisite technique, but no heart. Amazing technique plus amazing feeling equals Crystal." - Kelly King

"It is hard to name just one thing I look for! Feeling the excitement, enthusiasm and energy from the dancers is very important. Are they fully invested? If I have to sum that up in one word, it would be energy." - Michelle Hammar

"The number one thing I look for while judging is EMOTION. I love to see how the dancer connects to the choreography emotionally by breathing through the movement and living in the moment, like poetry in motion! Finish every movement to the fullest capacity and let your technique shine through. This is YOUR moment. I also love to see their personalities explode through the story line of the choreography. :) This truly connects the dancer to the choreography in an artistic way, too. Push your limits and be the beautiful dancer that you are!!!" - Kara Lozanovski

"Connection. That the dancer is consistently connecting her or his technique with her or his artistic sense." - Caitlin Abraham

GET READY TO TAKE THE STAGE | Showstopper's 2019 Regionals Competition Season www.youtube.com

Join the Showstopper stages this 2019 season. At competitions, you will receive full reports and live video with voice feedback from the judges on each of your performances. For 2019 tour dates and to register head to www.goshowstopper.com.

Related Articles Around the Web
Related Articles From Your Site
    The Conversation
    Dance Teachers Trending
    Photo courtesy of Hightower

    The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

    Keep reading... Show less
    Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
    Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

    Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

    No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

    Keep reading... Show less
    Dance Teachers Trending
    Lani Corson. Photo by Royce Burgess, courtesy of Corson

    Aerial work is growing in popularity in the dance world these days. Don't believe us? Check out this Dance Magazine article! If you're a studio owner who didn't grow up with aerial training (let's face it, how many of us really did?), then you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what to look for when bringing on a new aerialist faculty member. You know exactly what you want from your ballet teachers, your jazz teachers, your tap teachers, heck—even your tumbling teachers! Aerial, however, is a whole other ballgame.

    To help you feel confident you're bringing in a teacher who is safe for your dancers, we sat down with Lani Corson, NYC aerialist, circus performer, adjunct professor at Pace University and teacher at Aerial Arts NYC, to get the inside scoop on exactly what you should be looking for.

    Enjoy!

    Keep reading... Show less
    Sponsored by Insure Fitness
    AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

    As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

    You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

    Keep reading... Show less
    Studio Owners
    Getty Images

    Dance teachers have a lot of strengths (communicating corrections, choreographing gorgeous movement, planning excellent recitals, cleaning technique—just to name a few) but when it comes to interior design—talent isn't exactly a given. So when studio owners remodel or build, worrying about the decor can feel a little overwhelming (you've got just a few too many other things to worry about, don't you?).

    No need to fear! In 2019 we have Pinterest, which shows us all the latest trends we should know about. To help you make the best design decisions for your studio, we've compiled a list of public Pinterest pins we think you'll love.

    You're welcome!

    Keep reading... Show less
    Studio Success with Just for Kix
    Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

    Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

    Keep reading... Show less
    Site Network
    Unsplash

    Is dance a sport? Should it be in the Olympics? They're complicated questions that tend to spark heated debate. But many dance fans will be excited to hear that breaking (please don't call it breakdancing) has been provisionally added to the program for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

    Keep reading... Show less
    Sponsored by World Class Vacations
    David Galindo Photography

    New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

    Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

    Keep reading... Show less
    Dance Teacher Tips
    Vanessa Zahorian. Photo by Erik Larson, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet Academy

    At the LINES Ballet Dance Center in San Francisco, faculty member Erik Wagner leads his class through an adagio combination in center. He encourages dancers to root their standing legs, using imagery of a seed germinating, so that they feel more grounded. "Our studios are on the fifth floor, so I'll often tell them to push down to Market Street," says Wagner. "They know that they should push their energy down to the street level." By using this oppositional force, he says, dancers can lengthen their bodies to create any desired shape.

    Keep reading... Show less
    Dance Teacher Tips
    Getty Images

    After years of throwing summer parties at your studio, you're likely fatigued by coming up with themes and event details. You want your students to have a good time, but you're also up to your eyeballs in choreography and costume decisions.

    Never fear! We've come up with party themes and activities to do during the event. Delegate tasks to your teachers and office managers, and voilà! You have a stress-free party ready to go.

    Have a blast, people!

    Keep reading... Show less
    Dancer Health
    Thinkstock

    Q: I recently returned to a modern dance class after a long absence. While I didn't feel any acute pain at the end of class, the next morning I could barely walk from the soreness in both my Achilles. What can I do to fix this?

    Keep reading... Show less
    Studio Owners
    Getty Images

    Q: I'm trying to think of ways to maximize studio space and revenue during the summer. What has worked for you?

    Keep reading... Show less

    mailbox

    Get DanceTeacher in your inbox