USA Dance (Portland) Chapter #1006

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A Spectator's Guide to Amateur Dance Competition HI

A Spectator's Guide to Amateur Dance Competition HI

What is in a Dance Competition?

A dance competition allows dancers to show and compare their skills with other dancers at a similar level. A competition consists of many events, each of which is targeted at a particular skill level. Each competitor is required to perform one or more dances from a given division. As competitors move up a skill level, they are required to perform additional dances in the respective category. Not all skill levels or divisions are offered at all competitions.

Dance Skill Levels

Who can compete in a Dance Competition?
Any dancer registered with the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association as a competitor may enter in a dance competition. In most events, dancers compete as couples. However, some events such as formation team competitions are performed by teams of dancers. Others, such as the "Jack & Jill" competitions are NOT limited to competitive dancers. In a Jack & Jill event, participants enter individually and their partners are chosen by a blind draw to compete in a single-dance event.

What are the events in a Competition?

Dance Divisions
American Style


Viennese Waltz


Cha Cha
East Coast Swing

International Style


Viennese Waltz


Cha Cha
Paso Doble

Night Club

West Coast Swing
Night Club Two Step

Theater ArtsCabaret

How are the events judged?
During the event, up to seven judges will rank the dance couples based on their skills, presentation, and showmanship. Scores from all the judges are combined to obtain the final standings. Adjudication is a subjective process (to say the least) and that is why several judges are used to ensure fairness. Depending on the number of entries, competitors may be required to compete in a series of elimination rounds (nth round, quarter and semi-final) until six couples are recalled for the final round by the judges. During the final round, the top placements are determined.

What about Social Dancers?
Most Competitions will have a good amount of general dancing. These intermissions allow social dancers to stretch their legs and share the floor with the competitors. Don't be afraid to join in, competitive dancers are also social dancers!

How to support your favorite Dancers?
During the competition, you will be seeing some lovely and inspiring dancing. Beautiful movement to music is one of life's great joys! Applause is much appreciated anytime during the event. So don't be afraid to clap, yell and call out the number of your favorite couple. We invite you to play "judge" during the competition and see if you agree with the judges results. So sit back and experience this wonderful visual and aural delight.

We hope this information provides you with some insights to dance competitions. If you have any questions (we hope you do), or would like information on how to get started with dancing or where to dance, please feel free to ask any of the USA Dance officers. Have a wonderful time and we hope to see you again.