Studio Owners

12 Performance Tips From Competition Judges Who Have Seen It All

Thinkstock

Help your dancers improve their performance—and scores—with this advice from veteran competition faculty: Martha Nichols, Judy Rice and Suzi Taylor.


Connect with your ensemble.

Everyone can be dancing at the same time, but not necessarily together, because they don't acknowledge each other. "Relax and have a good time," says Martha Nichols of New York City Dance Alliance. "Be grateful to be up there dancing with the people who you like. Be truly present onstage."

Mind the musicality.

Dancers need to listen to the music, and teachers need to work with their students to actually listen.

Here's an example of Keone and Mari Madrid finding magic in their musicality.👇

Pay attention to transitions.

Be creative with transitions so they're transparent (we don't see them). In other words, don't use skipping to go from one combination to another. Transitions separate the amateur from the professional.

If you're looking for inspiration, we're big fans of Chad McCall's seamless transitions set on these Orange County Performing Arts Academy Dancers. Give 'em a look!👇

Choreograph well within the technical ability of your dancers.

Don't be seduced by tricks, and keep choreography appropriate to the technical level of the students. "Resist the urge to stick poorly performed fouettés in each number," says Judy Rice of Artists Simply Human. "It's a holdover from the days of mandatory tricks."

This Sabrina Phillip combo? Yeah, it definitely fits the technical ability of the dancers. Plus there isn't a single fouetté in it! Excuse us please—we're drooling.👇

Be consistent when it comes to style.

Don't stick a classical pirouette in a hip-hop piece.

Kyle Hanagami knows how to make each piece of movement feel entirely appropriate to the genre he's choreographing. This one is a must-watch!👇

Wings are for exits and entrances.

Dancers should not be visible in the wings, and they should be clear on which wing to come and go from. Go over this with your dancers before you get onstage.

Brightyn Brems, Dance Awards 2017 Mini Female Best Dancer winner, demonstrates how to stay out of sight while in the wings.👇

Start strong.

First impressions count. Even the way you come out onto the stage and stand is important.

Travis Wall's "Strange Fruit" on this season of SYTYCD has one of the strongest starts we've ever seen. Honestly, we've got chills. Give it a watch.👇



Avoid unflattering angles.

Turn or angle movements to avoid crotch shots.

Here's Tate McRae showing off her lines with the perfect angle.👇

Costumes should match the tone of the piece.

An earthy number set to a cool indie song should not be costumed in hot-pink dresses with sequins and diamonds. It's confusing. And factor to consider, seeing tiny tots covered in bling while gyrating to a suggestive song is a hot-button issue for judges, so make sure the costumes are age-appropriate.

Here's a 2015 throwback for you. Justin Bieber's costume team deserves a bonus for staying on point with this video.👇

Just say no to stirrup tights with shoes.

Stirrup tights are fine with bare feet, but they cut the line with shoes.

Check out Dyllan Blackburn in her winning mini jazz solo at Radix Nationals 2017. She steered clear of the stirrup tights/shoe combo. #winner👇

Tags have to go.

Cut the tags out of your costumes and use a Sharpie to mark out visible brand labels on shirts.

Like this👇

Thinkstock

Wear the pair.

The trend of wearing only one shoe so you can turn needs to stop. No professional company does this and neither should anyone in a competition team.

Here is a video of Shaping Sound performing on The Ellen DeGeneres show with cohesive footwear. It's all or nothing, and we think they nailed it.👇



The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Julianna D. Photography, courtesy of Abreu

Although Rudy Abreu is currently JLo's backup dancer and an award-winning choreographer—his piece "Pray" tied for second runner-up at the 2018 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and a variation of the piece made it to the finals on NBC's "World of Dance"—he still finds time to teach. Especially about how he hears music.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dance Teacher Web
Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

Dance students aren't the only ones who get to spend their summers learning new skills and refining their dance practice. Studio owners and administrators can also use the summer months to scope out new curriculum ideas, learn the latest business strategies and even earn a certification or two.

At Dance Teacher Web's Conference and Expo, attendees will spend July 29–August 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada learning everything from new teaching methods to studio management software. And as if the dance and business seminars weren't enough, participants can also choose from three certifications to earn during the conference to help expand their expertise, generate new revenue and set their studios apart:

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

James Payne, director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, starts class each day by asking students how they feel. "If they're collectively hurting, and I know that the day before they were working hard on something new, I might lessen the intensity of the class," he says. "I won't slow it down, though. Sometimes it's better to move through the aches and get to the other side."

A productive class depends, in part, on how well it is paced. If you move too slow, you risk losing students' interest and creating unwanted heaviness. Move too fast and dancers might not fully benefit from combinations or get sufficiently warm, increasing their risk of injury. But even these guidelines may differ depending on the students' age and level. Good pacing is a delicate balance that can facilitate mental and physical growth, but it requires good planning, close observation and the ability to adapt mid-class.

Keep reading... Show less
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
Getty Images

Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Running your own studio often comes with a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. After all, you're the one who teaches class, creates choreography, collects tuition, plans a recital, calls parents, answers e-mails, orders costumes—plus a host of other tasks, some of which you probably don't even think about. But what if you had someone to help you, someone who could take certain routine or clerical tasks off your hands, freeing you up to focus on what you love?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Derek and Julianne Hough via @juleshough on Instagram

Here at Dance Teacher, we LOVE a talented dance family. Something about parents and siblings passing their passion for dance down to those who come after them just warms our hearts.

While there are many sets of talented siblings across all genres of dance, ballroom seems to be particularly booming with them.

Don't believe us? Check out these four sets of ballrooms siblings we can't take our eyes off of. Their parents have raised them right!

This is far from a comprehensive list, so feel free to share your favorite sets of dance siblings over in our comments!

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy of Roxey Ballet

This weekend, Roxey Ballet presented a sensory-friendly production of Cinderella at the Kendell Main Stage Theater in Ewing, New Jersey, with sound adjustments, a relaxed house environment and volunteers present to assist audience members with special needs. The production came on the heels of three educational residencies held at New Jersey–based elementary schools in honor of Autism Awareness Month in April.

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Shared via Dance Teacher Network Facebook

I'm a part of a popular group on Facebook called Dance Teacher Network which consists of dance teachers across the country discussing and sharing information on all things dance. Yesterday morning, I spotted a photo shared in the group of four smiling young boys in a dance studio. And I couldn't help but smile to myself and think, "Wow, I never had that...that's pretty damn amazing."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Marr

When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Thinkstock

Q: I own a studio in a city that has a competitive dance market. I've seen other studios in my community put ads on Instagram and Facebook for open-call auditions in April, long before most studios have finished their competition season and year-end recitals. Is this fair?

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox